One Woman Power House | Meet MISSBISH Kim Bui Kollar

Author: Heejung Kim / Photos: Kara Chung
12.19 / MB Series

There’s a lot to learn from fashion director-influencer Kim Bui Kollar, starting with the fact that she is constantly craving to learn by collaborating with inspirational people and conversing in new ideas while owning her multifaceted global career. As the fashion director of #Legend Magazine, founder of Banck Creative and freelance fashion consultant, Kim is the epitome of the powerhouse career woman we all want to be, all while being a loving, dedicated mother of three! MISSBISH is proud to feature Kim and learn insights into her career, how she sees fashion trends in Hong Kong, China, New York (and the rest of the world!), and her inspirations.

How did you begin your career in fashion? 
While I was at USC, I interned at a fashion brand where I met some great stylists that I would assist. This lead me to a great path of learning from really talented professionals and hands on experience that would inform what I would do next. I then worked for a costume designer who encouraged me to go to art school which lead to an internship at Development. This was the beginning of my relationship with Phillip Lim, and ultimately being the Style Director at 3.1 Phillip Lim. I didn’t know a job like a stylist existed until I was an intern in a PR department during college. The moral of the story here? Intern!

How would you describe your personal style? 
Cool, easy, chic. I love a bit of glamour, now and again, but in my way. I hate looking overdone.

How do you manage to balance fashion directing #Legend Magazine, running Banck Creative, and consulting for retailers, talents, and brands all while being a mom? 
I have learned to say “no” to things. I don’t go to everything. I don’t agree to collaborate with everything that comes my way (which as a creative person is hard – because collaborating with cool people is such fuel for the soul). I bring in other people who are really good to take part. I ask for help when I need it.

Being a mom has made me realize how every single minute counts in the day. I will say that technology has made it easier and faster to stay in touch and get things done – however, I think there is also the danger of reacting too fast. I take some time every morning and every night to have some quiet time to mentally plan for the goals of all of the projects that I am involved with – to make sure that the right messages and goals are communicated – this also allows for efficiency and optimization of all our efforts. There are certain boundaries that I have to make clear to the people I work with. It’s a little uncomfortable at first, but I bring 110% to what I am contributing and then everyone gets used to factoring what is important to me. I think it’s important to take care of our minds and emotions or else there won’t be total clarity. I really make a point to make sure that there is some balance in my life and that I am not taking one thing or another for granted in order to focus too much on another part of my life (i.e. family vs work, or friends vs work).

What inspires you the most? 
People who do things with so much passion and heart. Whatever it is. This selfless dedication to a craft, or a study, or a cause blows my mind. I am so thankful there are people like this in the world.

What do you find the most rewarding in the industry that you are in, and what is the most challenging? 
I have this conversation with my peers in the fashion industry often. What is it about this industry that is so addictive? During fashion month it is long hours and grueling schedules and everyone is beyond exhausted at the end of it, but we look forward to the next season. I think it is the beauty, the creativity, and authenticity that energizes us. It is the collaboration of so many people to deliver this one moment (whether in a garment or a show) that speaks to an emotional instinct. When it all comes together well – it is like magic. There is no other way to describe it. We are all involved in this higher purpose to help ourselves and other people be the best version of themselves through these dreams – whether a designer, a retailer, or somebody in media. The rewards are these visual emotional journeys and the circumstances to meet and collaborate with all kinds of creatives to design new ideas for the future. I also think it’s interesting how global this industry has made everyone feel. I see friends that live in other countries so often and feel so much a part of their daily lives as if they lived right next door. What is challenging, I find, is that there is a lot of waste which bothers me. In the process and in the output of product that doesn’t get used. I think this needs to change for the sanity of the industry and the future of our planet. I think a global committee needs to be organized to discuss such things and put goals and action plans in place.

What is the best advice you received, and what advice can you give for women who follow in your footsteps?
Be good at something. People should know what to come to you for. Work at a craft or an idea and own it. I think this could probably apply more now than ever. I love the fact that we don’t have to fit into a box on only doing one thing – but being really good at something will help make you a better collaborator with other people. I think there is a tendency to spread ourselves too thin these days, which takes away from the awesomeness of what things can be.

What are you most looking forward in the new year? 
I am looking forward to all of the new voices that will present themselves in the talent pool. I think social media has been a great platform for creatives to express themselves and not have to wait for a big establishment to crown them. I am also looking forward to new ways the industry can have creative conversations – I think we can take some time to go deep into the soul of things and discuss meaning.

Having worked in New York, how do the fashion trends differ between Hong Kong, China, and the United States? 
I would say there are big trends that have some commonality amongst all of the big cities – this is back to the conversation of how global we all are (thanks to social media perhaps). I think there is a bit more of effortlessness and originality in New York. I think this can be attributed to what is available. In New York, there are so many vintage stores that sell even super niche specific genre of clothes. The streetwear and hip-hop culture came from the States. The grunge culture came from the States. “Coachella” fashion came from LA. I think if you are from the outside – then it’s just stylistic emulation. I will say though, I think Asians, even guys, will really go there with their fashion and style – from their clothes to their accessories, to their hair, which is really cool.

What are the latest trends in China and Hong Kong that you see, and how do you respond to the trends through your work? 
I have to say, I think that the people in China and Hong Kong take their fashion really seriously. They want more out of their clothes and accessories – stylistically and technically. When I first moved here I was blown away by the eyewear game or the dedication people have to certain designers and aesthetic tribes. I love it when people have so much fun with style and clothes. I take it all in and it gets factored into what I do when I work with American or European brands that want to resonate with the Asian market or Chinese brands that want to be relevant in the global marketplace. It’s about taking the best of both worlds and editing and translating for a win. There is usually a common base that needs
to be established and then I work with the brands to bring out what is special about what they do and help the product sing. Or when I work with an influencer from Asia, we will narrow down the stylistic message and focus on one aspect and temper the whole look with a chic-ness and a bit of glamour that will have relevance in all markets – which is important in this social media area. There may be somebody on the feed for the first time wanting to see what this person is all about. Image is everything. Relating is the second most important.

How has working in China and Hong Kong influenced your fashion and style choices? 
I want more out of my clothes too. Even my basics are elevated basics or special. I love all of the exposure I have had to Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and smaller Italian brands that would not have made the floor in the conservative department stores. I don’t wear brands head-to-toe because I like to make each look mine but I love the fact that instead of wearing a basic khaki trench I can wear one that is slightly deconstructed and has sequin lining for instance. Also, the cosmetics game in Asia is mind-blowing. It is so much fun to work with on an editorial level and self-care level.

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
It’s the ultimate group of girlfriends to support one another and celebrate in our awesomeness as we share about the different aspects of our lives. Sharing is caring.

Who is your MISSBISH?
Lindsay Jang. She is fearless and smart. She is a great mother and as though not managing her own family is enough, she also has her F&B family and all of the other families she cultivates through friendships. She is always open, sharing, and ready to help. She’s doing things and running things. Her kids have the best manners. She will out-yoga anyone in a room. She is the ultimate MISSBISH.

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