Jina Park '11 has always been fascinated with how clothes shape people's lives.
"I think it's really interesting that for work, a person would have to care about how they dress," she said.
Brown has no concentrations in fashion design or apparel, so Park had to find her own path in the world of design. She is concentrating in visual arts and economics but has been interested in fashion since freshman year. "Not to be discouraging to people who want to work in fashion, but I actually found it pretty difficult to work on fashion at Brown," she said.
Park has taken apparel classes at the Rhode Island School of Design and Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. She also studied abroad in Paris for one semester with the Internships in Francophone Europe Program. In Paris, "I ended up working for a menswear firm in the licensing department, which helped me … view the more business side of fashion," she said.
But Park said her most valuable experience came from working in the world of professional fashion. In 2008, she interned in New York with the designer Brian Reyes. Through her work with the designer, she explored the business side of the industry, she said. She even went to South Korea with the company's executives as a translator.
"If they ask for three designs in an hour, but you take an extra 10 minutes or so and you come back with five, maybe that little bit extra will set you apart," Park added.
But in the end, "I decided I wanted to try the more creative side," she said.
At Brown, Park works in painting and drawing as well as in clothing. One of her works, "(Pre)vision," was featured in the show "S(t)imulation" in the fall. Now it hangs behind her bed. The centerpiece of the painting is a giant eye with four quadrants of different colors.
Many of Park's paintings involve bold splashes of color. "Doing visual arts at Brown helped me explore a lot of the color schemes I'm attracted to," she said.
She was drawn to the style of the painter Gustav Klimt. "I use a type of reddish orange that's present in a lot of Klimt's work," she said.
Park is also influenced by the work of Jackson Pollock. In one of the works hanging in her room, the influence is quite literal — on a pane of Plexiglas, she splashed paint, focusing on her signature pallet of bold oranges, blues and reds.
Now, with only a few months left as an undergraduate, Park is looking toward a future in the fashion industry. She is applying to graduate schools in fashion and hopes to get into a program in London.
She emphasized the importance of perseverance. "There are quite a few people in the fashion mafias who went to Brown," she said. But she has had to work to find people to support her, she added. "I'm still working," she said.