Merging the physical with the digital, Kim Shui steps into the metaverse with her Spring/Summer 2023 ready-to-wear collection. The New York-based designer partnered with Afterpay for New York Fashion Week to not only crowdsource images for her one-of-a-kind Pixel Dress, but also worked with the financial technology company to host a nationwide casting call to hire a model, stylist and photographer for her latest runway show.
Opening up doors to a traditionally exclusionary industry, Shui brought three creatives from different corners of the country together to take part in her creative process, helping cultivate a new generation of artists that may not have otherwise had the opportunity. As the designer tells Hypebae in an interview, “Starting out in 2016, I had no connections, no financial backing — it was really tough trying to break in without knowing anyone in New York. VFiles gave me my first opportunity through an internet crowdsourcing venture. In a way, I wanted to do that for other parts of the industry, especially for those who didn’t leave in New York. I wanted to be able to provide them with access to this world.” As Shui knows, a photography or styling internship is a lot harder to come by without connections, especially in smaller towns — city girls aren’t the only ones with dreams.
Stephanie Caroline Pereira, a 5’4″ model shares that the experience changed not only her modeling career, but her life as she tells us over email, “Before walking for Kim Shui, I had an incredibly hard time getting into the modeling world. Although I’ve done some basic photoshoots, I wasn’t getting far. It honestly felt impossible and almost as if I would never get a chance to make it in this industry. Kim’s show was my first real modeling experience.”
While the fashion industry has made strides to become more welcoming to a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as backgrounds, it still has a far way to go as catwalks often remain filled with thin, pale bodies and already well-known faces. Stylist Weldy Cazy can attest to the industry’s blind spots as he reveals, “Being a minority in a cluttered industry is hard enough without any guidance. To be a young Black man from a low-income Haitian family styling an NYFW show for a Chinese-owned brand is equally exciting as it is unexpected.”
Delivering the unexpected is certainly the theme for Shui’s newest collection as the Pixel Dress, seamlessly integrating the metaverse with tangible reality. Furthering its mission of artistic collaboration, the line’s standout piece has allowed over 700 people to contribute to a runway garment. Interpreting 784 image submissions, the crowdsourced dress will soon be minted into its own NFT to be distributed to those who helped create the unique garment.
Shui’s SS23 collection also includes a melange of garments that elevates the brand’s much-loved sultry aesthetic with hand-painted molded pieces and flowing Grecian-inspired dresses. The dragon motif appears in several iterations, imbuing sheer high-neck tops and tasseled skirts with a sense of subtle strength. The brand’s latest offering provides an updated take on Shui’s trademark sense of sex appeal as see-through ruffled pants lie underneath feminine off-the-shoulder shifts, while maxi dresses also arrive in the skin-baring fabric, but are paired with shimmering cold shoulder shrugs.
Take a look at Kim Shui’s SS23 collection in the gallery above.