In 2004, Ines Klim came to Asia as a model.
And while many models would just stay interested in walking the runway or living the life, Klim was enthralled by business of fashion.
A few years later, Klim decided to return to her native Poland, where she received training under a master tailor, and by 2011 she was presenting her first collection of resort wear in Hong Kong.
Since then, she’s extended her SENSES collection to include bikinis and one-pieces.
Klim’s designs are cool and sensual and luxe — made for models and jet-setters, dreamers and paradise-seekers.
As Klim says, “SENSES is dedicated to women who have spread their wings and discovered amazing places across the globe, women who can travel with just a grab bag yet still look like they flew first-class all the way.”
For more information about Ines Klim and her SENSES collection, please visit: http://inesklim.com/shop/. Our interview with designer is below.
1. Why did you become a designer?
Because that’s one of several things I’m really good at. It was always in me, I knitted sweaters in high school ordered by my classmates.
I’ve dreamt of going to fashion school but chose economic studies instead. One day during my work as a PR & Events Manager at the original Armani Bar/HK a guest said- you have a very cool & memorable name, you should start a lingerie brand.
I was already designing and producing costumes for models and artists performing at our events but didn’t give much though to starting my own business.
When the global market collapsed two years later and there was no budget to keep my position I asked myself – now I can start from the beginning, what would I really want to do? What would make me happy and keep me going in 5-10-20 years? And the answer was to create a fashion brand.
2. Who are your influences?
I have to say I am not easily influenced… I do not have fashion gurus and if I’d be given a chance to meet someone famous I’d probably have a problem to pick one name. I must say my mum was a strong influence on my general sense of style. As a kid I used to watch her get ready for work and put on her make up step by step, no shortcuts. She would always dress appropriately to the occasion teaching me that it may be one way of showing respect for others.
3. Why did you choose to design swimwear?
I’m based in Asia now, been here for over 10 years already and had a chance to get familiar with the local scene. Resort holidays are very common so it makes perfect sense to target that sector. Considering the market potential there aren’t many good boutique swimwear brands in HK which are locally designed and produced. Plus SENSES as a brand consists of silk resort wear and swimwear complements it well.
Triangle Bikini in Blue Logo Print
4. Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. It may sound clichéd but for a young artist inspiration is literally everywhere. My previous collections were inspired by the animal kingdom but not in your typical choice of leopard or zebra pattern. It was snakes and birds. I am amazed by the nature’s ability to create such complex and stunning creatures. And it’s for us to enjoy if we only want to see it.
5. How did you wind up in Asia?
It was modeling, I was offered a contract and I took it. I’ve always been a curious one. When asked by many from my small hometown “why would you want to travel so far from home,” I said “why not.”
Not that I ever wanted to escape it, quite the opposite, I love my family and we are very close. I just always knew there was something interesting waiting for me. My first modeling trip was to Guangzhou in the Guangdong province of China and funnily enough I liked it!
At that time I did not have any comparison so I’ve done my best at work and earned myself a first car – a bright purple Mazda 323! ( Please don’t judge, it was almost 12 years ago! It had quite a good horse power and was later nicknamed the Purple Thunder.)
6. What’s it like starting a business in Hong Kong? Any suggestions or tips for people wanting to start their own venture?
I would say that it is a truly educational and humbling experience. I have a huge respect for creative and brave people with entrepreneurial spirit but make sure you REALLY want it and are ready to tackle all sorts of problems.
Be ready to overcome the anger and sadness when dealing with unlawful clients, be ready for sleepless nights when awaiting that one important email that may change your life, but also remember to have fun with it.
Since you are building something from scratch, it’s easy to forget about simple things.
Days go by and you realize that you’ve been neglecting your friends and family during the process… I often have to strike a balance between the social life and the workload hoping that true friends will understand and forgive. And that one day we’ll all be enjoying the sweet fruits of my labour together.
SENSES Resort Wear Collection
7. What should women look for in a bikini? A monokini?
Like with anything in life you need to find your own balance, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses to find the right match.
For example Asian ladies tend to pick more modest cuts whereas I would go for less coverage since I love to tan. I am quite liberal in this area, wear whatever you feel like but make sure you own it!
Nothing more uncomfortable to watch than a girly-girl wearing painted leather 4-inch stilettos and struggling to walk in them! Same goes for swimwear, you don’t have to wear a huge push bra up if you are small chested, some styles actually look better on girls with an A cup.
To sum this up I would suggest to come to me with an inquiry. Tell me what would you like to achieve by wearing your swimsuit and based on your expectations – whether you’re looking for a true showstopper effect or just want to fool around with the waves – I would recommend something suitable for the occasion and your figure.
8. What is the most iconic piece of swimwear ever created? Is it Ursula Andress’ bikini in Dr. No?
Ah yes, I guess Ursula and Pamela are the most commercially recognizable swimwear icons, mainly among men… By the way, why is it that some guys can remember the whole movie down to exact lines but when asked to buy lemon grass for a Thai dinner they’ll bring you lemons…? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself!)
9. Why should a person buy one of your designs?
Because it’s a truly great product and it will make you feel and look great. With several years of experience as a fitting model for Victoria’s Secret, I focus on fit as much as on the visual impact.
It is crucial to feel comfortable before we can think of impressing others, attitude first- the looks will follow.
Another valuable point is that I am offering something unique in this increasingly unified world. SENSES is a boutique brand and by definition it will always focus on originality. I create my own patterns instead of copying existing models.
Believe it or not but I do not follow leading fashion brands. I do not read VOGUE or watch latest runways just so I can stay fresh and let the creativity take the lead.
Bandeau Bikini in Turquoise Snake Print
10. What is your most favorite resort or beach destination?
So far it would have to be Maldives and Bali. I say so far because there’s still so much to see! I’ve got a life ahead of me and a world waiting to be discovered and that’s pretty amazing.
11. What was your most favorite holiday, and why?
I don’t think I can point out one holiday as my fave, it’s like saying all other ones weren’t as good and that’s not fair.
I live quite intensively and what I remember from holidays are moments with family, friends or just by myself which I cherish and keep the memory of.
I still remember the shivers I had from staying too long in cold waters of the Baltic Sea while vacationing with my parents. I love water and as a five-year-old I would stay in until my lips went blue and I was pulled out by my mum. Sun, sand and sea – a perfect combo for all generations!
I also remember fishing at 6 a.m. with my dad in Norwegian mountains and having the fresh catch for lunch that day! From most recent ones it would have to be the trip to Cote d’Azur – absolutely in love with the French Riviera!
12. What is a good book for beach reading?
To my regret I am yet to find the balance between work and private time… I always try to arrange business meetings anywhere I go, that leaves little time to spare… Nevertheless my reading list keeps growing and I’ll surprise you here – it’s largely about psychology!
Swimsuit in Blue Logo Print
13. What is your most favorite outfit?
Will it be inappropriate if I say my birthday suit…?
14. What are five items you always pack for vacation/holiday?
SENSES swimwear and kaftans – naturally! Also a good mood, determination to work out every day (never works…),a strong desire to finally get a good tan ( I don’t tan well in Asia) and lip balm. I don’t leave the house without it, got one in every bag.
15. What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Looks can be deceiving, due to my fair complexion and rather cool European style I’m often perceived as Ice Queen but in fact I’m a warm and caring person.
Unlike most women ( and some men! ) I am not afraid of mice.
I like horror movies, I loved them as a teenager actually, watching one every day after school!
I’m addicted to buying fabrics, got loads of gorgeous textiles in my studio waiting to be made into a stunning gown.
And I make the best pierogi in town! (Pierogi are little dumplings stuffed with either cottage cheese, potatoes and onions / mushrooms and cabbage / minced meat or seasonal fruit like cherries or blueberries, who hasn’t tried them before must do so! And it should be hand made by a Polish person 🙂 Together with my cousin Maggie we create a great team in producing this time-consuming but greatly satisfying dish.
Monokini in Turquoise Snake Print
16. How often do you travel back to Poland? Any tips or recommendations for people wanting to visit your country or hometown?
Oh wow, where do I start??? I try to go back at least once a year, either summer holidays or Christmas.
Poland is fantastic! You’ve got the soft white sand coast line stretching for over 700 km in the north and a mountain range down south. You’ve got lakes and massive forests. Apart from the wilderness, Poland has a long history and a vibrant culture. Not to mention the food, beer, and vodka! Oh and did I mention Polish women are among the most beautiful? Poles are generally very welcoming and friendly, just don’t try to beat them in drinking. You’ll hate them in the morning!
If you are into culture and history you should visit Cracow and Wroclaw. If you want to do business and explore the hipster scene you should chose the capital – Warsaw. Fans of extreme sports will find something for themselves in Poland, too!
I come from a small town near Wroclaw, Lower Silesia region. The town is called Zabkowice Slaskie which in German translates as Frankenstein. It is believed that tragedy which took place there in 1606 has served as an inspiration for Mary Shelley’s famous novel about the gigantic monster. To cut the long story short – there were a few cruel and greedy gravediggers who poisoned their victims with a mixture made from dead bodies. Those actions then led to a massive outbreak of bubonic plague killing over 2,000 people. The happenings have been mentioned in local chronicles and the story itself grew out of proportion, passed on from generation to generation, creating a myth of the evil Frankenstein creature. It is questionable, although possible, that 300 years later Mary Shelley came across the legend and the rest is history.
All images courtesy of Ines Klim and photographer Miles Slater