“Manners Maketh Man” is a motto Kim Minseok likes to live by, so much so that he’s made it a key part of his latest creative venture.
The eldest member of K-Pop juggernaut EXO, known under the stage name Xiumin, has integrated the quote (which most people will probably recognise from the blockbuster franchise Kingsman) into a capsule collection he’s designed with LA-based clothing brand Represent. The line, which is made up of staple basics like t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts, also includes designs based around his favourite number (it’s 99, in case you were wondering!). The latest in a line of collaborations with artists that include label-mates Ten Lee from NCT and Max Changmin from TVXQ, XIumin sees this collection as another way to connect with fans who he’s celebrating almost a decade in the industry with.
The collection, which launched on December 17th, rounds off an incredibly busy year for Xiumin, who became the first member of EXO to wrap up their mandatory military enlistment at the end of 2020. Since then, he’s piled his plate high with creative ventures. Following a celebratory ‘welcome home’ livestream, March saw Xiumin front his first solo fan meeting and mini-concert, returning the captivating performer back to the stage after almost two years away. June then gave EXO fans (known as EXO-L’s) an unexpected treat with the seven active members of the group releasing a special comeback album ‘Don’t Fight The Feeling’ to celebrate their ninth anniversary. Finally, in the latter half of the year, Xiumin treaded the boards as part of the Korean version of Broadway musical Hadestown in the lead role of Orpheus. It’s fair to say that 2021 gave him and fans a lot to be excited about.
Now, as we enter a new year, Clash catches up with Xiumin to talk about his personal style, how he gains creative motivation from fans and goals for 2022.
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Congratulations on your clothing collaboration with Represent! How did it come about?
I first heard of this collaboration through the team who’s in charge of artists’ collaborations. I actually was already familiar with the project because MAX CHANGMIN of TVXQ! did one before. I thought this collaboration would be a good opportunity for me as well so I was excited to participate.
Was venturing into fashion and clothing something you always wanted to do?
When I normally was working on albums before joining the army, “comfy” was the greatest meaning of fashion. So for me, fashion was mostly sweatsuits, but after being discharged from the military, I started to have a lot of interest in dressing up myself with various fashion styles. I gradually became more and more interested in fashion, and it made me want to design something for myself, hence why this collaboration is meaningful to me.
What was the process of designing the collection with them?
As this is the first collection collaboration for me, I thought it would be really difficult and challenging to create something from nothing. Represent’s manager Jenna [Holtzman] encouraged me to start with “what are the things that inspire me, what am I most interested in,” such as phrases and numbers, etc. Then, Represent’s design team drafted various designs for me to develop. They also helped me reflect my opinion on the collection, so it was easy to approach and the overall process was great.
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One of the main designs is the phrase ‘Manners Maketh Man’ from the film Kingsman – what is it about that quote that you like? Is that one of your favourite films?
I’ve always liked the Kingsman movies. I watched the entire series, and I liked it so much that I watched all the previous films again before I watched the most recent one in the series, The King’s Man. The phrase “Manners Maketh Man” touched my heart because I’ve always valued courtesy even before the movie.
What is the meaning behind your lucky number, which also appears in the collection?
The lucky number that appears in the collection doesn’t really have a special meaning to it. I know it could sound a bit silly, but I just like how 99 is the largest two-digit number, and how it gives the feeling of being big and full.
The collection is described as being based on your personal style – how would you describe your style? Is there any aspect of clothing that you particularly enjoy?
I like comfortable styles, so I prefer overfit designs rather than tight fit. I think I like how it is easy to move in this style. I like that this collection reflects this “comfy” feeling really well.
Your personal style is obviously different to the style you adopt on stage or in performances, but do you have a particular favourite look so far from the concepts you’ve been a part of?
Since it is my job to adapt and perform, I have experienced diverse fashion styles and concepts, and would love to experience more. I especially liked the concept from EXO’s album LOTTO. The clothes were really simple but we used different accessories and jewelleries to liven up the concept. Not only the fit of the clothes, but also the hairstyles and makeup all helped create that “rich” concept.
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What inspires you when it comes to being creative?
There may be a variety of inspirations when it comes to being creative, but there are two main inspirations – first of all, I can’t leave out EXO-L. EXO-L is the driving force behind EXO’s Xiumin. The other inspiration is the relationship between myself and other people. So, I wanted to communicate with fans as well as people around the globe through this collection.
This rounds off a really exciting year for you, which also included a comeback with EXO, a solo fan meeting and a role in Hadestown – do you have any particular favourite memories from the past year?
I wanted to perform on stage SO much while I was in the military service, so all of the activities afterwards were great and memorable. I guess it was a time when everything felt so meaningful.
With a New Year ahead of us, do you have any goals for 2022?
For goals next year, I am preparing a solo album so that I can release it in 2022! Also, I want to try acting. But most of all, my biggest wish is that everyone around me will have a healthy 2022!
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Xiumin’s collection with Represent is available until January 7th.
Words: Lucy Ford // @lucyj_ford
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