by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Kim Bui Kollar on The Future of Fashion

Founder of Banck Creative, Kim Bui Kollar, talks about the future of fashion after COVID-19, work-life balance, and beauty with BEAUBIT.

There’s a lot to learn from Kim Bui Kollar (@aka.kimbui), starting from her unique sense of style to her multifaceted global career. Kim is at the top of her game; the former Fashion Director of #Legend Magazine and Style Director of 3.1 Phillip Lim runs an image-engineering agency called Banck Creative. She’s also a dedicated mother of three.

BEAUBIT gets firsthand insights into the Hong Kong-based fashion creative’s career, how she balances work and life, and her favourite beauty products.

How did your interest in fashion begin?

Fashion has always been an interest for me. I remember arguments with my mother over my clothing choices as an eight-year-old. I also remembering suggesting what my mother should wear as an eight-year-old too! My formative years were the 80s and 90s, which were fun decades in fashion marked by designers like Marc Jacobs, Rifat Ozbek, Azzedine Alaia, Gianfranco Ferre, Betsy Johnson, Christian Lacroix, Calvin Klein. I collected every American Vogue issue in the 90s during the era of the supermodels. Sassy magazine was so amazing for tweens and teens during that 90s grunge angst period and that turning point in fashion.

I have always been deeply interested in discovering new designers and new propositions on how to wear things. It’s like an obsession. I would never say I am obsessed with fashion though. My interest is in style and how it is articulated.

How do you manage to balance your career all while being a mom?

Becoming a mom was one of the best things for me to learn how to have a work-life balance. I had to quickly learn to balance my lifestyle. Having worked in the fashion industry in New York for nearly ten years, I found it completely normal to be driven, with zero limits to how hard I was willing to work. I was taking my health for granted. “Self-care” was not an expression then.

As a mom of three, I have to be incredibly efficient with my time. I’m really mindful of how I spend my time, but I am totally committed when I am present so that it counts. I say “No” to things a lot. I have always taken an approach to parent my kids in a way that cultivates independence to be themselves. There are situations for them to see my work, so they ask questions and understand what I am doing and feel like they are contributing in their own way by being supportive.

Most importantly, I make time for myself whether to exercise or to have treatments. Self-care is extremely important and should not be done with guilt. I feel this energises me to take care of my children because I feel my best. Technology also has been a great tool for managing work and mom-life.

What do you find the most rewarding in the industry that you are in, and what is the most challenging?

The fashion industry has been a platform for me to experience, collaborate with, and be inspired by incredible beauty, creativity, passion, and personalities firsthand. I have sat in fashion shows which have moved me to tears. Words are not enough to describe all of the love, dedication, craft, and magic that is a part of every step of the creative process that brings the dreams to life for the world to see. Creative excellence is inexplicable but is immediately felt when it is there.

Another challenge for me is the denial of globalisation in some conversations and the lack of cultural sensitivities in others. I truly wonder when this will change. I feel like this inhibits growth.

“What I find challenging in the industry is an easily dismissive attitude due to lack of time. Can ideas achieve their potential if they are not allowed to be developed fully?”

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt through your career?

The greatest lessons I have learned throughout my career are to trust my instincts, always consider the consumer end-use, and ask questions. The consumer end-use is what counts in the end and helps to alleviate overthinking. I think the maternal instinct can be an incredible leadership quality and sometimes an advantage.

What is a typical skincare ritual for you?

This quarantine time has given me some time to experiment with my skincare routine and try new things that are working out superbly.

My morning skincare ritual starts with Evian mineral water, which I spray all over my face and then use a FOREO. It’s kind of like dry-brushing for the face and gentle exfoliation. Then I pat on a hyaluronic acid serum, followed by a slightly heavier serum which I pressure point massage onto my face. Then it’s a moisturizing cream on my face and neck. The last step is rosewater facial spray. I have been using the one from Heritage Store (SGD11) for years mostly for the light scent and because the water has been magnetized for a higher energy and vibration level. The Jasmine Garden from May Lindstrom (SGD93) is lovely too.

My night routine starts with Chanel’s Sublimage Essential Comfort Cleanser (SGD120) to remove makeup. Then I will use the Biologique Recherche Lotion P50W (SGD125) and Masque Vernix. If I want to keep things light, I’ll opt for the Virgin Marula Facial Oil from Drunk Elephant (SGD56). I like oils because I can give myself a really good massage. I believe this is a huge part of self-care. The ceremony of self-care, I feel, is incredibly effective.

Lately, I have also been adding in a retinoid program once or twice a week for my sunspots. I like the SkinBetter system, which is a combination of AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads (SGD145) and Intensive AlphaRet™ Overnight Cream Face (SGD190).

Kim’s Beauty Picks
Dr. Frances Prenna Jones Formula, SGD252
Victoria Beckham by Augustine Bader Cell Rejuvenating Power Serum, SGD312
Victoria Beckham by Augustine Bader Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer, SGD135
Mountain Ocean Skin Trip Moisturizer, SGD42
Chanel Rouge Allure Lip Ink in Metallic Purple, SGD52
Oribe Invisible Defense Universal Protection Spray, SGD28
Hourglass 1.5mm Mechanical Gel Eye Liner, SGD30

What is the best beauty advice you’ve received?

I have just recently discovered retinoids and acids in skincare. I always stayed away and was super hesitant because I enjoy being in the sun (I also have not a lot of choice in the matter with three kids who are super physically active outdoors). My facialist encouraged me to try some products with light acids and I have to say that it has been a game-changer. My skin feels renewed. Always follow up an acid with an oil. 

Another great beauty advice I will never forget is “start young!” Taking good care of your skin is like celebrating yourself.

How do you feel beauty complements fashion?

I think beauty and fashion are similar. Both are rooted interests to be the best and most interesting version of oneself. The visual element of both beauty and fashion is high. There is a curiosity to be moved emotionally or to relate to what being looked at.

“I think beauty complements fashion by being a tool to convey a depiction of distinction, personality, and taste.”

COVID-19 is an opportunity to reset and reshape the fashion industry, how do you think this applies to individuals?

COVID-19 has imposed quarantine time for many. I can only speak for myself, but I have enjoyed this opportunity to re-evaluate my personal goals, take a lot of time for myself, heal in many ways, and create new goals. Even though we aren’t physically going places, I feel like I have discovered new worlds and avenues through all of this time to read and watch things. I have found great satisfaction in figuring out how to make things and fix things. Going forward, this will make me a better director with more understanding and compassion to the process, which will ultimately lead to better efficiency. 

COVID-19 has allowed for a moment to reflect on what is important, which I feel can help restructure businesses and lifestyles that can be better sustainable. What a moment to have the time to be able to feel emotions and hope together as a planet. Has it always been easy? No, but challenges are good for growth (and my banana bread recipe has been perfected). I even have had time to experiment and create my own beauty concoctions in the kitchen! My hope is that we will all come out of this more mindful than ever, and we will be inspired in different ways.

How do you think COVID-19 will impact the fashion and creative industry?

COVID-19 has forced the fashion industry to analyse and discuss in terms of how the fashion calendar works, the fiscal return on the investment of show presentations, and the sale cycles of the major department stores and online retailers. I think it is always good to stop, evaluate, and assess. People were getting bored and tired.  I think this forced global conversation will result in changes quickly. There will be massive shifts in habits on all sides, and there won’t be much space for mediocrity.

I think this is also a great time for people to be creative and pivot. This will be an opportunity to let creativity shine and do more with less. I am excited to see the fresh ideas and methods that come out of this. Sometimes when there is a feeling of “nothing to lose”, it’s when the craziest and best ideas present themselves. 

If you liked Kim’s story, there’s plenty more to come, just hit the ‘Sign-Up’ button at the bottom to receive the latest round-up.