Opposition often makes for good drama – and exciting design – and Siki Im’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection is no exception. Strung between two poles: human and machine, a fine line of artistic tension runs through the collection. Im’s fascinating lecture provided a unique insight into his trail of thought, allowing us to see how as a multifaceted fashion designer he reflects his elaborate intellectual inspirations and passion for academic research into a collection’s concept, which he in turn translates into functional and beautifully constructed garments.
During his lecture, Im highlighted the importance of emotion, stressing that meaning must be imbued into clothes, because “fashion is not a product”. Indeed, as Baudrillard’s points out in The System of Objects – a critique of the commodity in consumer society, there is an emotional component involved in owning objects, and once possessed we gain a value from them that goes far beyond mere use and exchange; objects “become things of which I am the meaning, they become my property and my passion.” While technological progress with its instantaneous communication and scientific gimmicks is in many ways an asset to society, before its rise people had different traditions that were reflected in the way they wore, treated and owned clothes. In this day and age, more often than not we more likely admit to “possessing” piles of clothes rather than meaningful collections of garments.
Paradoxically, the inspiration behind Im’s latest show came from his personal collection of transformer robots – androids we often view as being devoid of any emotional capacity. Nonetheless, the collection was far from a mere manifestation of bionic shapes or robotic precision. Instead, it was ingrained with the human condition, a sense of vulnerability that is uniquely tied to humanity clearly surfaced. Simultaneously complete and incomplete, the idiosyncratic looks were marked with imperfection— from mismatching sneakers to zips styled to be only half attached and tops featuring jagged triangular cutouts. The intentionality behind the collection’s offbeat styling serves to celebrate the quirks of humanity, advocating us to embrace our faults rather than covering them up, as ultimately it is these “errors” that mean that we were not mass produced.
 Jean Baudrillard, “The Non-Functional System, or Subjective Discourse,” The System of Objects (Verso, London, 1996): 1.