[Exclusive Interview] Exploring the Cutting-Edge of Digital Fashion, Art, and Gaming with Mari Kim

Renowned digital fashion designer, music video, director, and CEO of Cocone N.Y., Mari Kim, is a leading trendsetter in the world of digital fashion, art, gaming, and more. Prior to her role as CEO, Mari directed the critically acclaimed 'Hate You' music video for Kpop group 2NE1, showcasing her unique 'doll eye' animation style. 

With a background in traditional and digital art, her NFT piece 'Missing and Found' sold for 288 ETH in 2021. She's known for her pop art murals and solo art exhibitions worldwide. At Cocone N.Y., Mari leads a team at the forefront of digital fashion and social networking, with over 15 years of avatar styling experience and 16 billion digital items sold. She's currently spearheading a major game launch set to be launched in October.

I recently had the pleasure to speak with Ms. Mari Kim for KpopWise to discuss her many business ventures.

Ms. Kim, your work spans various creative fields such as fashion, music videos, and art. Can you share how your experiences in these areas influence your approach to digital fashion at Cocone N.Y., INC.?

Mari Kim: From a young age, I've always had an insatiable curiosity and passion for various cultures. As an artist, I've continuously embraced and enjoyed immersing myself in new cultural influences, and I've been enthusiastic about challenging myself to create in different fields. Even in the realm of fine art, I incorporate various digital technologies into my work. These experiences give me a significant advantage in my pursuit of diverse commercial endeavors, including collaborations with renowned K-pop artists and other commercial projects.

As an artist, I believe it's essential to constantly venture into uncharted territories and embrace exploration as a routine part of life. In this regard, I see the fashion items in the avatar games published by Cocone N.Y. Inc. as an excellent platform for expressing my artistic sensibilities.

Working with these items will provide me with an invaluable opportunity to continue challenging myself creatively and pushing the boundaries of my artistry.

The music video 'Hate You' for 2NE1 is known for its unique 'Eye Doll’ animation style. Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind this distinctive visual approach and how it contributed to the video's success?

Mari Kim:"EYEDOLL" is a term referring to the girl in my paintings. Despite not having a formal background in fine arts, I've been creating a unique drawing style influenced by comics since my childhood. This style was eventually featured in 2NE1's music video for "Hate You." In terms of animation design, I've drawn inspiration from the works of Frank Miller, the creator of the original "Sin City" comics and movies, as well as David Lynch's distinctive style.

The amalgamation of my comic-inspired form and the dark, neo-noir aesthetics from films I've always admired, along with the influence of 2NE1's music, gave birth to a unique artistic universe that garnered the love and support of numerous fans through the animation music video.

At that time, there was also a significant event involving a nuclear disaster in Japan, which I used as a metaphorical backdrop in the music video. This decision generated considerable attention and discussion, not because it was intended as criticism towards Japan, but as a message aimed at raising awareness about global issues and shared human concerns. Consequently, it drew even more interest from fans who resonated with this message.

As the CEO of MARI MARI, you've established a successful fashion and beauty brand. How do you see the intersection between traditional fashion and digital fashion evolving in the coming years?

Mari Kim: In the current landscape, we've witnessed the emergence of products that begin with digital advertising and then are carried through to production. In this context, it's safe to say that the digital world has brought about significant transformations, particularly in the distribution of beauty and fashion products. We find ourselves in a world where it's increasingly challenging to distinguish between the digital and the physical, leading to a sense of ambiguity.

Our MariMari brand is also part of this trend, incorporating digitally created artworks into our products and relying on digital world influencers for promotion and sales. Indeed, it's reasonable to view our presence as primarily digital, even though the distinction between physical and digital existence may blur. Given that many digital items are sold in a similar manner, this state of ambiguity is likely to persist.

Currently, numerous brands are producing digital products for distribution on online platforms. As the digital world continues to expand, I anticipate that the distribution of digital fashion items will increase exponentially, far surpassing current levels.

Your NFT artwork, 'Missing and Found,' made history by selling for 288 ETH. Could you tell us more about your thoughts on the future of digital art and its impact on the art world?

Mari Kim: Digital art has always existed, but it has historically been undervalued in terms of price and significance when compared to physical art due to its susceptibility to replication. However, I believe that blockchain technology, specifically in the form of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), has the potential to address this undervaluing by providing a means to prove the uniqueness and authenticity of digital artworks. Consequently, I anticipate that the quantity and value of digital art in the fine art world will experience significant growth.

Furthermore, many artists, even those with talent or formal art education, often abandon their artistic pursuits due to the high costs associated with traditional art materials or a lack of exhibition opportunities. In the realm of digital art, where artworks can be exhibited in any digital space, numerous creators now have the opportunity to voluntarily showcase and sell their creations. This has a tremendously positive impact on evolving the traditional art market, allowing a multitude of artists to thrive and contribute to the advancement of the art industry.

Your pop art murals in various locations are visually stunning. How do you see the role of art in immersive entertainment experiences, such as those at Cocone N.Y. and Komodo lounge?

Mari Kim: These days, you can easily find art almost anywhere you go. This reflects the heightened level of appreciation and awareness of art by the average person. It's become evident that art is not just for art collectors; it's something everyone can enjoy. Moreover, it seems like anyone can aspire to be an artist. Throughout history, art and entertainment have always had a passionate love affair. Artists have painted entertainers and celebrities, and celebrities have collected and admired artists' works, creating a continuous exchange of admiration. In the context of being a digital entertainment company, I believe that Cocone also holds a deep love for art. David Grutman, the founder of KOMODO LOUNGE, who is not only a remarkable art collector but also someone who has consistently showcased collaborations with artists and their art, shares this sentiment.

Cocone has a remarkable track record of selling over 16 billion digital items. What do you believe is the key to creating digital fashion that resonates with such a large audience?

Mari Kim: Cocone's beautiful digital fashion items are the result of 15 years of experience. Our designers have studied what users like, how they react, and how they feel emotionally connected to items and avatars. By leveraging this experience, Cocone creates digital items that users love and that resonate perfectly with them. And by leveraging the vast amount of data we've accumulated over 15 years; we bring these experiences to life. Cocone’s employees are true experts in the digital fashion industry.

With your upcoming game launch in December, what can you tell us about the intersection of gaming and digital fashion, and how it's shaping the future of both industries?

Mari Kim: The title of the upcoming game is Centennial. I anticipate that the three factors of art, digital fashion items, and avatar game platforms will create a fantastic synergy. Users have already been exposed to digital art through a plethora of digital items, but they will now witness artists' creations born within the gaming world through digital items. Perhaps this concept will become so popular that many other games might follow suit. Furthermore, Centennial will not only involve collaborations with art but also embrace the spirit of the body-positive movement and genres like KPOP, incorporating numerous new music styles. Users will have the experience of editing music themselves. This is likely to generate significant interest in both the gaming industry and the digital item market.         

Cocone's vision of creating a world where people can express their unlimited imagination and creativity through avatars is something I'm very excited about.

You've had solo art exhibitions worldwide. How does your experience as an artist inform your role as a CEO and visionary at Cocone N.Y.?

Mari Kim: I believe that everything should be approached with creativity. I think that someone with imagination, who can envision the future of a project, user feedback, and market reactions, can grow a business successfully. Drawing from my experience on the world stage, although in a different field, I've always created art by imagining how it would be displayed and how the audience would react. This time, I feel like I'm doing something similar on a different platform. Just like creating art, everything starts from imagination, and being in the realm of digital items offers tremendous potential for expansion, which is incredibly exciting.

 Also, how cool would it be to be able to live another life in virtual space with an avatar that is a projection of your identity, free of constraints and full of possibilities? Isn't that the kind of innovation we dream of?

In the ever-evolving landscape of social networking and digital fashion, what trends or innovations do you foresee that could reshape the way we interact with digital avatars and fashion items?

Mari Kim: As we move beyond the era of COVID-19, many people have become accustomed to digital encounters. What if we had beautiful and captivating avatars along with digital fashion that could truly represent us? Wouldn't it be fascinating to use that avatar on numerous occasions, attending meetings or navigating various platforms? If there is a digital fashion style that I truly want to embrace, wouldn't it make sense to use a fantastic avatar that truly represents me and my style?

Can you share some insights into the challenges and opportunities you've encountered while leading Cocone N.Y. in pioneering the digital fashion industry, and how these experiences have shaped your vision for the company's future?

Mari Kim: Leading Cocone N.Y. Inc. in pioneering the digital fashion industry has been an exhilarating adventure filled with both daunting challenges and thrilling opportunities. It takes courage to venture into uncharted territory, especially in an industry where the rules are constantly evolving. The digital fashion landscape is akin to a creative dance, offering designers the chance to innovate and experiment like never before. It's a realm where you can play with colors, patterns, and interactivity, truly becoming a game-changer in how we perceive and interact with fashion. These experiences have shaped my vision for Cocone's future, emphasizing the importance of continuous innovation and staying ahead of the curve. We're not just creating fashion; we're shaping the way people express themselves, and that's the most exciting part of this journey.


Thank you to Mari Kim for the insightful interview.

You can follow Ms. Kim on her official Instagram page here: MARI KIM IG

Don't forget to visit KpopWise for the latest in kpop related news.


Karly B

Karly is a USA-based Entertainment journalist. An ardent K-Pop fan, her favorite groups are BLACKSWAN and SUPERM and her bias’ are NVee and Kai.

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