On 5 September, CHARLES & KEITH celebrated the official opening of its inaugural flagship store in Gangnam, Seoul, with a star-studded event that saw Korean celebrities—including brand ambassador Han So Hee, fashion maven Irene Kim and idol Nancy from Momoland—in attendance. The expansive duplex building is the largest CHARLES & KEITH store in the country yet, and boasts an industrial interior that seeps of luxury.
Aligning with the launch of the Gangnam flagship store, the brand debuted an exclusive collaboration capsule with South Korean visual artist and painter Henn Kim. Known for her monochTitled “Heart Is Every Wear”, the all-black 4-piece capsule is inspired by Henn Kim’s desire for versatile fashion accessories that can be worn and used anywhere, inviting individuals to embrace authenticity and genuine emotions by confidently (and literally) wearing hearts on their sleeves. The collection sees a pair of faux leather ankle boots, ruched hobo bag, scrunchie and even a weighty blanket. Each piece features seamlessly melds CHARLES & KEITH’s youthful spirit with quality and craftsmanship, available at a fair price to all. With every purchase from the capsule, customers will also receive a set of stickers featuring Henn Kim’s hand-drawn illustrations for the brand.
Below, the elusive artist speaks to Vogue Singapore on the capsule collection, her experience working with CHARLES & KEITH and what’s next for her.
Hey Henn, congratulations again on the capsule collection. What was your initial reaction when CHARLES & KEITH reached out to you for this collaboration?
I was very happy and grateful, I have always been a big fan of the brand and it was very meaningful for me to incorporate my work into their products.
You are best known for your surrealist black & white drawings. Why is this your preferred art medium?
Since I was a child, I have always been obsessed with the colour black. I feel that the colour is very emotive and explosive, and forces you to focus on the small details. Oftentimes, black has negative connotations tied to it, and I want to use my witty sketches and art to show that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. I also feel at ease when I use black paint to express my thoughts.
“The colour black is very emotive and explosive, and forces you to focus on the small details.”
What was the inspiration behind this capsule collection?
Everything in life—from interpersonal relationships to one’s work—has heart behind it, so I wanted to revolve the collection around that. As an artist, I put a lot of emotion into my artworks, and I hope that shows in the final products.
Could you take us through the creative process from ideation to conception?
It starts off the same way as all my other projects, with me ideating through written memos and sketches of ideas that pop up in my mind. All these ideas come from all over the place, and I consolidate everything before summing up the concept with little poems that explain the work. Every project provides an opportunity for introspection, to further explore myself and get to understand who I am.
What was the experience like working with the CHARLES & KEITH team on this collection?
It was extremely pleasant. The team was very open-minded right from the beginning, understanding my ideas and style of work. They kept the integrity of my art throughout the collaboration, even further enhancing my designs by suggesting bigger ideas that build off my original concepts. I remember seeing the finished designs for the first time, it truly memorable.
Who do you think is the target demographic for this collection?
I would say late teens and 20-30 year-olds, specifically stylish young adults. However, all four products are really ageless, and I feel they can certainly be incorporated into a more mature wardrobe as well.
Of the four products you designed for this capsule collection, which is your favourite and why?
I love all the products, but if I had to pick one it would probably be the shoes. The overall shape and silhouette is really versatile, allowing wearers to style it however they like. It is also really comfortable, and the added detailing on the buckles and heel offers that tiny bit of pizzazz.
“Everything in life has heart behind it, and I wanted to showcase that.”
How would you personally style these items?
I like to wear the scrunchie as a bracelet as the material is really supple and luxurious. I wear the boots with maxi skirts, as I think they pair really well together and creates a feminine and elegant silhouette. The bag is the perfect size for everyday use, from running around completing errands to a night out with friends.
Lastly, what’s next for you? What can we expect to see in the near future?
Next month, I will be publishing my second book which go into deeper detail about myself—showcasing the authentic and raw side of me. Oh, and I would love to collaborate with CHARLES & KEITH again! (laughs) I thoroughly enjoyed the experience so much.
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CHARLES & KEITH x Henn Kim Illustrated Heart Charm ankle boots, $159
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CHARLES & KEITH x Henn Kim Illustrated Heart Charm ruched hobo bag, $109
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CHARLES & KEITH x Henn Kim Illustrated Heart scrunchie, $24.90
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CHARLES & KEITH x Henn Kim Illustrated Heart Cosmo blanket, $99.90
The CHARLES & KEITH x Henn Kim collection is available from 5 September 2023 in selected CHARLES & KEITH boutiques and on the brand’s official website here.