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How I Found My Fashion Spirit Animal in Menswear Line Den Im
“Den Im is an extension of Siki Im,” says designer Siki Im of his eponymous line and the one he’s just launched. “It is not a diffusion line because there is no crossover or watered-down versions of garments. Den Im is not jeans. It is casualwear. It is the younger brother. It is also staples for men. Siki Im is looking forward whereas Den Im is about the now.”
Im’s words struck a nerve. It was almost like he was describing my sister and me—or perhaps our respective sister animals. Call me self-absorbed, fine (my sister will probably agree with you), but I can’t help thinking we’re a lot like Siki Im the label and the newer Den Im. Niki is my big sister, an old soul with big dreams, and despite the fact that I’m the one who works in fashion, she jumps at any opportunity to make a sartorial statement. I, on the other hand, obsess over the latest trends (my yen for streetwear and hip-hop is at an all-time high) and have a serious strategy for how to get away with wearing my beloved tracksuits and sneakers to the office every day, at times taking a risk but within a set paradigm. Like Siki Im and Den Im, I like to think Niki and I complement each other quite nicely without sacrificing our individuality.
After speaking with Im, I got to thinking about his cerebral approach to design. “Every season the collection drives from different anthropological notions and has different nuances but the person is the same,” he told me. “It is never linear or homogenous but there is always a juxtaposition and a beautiful tension. Designing usually starts a season before based on something I have been reading in a book or an article, or it is a powerful memory. Design is psychology mixed with aesthetics. The important thing for me is to be critical and question the subject. Paying attention to constructions and care. Challenging the norm and people to develop new languages and forms.”
Now I wonder what his spirit animal might be (and wish I had asked!), but he did say that his vision of the Siki Im man was someone “modern, cultured, and well traveled. He cares and he wants something different and smarter than the norm.” When describing his personal aesthetic and what he looks for in his own clothing, Im said, “I look for authenticity. That you are honest and effortless. Not contrived or insecure. I wear lots of black because I don’t need to color-coordinate and it is quiet but strong.”
Siki Im’s “younger brother” line Den Im was “driven by memories of my youth skateboarding in Cologne,” he said. “Skating introduced me to style and being and seeing differently. I started with this notion and tried to make it more modern [by taking] seemingly basic items but we always put a twist in it: some detail, or complex pattern-cutting.” His peripatetic lifestyle—dabbling in painting, photography, music, and then architecture studies at Oxford—led to a move to New York, where he fell into fashion, noticing a void in high-end menswear that felt both authentic and accessible, without sacrificing quality, and Siki Im—aka my spirit animal—was born soon after.
Between the hot pink side-zip sweater, the black chinos (until these came along I never thought I could love a pair of pants as much as I love my Dickies!), and the black brogues with the tape detailing, naming a favorite would be a futile if not impossible task. I am already waiting with eager anticipation for Siki Im’s next act.
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