Style Signature: Meet Min Lee
Usually on the other side of a menswear interview, fashion editor & writer, Min Lee, (finally) shares HER story.
In my ongoing "Style Signature" series, I talk to menswear creatives of color about how they are making their mark. Thank you so much to my incredibly talented friend, Min Lee — an editor & writer focused on menswear — for sharing her OWN fashion story, for a change!
I've had the HONOR and pleasure of working with Min, fashion editor for Composure Magazine and writer for the Korean-based magazine, DISPURS, often! As a fellow Korean woman working in menswear — and true champion for independent fashion designers — we have (more than) a few things in common.
With a background in scientific writing, she then began penning her love of fashion. Still balancing both the health and fashion worlds, Min talked to me recently about her inspiration, her unique writing history and our mutual love & respect for the craft of menswear.
Thank you so much for speaking with us! First, tell us about your writing, especially for menswear.
I try to write in a more positive manner. Designers work insanely hard to create their dreams, so I don’t want to be that harsh critic. It also makes me choose very carefully what I want to write about.
I wrote for a few months with The Idle Man (United Kingdom), and that was my first true solid menswear writing experience; it changed how I view fashion quite a bit. Now, I prefer to stay on top of menswear labels.
Who is your reader?
My reader...this is a good question. I feel my readers are young professionals that don’t quite follow fads but are looking for more quality clothing and sustainable clothing.
How did you get started?
My first leap into writing began when I was still in college. I would write quick short pieces for fashion designers starting their lines. I also wrote research pieces within the microbiology field...complete opposite, right?!
From there, I continued to expand and wrote for various magazines. Then, I had a two-year run with Audrey Magazine (sister magazine of KoreAm Journal, now Kore Asian Media). The past couple of years, I’ve been working as a fashion editor for Composure Magazine.
What is your background?
My background is actually in the sciences. I studied biology, chemistry, psychology and social stats in college. I still work within the health industry.
Fashion is something that has stayed with me since 2003. I managed to balance both fields so far, even though they’re very different from each other.
What inspires you & your work?
Actually, “the struggle” inspires me. Watching designers build up from their very first notes and sketches to full-fledged collections fascinates me. The ability to create something big from a beginning idea is an arduous road. These people inspire me and make me want to share their stories as much as possible.
It’s also why I try to find new sources to write for, so there are more readers learning about these brands. Sometimes, there’s a niche market that inspires me. I do enjoy reading the larger publications like Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, but I love indie publishers as well. There’s so much to learn and write about.
What’s your best advice today for your younger self, just starting out?
Work hard. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the social world. Social media doesn’t help much; it sucks time more than anything.
I would advise myself to read more — read every day, and not just fashion — everything; everything that’s happening around me. What’s going on around us influences every industry, including fashion.
Who would you love to work with that you haven’t yet?
This is a good question. I’m not sure if I’ve ever set a goal of who I want to work with. I view the people I’ve met and worked with as good fortune.
What do you love about working with menswear?
I really try not to use the words "classic" or "timeless," but that’s what menswear really is. It doesn’t get caught up in fads or trends the way womenswear does. It really is about finding top-notch tailoring and high-grade materials.
There’s not as many accessory or jewelry options, so what’s available to men is limited. This makes brands really, really push to find the best of the best, and I appreciate that search for quality.
What is your "style signature?"
My own personal signature style? I dress like a man. Tailored jackets, button-downs, clean lines. I even wear brogues and derby shoes often.
My poor husband — he complains he’s dating a man instead of a woman at times, because in the 14 years we’ve been together, I finally bought my second (yes...my SECOND) dress this year!
What are five fun facts that we may not know about you?
I used to sleep two hours a night, because I had a World of Warcraft gaming addiction.
I was the worst-dressed in college. Tie-dye shirts, cargo pants and a few Nintendo shirts made it into the rounds.
I played street hockey (and have tons of scars from it, too).
- You can find me at Izakaya Takasei all the time with my dongsaeng (one's younger sibling or younger close friend in Korean)!