Irene Kim for Estee Lauder (Photo via Estee Lauder)
Irene Kim for Estee Lauder. Photo Source: Estée Lauder

Since Estée Lauder announced that Korean It-Girl, Irene Kim, will be their new global contributor a lot of people asked “who is Irene Kim?” Well, those who asked those questions can be classified in two things: 1) They’re not Asian. Or 2) They do not watch nor heard of the show “K-Style”. So which one are you, or are you both?

Well, one fashion website called her “The New Alexa Chung” but I think it’s kinda unfair to brand her like that. I often read in western websites whenever a new Asian It-Girl becomes popular in western countries they brand them “as the new *insert famous name of western model/actress here*” Like when Aishwarya Rai came to Hollywood she was branded the “Angelina Jolie of Bollywood”.

Anyway, this post is about Irene Kim so here are some facts you should know about Estée Lauder’s new brand contributor.

1. She’s a street style star

Irene kim
Photo Source:

Irene Kim hit the American fashion radar during the spring 2014 shows in New York last September. Her rainbow-hued hair set her apart from the legions of street style wannabes, but she remained somewhat mysterious. Sites tagged her as “Model Irene Kim,” but she didn’t walk on any runways in New York. Actually she was featured on my NYFW street style posts here and some other more that I’m too lazy to link.

2. She started late in modelling

Irene Kim rainbow hair

Speaking of runways, Kim actually started late in modelling. She said she became a model only a few years ago. “I started really late in the game. I’ve always loved fashion,” she says. “I just googled ‘Korean modeling agencies’ and the first one that came up I called.” She’s now signed to Esteem in Korea and to Society Model Management in the U.S. She walks frequently in shows during Seoul Fashion Week.

3. She’s an “Influencer”

Irene kim

What’s the common “other job” of models besides acting? Yes, just like most bloggers, Irene Kim is also an influencer. She’s not frequently employed in the so-called “Big Four” fashion cities but she still has plenty of exposure. She attended the Chanel resort show in Seoul in this role, and did a photo diary for while she was there.

4. She was actually born in America

Image via Instagram user ireneisgood
Image via Instagram user ireneisgood

Kim is actually Korean-American. She was born in Seattle and moved to Seoul when she was in middle school. Her parents put her in an international school, where she was one of only two Asian students. She claims she got in a lot of trouble because, as she put it at her meet-and-greet, “I was very Americanized. I was what you call a banana — yellow on the outside, white on the inside. When I moved there I barely spoke Korean.” But soon the country became home. But years later, she left to study textile design at FIT in New York. She’s since been living in Seoul for the last three years.

5. She has a TV show

Just like a K-Pop Idols, she gets treated like a rockstar by fans because she co-host a hit show called “K-Style” that can watch in Mnet America, Channel M and, of course, YouTube. It’s basically a show about all things Korean fashion and beauty which we all know that are very trendy right now.

6. There are people against dying her hair (at first)


Oh bruther 😐 A photo posted by irene kim • 아이린 (@ireneisgood) on

Irene Kim is famous for her rainbow hair but she only dyed it two years ago and some people were against it. “I just got bored with black hair and decided to dye the ends blonde. I did it myself because I wanted ombré,” she says, adding that no one was doing it in Korea. “Then some girl copied me and I was like, ‘Uh-uh we’re not going to have the same hair.'” She then dyed it blue.  “I didn’t even tell my agency. I went to the agency and they stared at me for like five seconds in shock.” Her hair has since become her trademark, and her trusted hair stylist in Seoul dyes it every two weeks or so. She recently freaked her agency out again by chopping her hair into a bob, but at least she prepared them little by little before she did it. “I was imprinting it into their brains for a couple months and they kept saying, ‘No, no, no, no.’ Finally six months later they said, ‘Fine, cut it.'”

7. Her selfies will be your #SkinGoals

My best before bed/confused duck face.

A photo posted by irene kim • 아이린 (@ireneisgood) on

Just look at her glowing complexion! Her makeup-free and #nofilter selfies shows how flawless her skin. She shared some of her Korean skin care tips on her YouTube channel.

8. She loves tiny tattoos

irene kim tiny tattoos

If there are lessons we can learn from the facts I stated about Irene Kim, I think those would be 1) Be yourself and let your personality shine. If she took some of the people’s advice about her hair, I think she will be just one of those girls photographed during Fashion Week that no one quite remember. 2) It’s never too late to start your dream career. And 3) Taking care of your skin goes a long way.

What do you think of Irene Kim?