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FIDM Grad Jiyeon Lee is Designing for Shein

Grad is Designing for Shein

Born and raised in South Korea, Jiyeon Lee moved to the U.S. to study fashion design. As a student at FIDM, she won multiple Cotton Inc design competitions and was selected as finalist in the ISKO i-Skool Denim Talent Awards where she was invited to the final exhibition event in Milan, Italy and her work was shown on the runway. She earned her Fashion Design Degree from FIDM in 2014 and her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management in 2015, and has worked for renowned companies in the industry including Cult Gaia, Flynn Skye, Genetic Los Angeles (IRO jeans), and A.L.C., among many others. We caught up with this talented grad, who is now designing for Shein, to learn more about her journey.

Tell us a little about yourself: Originally from South Korea, I came to the USA to study fashion design. While studying Fashion Design at FIDM, I started interning at renowned contemporary and designer companies because I wanted to learn as much as I could and gain real experience in the fashion industry. After that, I had a passion to pursue my fashion business, so I started studying Business Management at FIDM. Right after I graduated, I started working at renowned companies in the fashion industry. And now I’m working for multiple clients after I received an O-1 visa as well as for my personal design work.

Tell us about your current project: My current client is Shein, which is a global brand that offers trendy items at affordable prices. They offered me the ‘Shein Original Design Project’ to lead my own collection by different seasons. They are trying this project for the first time, which emphasizes the originality of the design. My recent collection called 'New Year, New You' has launched under Shein X Project. And ongoing my own collections are going to be launched under Shein Original Design Project as usual. With my previous experiences from designer companies, I’m combining a delicate and sophisticated design aesthetic but keeping it at their price point for their customers, so they can appeal to their global customers. Since I have started working for Shein, my philosophy has not changed. I still desire to create unique products that their customers cannot find at any other fast fashion brands and can feel a different level. Every time I work on my projects, I pour 100% of my heart, effort, and soul into them.

model wearing blue dress by Shein

Dress from the ’New Year, New You’ collection that launched this month under Shein X Project.

model wearing white and purple dress by Shein

Dress from the ’New Year, New You’ collection that launched this month under Shein X Project.

model wearing black dress by Shein

Dress from the ‘Quarantine Holiday’ collection launched in December 2020 under Shein Original Design Project.

What did you do before you work on your current project? Before I started working for Shein, thankfully, I was trained by respectful directors, designers, and CEOs in fashion industry and worked for renowned companies in the industry including Stylestalker (Jetset Diaries), Haney, A.L.C, Genetic Los Angeles (I.R.O jeans), Flynn Skye, Cult Gaia, Nicholas the label, Ultracor, Resa and more. I’m really grateful for the opportunities I had before and I will never forget the valuable opportunities they gave me. Every experience was unique and I learned something different from all of them.

What do you enjoy most about being a designer? I enjoy creating new ideas and making that happen, seeing them in real life as a designer. When people are satisfied with my work, I feel rewarded, because I feel I helped people. Fashion isn’t just about superficial things, it is a medium that eventually makes people feel happy. People can express themselves without any limitation through fashion and it connects to even people’s happy and optimistic mentality. Thus, I’m proud of myself that I can contribute my ability to make people feel better, and furthermore it could make the world better as well.

What inspires you? Everything inspires me. Of course, visual things inspire me, such as when I see something new while traveling. I also love it when I find something unique from different cultures (i.e., culture trends, contemporary art, music, social issues). They all have an impact on me, but I’m also inspired by inner thoughts. Keeping thoughts of philosophy about fashion makes me think more about what philosophy I should apply to my work. My current client is Shein, but I’m also conscious about how the environment is related to fashion and any other philosophy that does not link or directly relate to the fashion industry, such as from books, poets, and my personal life experiences and conversations--all inspire me. Because to me, everything connects, and all my values combined make me keep thinking and strive to be a better version of myself as a designer and as a person.

What is one of your proudest accomplishments? I could list my accomplishments like the awards I received from respected organizations in the fashion industry such as from ISKO, Cotton Inc, and Guess; or I could list the work I’ve done at renowned companies and with respected and esteemed directors, designers, and CEOs. But, my proudest accomplishment is not listing my awards or work, but rather my persistence to pursue my goals continuously. There are times I know I could just give up and take the easy route, but I know it’s going to be worth it if I keep pursuing my goals, so I’d rather enjoy the challenges. It’s hard when something isn’t going as originally planned, but there is always another way if you really want something. Still I have kept that faith to pursue my goals continuously, and I can say that is my proudest accomplishment.

Tell us about the Guess collaboration you participated in while a student at FIDM: Guess selected me as one of five finalists for their design competition. It was a really unique experience because that was the first time I went to a big fashion company and met professionals while I was a student. Guess invited the finalists to their headquarters and we presented our designs to their design team. We were mentored by them and used the fabric Guess provided. We did everything ourselves, from creating the pattern, doing the draft, the sewing and dying the denim fabric. We then presented our work to a design judge panel and other Guess designers at the Guess headquarters.

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? I feel grateful that FIDM prepared me by teaching me practical skills. FIDM has a great curriculum where designers or business owners can actually use and utilize the skills needed in the real industry. They offer valuable opportunities such as the design awards from respectable organizations in the fashion industry. FIDM also prepared me to turn my own ideas into real products and they gave me the opportunity to connect with other talented people as well. 

Any advice for current FIDM Students? I would advise you to gain various and diverse experiences as much as you possibly can. I still feel I need more and different experiences from varied backgrounds. Set your goal first with what you want to be or where you want to work, but know that sometimes your plan won’t go as you originally wanted. However, if you think about it in a different way and still work hard for it, you can find and gain other new opportunities in that situation. It’s important to keep a balance between sticking to your real goal and accepting the real situation you’re faced with in that present moment. Then, in these situations, you can always find other good solutions. 

What is your biggest goal right now? Right now, I want to keep creating my own collection I lead for my current client, Shein, having all my responsibility. And I also want to keep working on interesting various projects that stimulate my creativity and broaden my design fields. Other than that, my goal for my career is always the same. I want to keep working as a good designer for clients I want to work for, and furthermore I hope I work as a promising director in the near future at an organization I respect. I will keep trying to create unique products for people to feel fresh and hopefully happy through my work. I also want to launch my own collection line independently soon. If I have to work for clients, I need to adjust some conditions for them, but for my work, I want to put all my sincere philosophy into my work. I want to create meaningful work.

Anything else you’d like to share? Let’s connect to create something interesting together! DM me on Instagram @jiyeonlee___. And I would appreciate it if you guys would support my collection from Shein Original Design Project.

Categories:  Business Management Fashion Design Alumni International