Last Updated on February 8, 2021
InspirationFeed recently interviewed Joy Kim, a professional milliner (hat maker) and the founder of Joy Kim New York, a millinery brand specializing in personalized hats created from locally-sourced materials.
Kim has a compelling design perspective, and it makes up a big part of what inspires her to create beautiful and elegant headwear. She is also a member of the Milliners Guild.
In our interview, we sought to understand more about her design philosophy and find out what drives her to create beautiful hats, including specialized hats for the conditions of the pandemic.
If you’re interested in learning even more about Kim and her millinery work, we encourage you to visit the links included in this introduction. We hope you enjoy the interview.
InspirationFeed (IF): Are there any specific designs that you’re especially proud of? What sets this design apart?
Joy Kim (JK): As I love to experiment and seeing my vision come true, there are some designs I’d call out. I had a campaign hat with handmade lettering ‘JOY’, and ‘no smoking’ and ‘no war’ buttons on each side of a one-piece felt cap. In its simplicity, it communicates a strong message.
The Panama straw trapper hat is another distinguished design. It’s normally created for winter but I thought why not make it a summer hat? I frayed all the edges and lined it with a leather cord to add unexpected details and handwork.
My current collection is my most exciting yet! it is playfully versatile. I strongly believe in design being multifunctional. I created a scalloped brim hat with stringed cuffs connected to the hat so that you can either tie it under your neck or wear the cuffs on your wrists, adding another accessorized element.
With current global needs, I created a trapper hat with an attachable integrated mask with matching design elements and materials. It also allows attaching any masks onto the hat. I’m most excited about this collection because it is innovative.
IF: In what ways have you applied contemporary design philosophies to your products?
JK: I’m interested in simplicity, composition, and versatility in design. My current collection is about bringing many needs together.
My design philosophy itself is a combination of innovative contemporary ideas and a classic, timeless approach that emphasizes timeless designs.
IF: Since you started your company, what have been some of the biggest changes that have taken place?
JK: Since founding Joy Kim New York, I’ve been able to see my vision of designs all the way through the process. It’s exciting to get to see my ideas come to life.
IF: To what degree does your work follow broader fashion trends?
JK: I tend to avoid current trends in favor of creating timeless designs that my clients will be happy with.
IF: What are some of your biggest external influences when you’re designing a new piece of headwear?
JK: My clients inspire me. Because most of my work is custom made, the challenge is working with personalities and it’s very exciting to solve individual needs. I also live in New York City, where I find inspiration everywhere.
I naturally blend inspirations. A lot of times, I create random combinations. I tend to get influenced by many things. People, objects, nature, colors, architecture, etc. Then I get to create from different perspectives.
IF: If you could go back in time, is there any part of your career that you would do differently?
JK: I would be less hard on myself with the knowledge I have now and realize every step and trial has led me to the good place I’m in now, with my current understanding of design.