South Korean fashion blogger Shini Park has kept her feet very much on the ground despite the success surrounding Park and Cube, her blog and pet project. Her non-obsessive, DIY approach to fashion renounces the materialism of the industry and tries to keep clothes simple, returning the act of dressing and shopping to a more innocent place.
Perhaps it’s this light-hearted, humble take that has given her cult status among fashion bloggers. From being an amateur fashionista two years ago, Shini’s prestige has now given perks such as an invitation to Paris for a private viewing of Coco Chanel’s original apartment to exclusive bra fittings and viewings of Ted Baker’s latest lingerie range at Debenhams. Not bad for a graphic designer that has lived in South Korea, Austria and Vienna.
Shini’s clean, smart and young fashion blog Park and Cube, which turns only two this November, quickly caught the media’s eye after a post on how to jazz up a pair of short trousers by adding chains to it. She never anticipated that her hobby-turned side project venture would draw such worldwide interest.
But Park’s eye-catching DIY ideas led to various mentions and features in numerous lifestyle and fashion magazines across the globe from French Vogue, Vogue Girl Korea, Milan’s Pig, China’s Way, UK’s Company and Sportsgirl. She will also be featured in Vanity Fair’s annual style issue in September.
Fashion lovers were interested in her unique style instinct for the latest ‘must-haves’ and ‘how-to’s of the season. Her focus on practical, DIY fashion gives everyday women access to high-end runway styles with an economically creative touch.
“It’s very relatable,” she told The First Pint. “When you’re a young girl, you always want to try things and make your own bracelets and necklaces. It touches a spot in any girl.”
Believe it or not, Shini Park admits that fashion sense doesn’t come naturally to her and she does have to work at it.
“You can definitely learn style and fashion,” Shini says. She relates it to learning how to create colours in art school by mixing shades. “You learn through experimentation,” she says.
London is her favourite source of this inspiration, whose fashion she describes as “experimental and colourful.”
“In London, you don’t have strict rules about balance, such as a loose top with tight pants…” she says. “There are no rules like that and I love that. Because not everyone looks like a model and basically anyone can wear anything.”
Fashion is about defying convention and Park achieves this in a different, more natural way. Her wholesome, humble image is a breath of fresh air to the often stuffy, self-important circles of today’s unforgiving fashion scene. At a fairly young age of 22, there is a reserved wisdom and maturity tucked away in her calm voice and feminine demeanour.
Instead of a predictable degree in fashion, common to many in the field, Park graduated this summer with a BA in Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design – a school known for its prestigious fashion studies. Graphic design was the most sensible choice for her, having designed websites since she was 16. She never looked to fashion as a career because of the unstable nature of the business.
The loud and trendy fashion scene among students at her university was also quite new to Park who was raised in Poland for most of her life. A year after she was born in South Korea, Park and her family relocated to Vienna for a year and a half due to her father’s job. She spent the next 16 years in Poland before moving to London for study in 2006. Her parents still live in Poland.
Small town life in Poland was quiet and slow, as was fashion and trend-setting. “But because it was slow, in a way it was refreshing and classic,” she admits.
Her fashion interests peaked in London but she noticed that most of the blogs were “idolising materialism and getting to be really shallow”. While the old fashion blogs painted a two-dimensional, square image of the fashion world, she was inspired to start Park and Cube, by adding another depth to to the industry. It’s no coincidence that the cube is part of her blog’s title.
Style, influence and inspiration
Park’s earliest sign of a fashion conscience was at 14 when she made doll-sized paper versions of her entire wardrobe to try on her dolls. This spirit of constant reinvention continues today as she is likely to sell her wardrobe from last year in order to start anew.
She describes the process of putting an outfit together: “I usually start with one hit piece, say like this [points to her shirt, a recent DIY project using safety pins] and then build around it. I had to change my trousers three times today… I couldn’t get out of the house!”
“And the shoes always come last.”
Admitting her obsession with shoes, she adds: “I need to sell some of my shoes.”
Park is still defining her personal style but does know that “it has all to do with class and modesty. For her, this means staying away from anything too revealing due to her Christian beliefs.
“Christianity is not just a religion for me,” she says. “It’s an identity – which is difficult because fashion equals materialism but I’d like to try and work around that.”
Chanel and the future
Most recently, Park developed a new-found appreciation for legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel as she was invited by Chanel headquarters this May for a special private viewing of Madame Coco’s original apartment.
“Every collection has been inspired by something in that apartment and it hasn’t been changed since [Coco Chanel] died. She still lives on.”
Park plans for the future includes contributing to a blog for a PR agency which will have a travel diary feel to it from a fashion angle and is most likely to start from Paris.
Meanwhile, Park and Cube will remain personal and DIY in nature, including the beautiful photography of every post which is all self-produced and edited by her.
Shini’s 5 smart fashion tips
Buy damaged items – If an item is reduced in price because of it is damaged, buy it because it may just be a matter of just, for example, sewing the buttons back on.
Think beyond what’s hung on the rack – You can always add something onto your shirt to make it your own.
Don’t throw away old clothes – You can always revamp it in some new way.
Go to charity shops – Grab the basics for your DIY projects at second-hand stores.
Visit more ‘blog shops’ – Fashion bloggers often sell items they don’t want any more on their blogs. You may find exclusive items no longer found in department stores! “Another woman’s trash could be your treasure,” says Shini.