Jinny Kim designs more or less every pair of shoes that Korean actresses wear on the red carpet. The 34-year-old captured the hearts as well as the feet of Korean and Hollywood stars, and her shoes are now sold in high-end outlets in Japan and the U.S. like department store Nordstrom, Diabolina in Los Angeles and Madison in New York.
Kim draws her inspiration from the stars of Hollywood's golden era. "I make shoes thinking of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. They give me so much inspiration. Hollywood fashion in the 1950s was gorgeous, and there were so many accessories like hats, gloves, shoes, and jewelry. In that sense, I think perhaps today’s fashion is too plain," she says.
California is also a source of inspiration for her. "This place is full of happy energy. There are so many parties, so I constantly think about what shoes to wear."
Kim majored in fashion design at Sungkyunkwan University and in merchandising management at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
She went on to launch her own shoe brand Jinny Kim in 2006. In her autobiography she talks about her trajectory from a high-school girl who dreamed of becoming a fashion designer after seeing a John Galliano show, to working as a fashion editor, PR staffer for a fashion brand, merchandising assistant, textile company employee, intern at Zegna in New York, shoe designer in a factory in Seongsu-dong in Seoul, until she finally launched her own brand.
Kim started to take interest in shoe design coincidentally when she saw a pair of shoes that a friend had made during her time in New York. She started to dream about making shoes that would be recognized globally, and thought it would be a good idea to have her factory in Korea.
"I did look for shoe workshops in Italy, but I thought the craftsmen in the factories in Seongsu-dong are no worse. We import leather from Italy, but I trust the craftsmanship of our people, so I stick to making my products here."
When she first launched her brand, she did everything from design to production and publicity, so she often worked until 1 a.m. "In the beginning, all I could think about was that how to survive," she recalls.
Kim has worked tirelessly to take on new challenges, and now wants to expand into homeware design. Her challenges will continue as she works on expanding her business in the U.S. and making inroads into the Chinese market.