In July, Parsons teamed up menswear tradeshow PROJECT New York for the inaugural “Next in Class” program, which afforded five of the school’s top graduates a chance to meet the buyers who help make the fashion industry tick. Here, the emerging talent and “Next in Class” participant Ace Kim shares his experiences, hopes, and plans for the future. Stay tuned in the coming days to read the stories of his peers.
Neither Bill Gates nor the Ebola virus are things one normally associates with fashion, but for Korean designer Ace Kim, a recent Parsons graduate specializing in menswear, it was the basis for a whole collection. “I chose Ebola as my starting point because it’s a very contemporary issue,” he said, at first thinking of a way to bring his family occupation (Kim comes from a long line of pharmacists) into his work. As he researched, things became more political. “I figured out that the Ebola vaccine [which does not exist yet] was actually under development a decade ago, and that ended because it was not marketable enough for Western pharmaceutical firms,” he explained. “I just thought that was very selfish, because pharmaceutical firms are advertising themselves as ‘We will save your lives!’ but actually, all they really want is money.” When the virus spread globally in 2014, Bill Gates became a vocal advocate for a vaccine. But Kim noted that, despite Gates’ good intentions, he would still potentially be profiting from the matter. From there, a quirky concept was born.