Thank U, Next in Fashion – If Only All Reality TV Was This Uplifting

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Tan France, Alexa Chung, and Daniel Fletcher | Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Since the days of Survivor, reality competition shows have been pitting people against each other to see who was the strongest, best, and most talented, but as the popularity of the genre progressed, so did the production antics. It became harder and harder to discern what was a real, genuine moment and what was being manufactured for dramatic effect. 

Netflix’s Next in Fashion, hosted by Tan France and Alexa Chung, is a reality competition show in a league of its own. Project Runway is similar in scope, but it was a show hamstrung by absurd challenges and dramatic, tearful confrontations between contestants. What sets Next in Fashion apart is its gentle demeanor, supportive hosts, and genuinely likeable and talented contestants. Not only do the contestants – who start as collaborative pairs – sacrifice materials and selflessly dispense creative advice, but they also support one another until the bitter end. Even when two contestants remained in the competition, there was more camaraderie than fearful backstabbing, making the fact that only one of them could win even more of a gut-punch. 

[Spoilers ahead.]

The utterly adorable and ridiculously gifted South Korean designer Minju Kim took home the top prize and, along the way, we watched her confidence in her craft grow. It was one of the most rewarding reality competition journeys we’ve ever been on, as we shared along with her highs and lows. In this exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, Kim shared the after-effects of her big win, which saw her collection produced and sold on Net-a-Porter, brand partner and prize supplier for the show. We also talked to Elizabeth Von Der Goltz, Net-a-Porter’s Global Fashion Buying Director, about Kim’s performance on the site and what the luxury e-commerce platform looked for when selecting Next in Fashion contestants. Listen in.

Minju Kim

How did you celebrate your big win?
Netflix threw me an insanely huge party, and I got to see all of the contestants who were on the show. I missed them terribly when I got back to Seoul. Back in Korea, I didn’t get to celebrate with my friends and family yet because of the preparation of the next season.

How challenging is it to scale your business to meet the demands of the Net-a-Porter consumer?
It’s definitely something my sister and I are aware of and working on. We are a very small business and have a different processes to larger companies. Producing for Net-a-Porter was an exciting challenge!

How important is sustainability and inclusivity to your brand?
I think it’s really important, especially inclusivity. I think that is why I have no particular muse when I design. I want anyone who loves my designs to enjoy them as freely as possible. I do think sustainability is very important as well, and it is something my sister and I keep in mind as business owners.

Minju Kim | Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Elizabeth Von Der Goltz

How did this project get started? 
Supporting emerging talent has always been super important to us, so when this opportunity came to us, we knew we had to be involved!

MINJUKIM pieces are already available on Net-a-Porter. What kind of response to the collection are you seeing from shoppers?
The jacquard wide-leg trousers and duchesse-satin maxi dress have already sold out, which is so exciting! We saw huge increases in searches for Minju as soon as the series launched on Netflix. After the launch of the series at the end of January, Minju was in the top five searches in February on Net-a-Porter.

What were some of the requirements you looked for in a winner?
For us, it was about looking at the contestants and finding a winner who would be able to translate their pieces for the Net-a-Porter woman [that would] seamlessly fit within the other designers and collections we stock. We are always looking for the next big thing, especially a brand with a unique point of view and brand DNA that we haven’t seen before.

Alexa Chung, Eva Chen, Tan France, Elizabeth Stewart, and Elizabeth Von Der Goltz | Photo: Courtesy of Netflix
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