By Rachael Lovette
Meet Chang Hee Kim, the popular influencer behind JJANG E on IG and TikTok.
Chang Hee Kim is a man of ambition. He is a hairstylist, founder/designer of Val-Dern (a clothing label that promotes modernism), influencer, and soon-to-be YouTuber. Originally from South Korea, Chang Hee Kim is a rising star. With almost one million followers combined across his TikTok and Instagram accounts, Chang is effectively leveraging social media to grow his brand, making him easily recognizable among the influencer frenzy.
In contrast to typical Instagram influencer accounts, Kim emphasizes his personal aesthetic and a level of authenticity that has contributed greatly to his brand’s growth. This fashion enthusiast continues to make his mark with poise and humility. Learn about Kim, his message on social, his Instagram branding approach, and his plans in our exclusive interview.
Whether you’re creating “Let Me Style You” videos, getting glammed up for “What You’d Wear Front Row at Fashion Week,” or surprising us with some fan service, you’re a natural entertainer, engaging fans and capturing hearts across the globe. It’s no surprise that you have such a substantial follower base on Instagram and TikTok that is seemingly growing by the second. How’d you get started?
For the first few years that I was on Instagram, I was doing what everyone else was doing -- sharing daily life photos. That went on for almost three years until I transitioned into fashion. I altered my online persona and style to meet the “Instagram style” and started sharing outfits. However, I found that I was losing interest and beginning to feel burnt out. I am the type of person who wants to go out and show off my outfits, but that wasn’t happening. I would take photos for Instagram, change my clothes, and then go out.
When I first started TikTok, it was as a joke. I didn’t think people would buy into it until other creators began doing the same thing. I found that people really liked my style and aesthetic, so I started sharing the videos and taking photos for Instagram. I try to style all the outfits in my images and videos of how I would normally wear them if I were to leave the house.
I noticed that you regularly wear pieces from your brand Val-Dern in your videos. How did you start Val-Dern? What differentiates it from similar brands?
Val-Dern launched on Instagram in October 2020 as a partnership between a friend who does web design and me. My friend noticed that I was starting to gain popularity online and suggested that I create a brand representing my style because there currently wasn’t any such brand.
Val-Dern is all about merging the value and aesthetics of modernism into one’s everyday life. Our online collection includes ready-to-wear pieces for both men and women. Right now, our product offerings include hoodies, crew neck sweaters, and a cross-body mini bag. However, our goal is to make it a bigger brand with more products and greater brand awareness through recognition beyond Instagram.
TikTok and Instagram Reels are wildly different than most YouTube fashion tutorials we’ve seen because, aside from the fact that they’re way shorter and can hold our attention longer, they tend to be a lot more playful and creative. How much time and effort goes into making one of these videos? Do you do them all yourself?
The amount of time and effort in making a video is determined by its theme and aesthetic. If the video includes multiple outfit changes or elaborate movements, it takes longer than a video with one outfit and limited movement. Overall, I would say the whole process from recording to editing to finalizing takes no more than 3 hours—usually less. I am self-taught, so I shoot, edit, and share all my videos directly on my phone.
Where do you find creative inspiration for your videos?
I am constantly finding inspiration from videos of other TikTok and Instagram creators.
Other times, I’ll have an idea for a concept or visual effect and then look for a song with the right vibe and good beats for transitions. I also get various fan requests for outfit inspiration for K-Pop groups, K-Drama characters, Anime, and more. I have to pick and choose those carefully, so they don’t become redundant or repetitive, and they fit who I am.
So, I have to ask.
Do you consider yourself an influencer?
Only a little bit. I don’t want to make myself seem better or higher than anyone else. I am trying to stay humble and thankful.
You're featured on the massive K-Pop website allkpop, known for its celebrity news and gossip, with a BTS inspired outfit series you created. That’s a big deal to be noticed by them. When did you first realize, or have you yet, that you were starting to create a buzz and become sort of an IT guy in this global phenomenon?
I didn’t start noticing until recently when more and more people started responding to my Reels and TikToks positively.
Now that I can see and feel the growth on my social media accounts, I want to show more outfits on Instagram and TikTok as well as launching a YouTube channel. I had the idea to launch a YouTube channel to show my audience how they can achieve designer-brand looks with budget-friendly fashion from places like ZARA, ASOS, and H&M. I also want to work with designer brands of all levels, from Balenciaga to ZARA, as long as it’s my style.
Based on his social media pages, it’s almost hard to believe that Chang Hee Kim’s cool yet approachable style wasn’t always front and center. In what is now our new normal of low productivity and a lack of creative ideas by the masses, he’s created something truly special. By effortlessly blending his personality and interests, he’s created a growing global community of fans who are actively engaged. But don’t take my word for it. Check out his videos on TikTok and Instagram and his apparel collection here.
Rachael Lovette is the Digital Director at Flower Bomb Media with a passion for everything K-Pop, fashion, model advocacy, and pop culture. Follow her on Instagram @kindofvoguish.