Minho and Eunha arrived in front of a building that stretched towards the sky.
“The design studio is on the 20th floor of this building. It’s the place where all the prototypes of the T brand line are produced.”
Eunha pointed to the upper floor where the large sign ‘TRUE FASHION’ was attached.
“You’ll see it when we get there, but the place is huge. Stick with me so you don’t get lost.”
She gestured behind her and shrugged. Minho put his hands together and nodded respectfully.
“Of course, I’ll trust only in you sunbaenim.”
Even a familiar scene like the back streets of his own neighborhood would be a joy to see with such a kind and beautiful guide. Minho smiled contentedly and followed Eunha.
The guard recognized Eunha and immediately opened the employee entrance as they walked into the lobby, so she continued to speak about her experiences without stopping.
“The sporty look was the main line for last year’s fall season. You know the clothes that look like athletic wear but don’t look awkward to wear everyday? We’re going to wear one or two outfits that sold well last season and take couple photos, so you should think of some active poses.”
Eunha asked a question as Minho pondered about poses.
“Do you have any sports you played before? It’s good to decide on the movements before we go.”
“I tried baseball a little bit, but…”
Minho tried to recall the pitching pose he practiced during his childhood when he followed his friend to the baseball lessons. During that time, everyone was adamant about only pitching to become like No. 61 Chanho Park who was famous in the major league.
‘Did I bend my arm like this?’
Minho tried it for a moment as he walked but he couldn’t even make a catching pose let alone make an awesome pitching move. Minho quickly put down his hands thinking it wouldn’t do.
“You played baseball, you said?”
Eunha spoke as she clapped her hands together.
“Then let’s do this. I tried to pitch once too for the opening of a game.”
Minho doubted if any satisfactory pose could come out of doing only one opening throw.
“How I did it was…”
She stopped in place and got into the pose. She fixed her gaze ahead as she gathered her hands together. A windup. She set her left foot back as she lifted her hands in an overhead motion. Then she lifted her slim leg in a kicking motion.
Minho stood watching and his eyes grew wide.
Her form wasn’t that of a professional pitcher but each of her movements was filled with life. It looked like a scene from a commercial. Minho thought that it would be picturesque if he took a photo of her just as she was even though he wasn’t a professional photographer.
‘This company hasn’t kept her on as their model for no reason.’
Eunha finished her pose and smiled as she straightened up..
“How’s that? I practiced for a while before I went but I couldn’t throw a strike.”
“I’ll be the batter if we go with baseball, sunbaenim.”
Minho quickly realized he wasn’t in any position to tell her what to. He didn’t need to do an internet search to see if she pitched properly or not since she was an actress with both beauty and acting skills.
They arrived in front of the elevator in no time as they conversed. Eunha pressed the button and suddenly spoke as if she remembered something.
“Oh yeah, you’ll be surprised when you go up and see the chief director.”
“She’s very sharp and decisive. I wonder if there would be anyone else in the world who has mastered fashion trends as well as her. And…”
Eunha lowered her voice and covered her mouth with her hands even though no one was listening.
“And she has a temper. So remember her name. Miranda Song.”
Minho listened more carefully because even Manager Gong who brought overflowing amounts of documents every time couldn’t get information about the internal affairs of the T brand.
The elevator doors opened. Eunha, about to enter, saw the middle aged man wearing a suit already inside and immediately straightened up. Then she tapped Minho’s shoulder and quickly whispered in his ear that this was the man responsible for the marketing department.
“Hello, Chief Choi.”
Eunha bowed as she got in the elevator. The man in his early 50s with grey hair returned her greeting with a glad expression.
“Oh, Ms. Eunha. Is it already the fall photoshoot?”
“Yes. You might be tired of me but I’m here again.”
“What do you mean? We’re thankful because the clothes sell better since you became the model. How about an exclusive contract with us since we have a new cosmetic line coming out this time?”
“I think you have to talk to my company president about that matter.”
“Ah, President Im is too strict. She doesn’t want to lose out one bit. It’s like she looked at our company’s account books or something.”
“That’s why I’m working with KG.”
“It might be more beneficial to bring in President Im as the exclusive CEO of our company. Haha.”
Eunha maintained a courteous smile throughout. Minho was surprised as he saw a stiffness in her face that was different from the way she usually talked to him. He thought she was someone who would treat everybody frankly but she drew a line and was firmly not crossing it right now.
‘When she‘s working, she’s a professional too?’
Chief Choi turned to Minho who was standing next to her.
“But this is…”
Minho bowed his head as it became his turn to say hello.
“I’m very pleased to meet you. My name is Minho Kang.”
“Ah, the male model right? I think I saw you on the candidate list. Nice to meet you. I’m Sangsik Choi from the marketing team.”
Chief Choi’s voice was cheerful but the position he was in was quiet influential. The model for the next quarter would change according to the candidates the marketing team members would suggest. And this person was the head of that team.
Minho stood behind Chief Choi feeling a bit pressured.
- Today’s goal is for you to sufficiently appeal to them that you are a model worth keeping for the next season photoshoot.
Minho felt Manager Gong’s voice ring in his ear like an automated service. Minho shook his head in order to put aside that overwhelming voice.
The elevator doors closed and Minho stared at the floor buttons. He knew that Chief Choi was headed towards the design studio since the 20th floor button was already pressed.
- Going up.
There was no sound but the automated machine announcements since his conversation with Eunha had naturally ended. Then the elevator stopped on the 8th floor. The doors opened and a lady holding a bunch of clothes entered.
Minho and Eunha quickly moved to the inner side of the elevator in order to make space because the lady was holding so much it covered her view.
Chief Choi moved to one side as he took some clothes off her hands.
“You seem busy this morning, Ms. Sooyoung. Is it Miranda’s errands?”
Secretary Sooyoung Kim looked as if she were about to cry.
“Chief Song requested this many samples from the designs that were eliminated from the fall line, again.”
“What I heard was Miranda took out the knit sweater from the new product line because she didn’t like it. Is that why?”
Sooyoung Kim nodded to what Chief Choi said.
“So how much is the damage?”
“I heard a bit from the production team but they said it will be more than 500 million won.”
Chief Choi frowned playfully but then grinned and scratched his chin.
“I guess that knit was sweater was lousy.”
Minho was baffled to hear Chief Choi speak as if it was something trivial. He felt Chief Choi was from a different crowd of people since he laughed as he accepted the fact that Miranda blew off 500 million won. After realizing this was the world of fashion business, his body was filled with tension.
The elevator arrived on the 20th floor. Chief Choi who got off first spoke to Minho and Eunha.
“Then ‘fighting!’* to both of you. And I’ll see you when I visit the photoshoot later.”
Chief Choi walked away with light steps. Sooyoung Kim said goodbye to Minho and Eunha and then followed behind Chief Choi and disappeared into the studio.
Minho sighed in relief and finally relaxed. Eunha returned to her usual soft expression and turned around to look at him.
“He’s sharp when it comes to work. He said he’ll come by later so you can’t be off guard. You have to land the contract for the next season.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, sunbaenim.”
Minho said this with all his heart not as a joke. The way she treated Chief Choi with respect wasn’t too much or too little but just enough. Their relationship was having a light conversation with each other while greeting each other with a distance that wasn’t overwhelming. It was a skill related to social interactions.
Minho remembered that Eunha was studying international political affairs in depth. He couldn’t imagine what he would have to study in order to converse with her if she became a foreign affairs diplomat.
Either way, Minho was sure he would’ve made a mistake getting in the elevator and not recognizing Chief Choi’s face. Since it seemed he already knew Minho’s face.
“Shall we go, Minho?”
Minho turned his head and met Eunha’s sparkling eyes.
‘It’s lucky I’m here with an angel.’
Minho got off the elevator and stepped into the design studio. As he slowly looked around, he could see that what he had heard before coming up here was all correct.
The space was sectioned into many rooms with different interiors behind clear transparent glass. There was a clean looking room with all white furniture, and another that was chaotic with all kinds of fabric and clothes.
Eunha who was walking in front asked Minho how he felt.
“What do you think, Minho? It’s very complicated like a broadcast studio, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but it seems like it was decorated respecting each designer’s individuality.”
Minho’s eyes moved restlessly as if he were looking at clothes in a marketplace. His walk automatically slowed because there were things to see scattered everywhere.
‘So this is the top design studio that creates the fashion trends?’
One designer who was touching up the clothes on a mannequin moved some pins and in an instant changed a simple dress into one with an elaborate texture. And next to that one, they had three similar skirts that were displayed and they were putting together different accessories to create completely different styles.
“Minho, Miranda Song’s office is right up front…”
Eunha was still walking forward, but sensed the emptiness behind her and turned around. Then she laughed when she found Minho mesmerized, watching a designer sewing. She had gazed around this place with exactly the same look on her face two years ago.
She slowed down, keeping pace with Minho’s steps.
They went past all the designer rooms and came to a large hall. Minho stood in front of T brand’s exclusive photoshoot studio and looked inside.
There was large lighting with a box reflector that blocked out any outside light. The staff was busy setting up the background.
Eunha pointed to the corners of the hall.
“On the left is the dressing room for women, and the right side is for men. There’s a common area for waiting behind the set. For the lounge and restroom, go out and turn down the hallway.”
Eunha’s kind guidance ended with the explanation of the photoshoot studio. Minho immediately bowed to show his gratitude.
“I would’ve gotten completely lost if I came by myself.”
“Ahem! I told you to trust only me.”
Eunha put both her hands on her waist as she lifted her chin and boasted cutely. Minho was completely charmed by her beauty and zoned out for a moment. When she saw him like that she laughed as she spoke.
“You don’t need to be overwhelmed at all. This is nothing compared to the help you gave me last time. This help isn’t even help that’s worth awarding a drink from the vending machine. Even though my throat is dry from talking so much but you don’t need to worry about it.”
Minho burst out in a laugh at Eunha’s passive aggressive appeals.
“This isn’t something to call even with just a drink, but can I get you something?”
“I won’t stop you if you say you’re buying.”
Eunha continued to talk while taking the bag off her shoulder.
“It seems the photographer isn’t here yet. Let’s wait at the lounge until Manager Gong gets here. I’m going to go put my bag away first.”
“Then I’ll go and buy a drink that will refreshingly quench your throat, Eunha sunbaenim.”
“Then you do that, hoobaenim*. Oh yeah, I like juice.”
Minho went first, since he didn’t have any bags to put in the dressing room. As he walked towards the lounge with the line of vending machines, Minho fixed his gaze on one room at the end of the dividing hall. It looked like the room of a high-positioned person since there was a desk for a secretary in the front.
‘Huh? What’s this light?’
He exclaimed automatically as he focused and looked carefully. There was a faint glow on the doors and the entire wall. It felt the same as when he had discovered cafe Once.
Minho was heading to the lounge but his footsteps turned towards the faintly glowing wall as if entranced.
Fighting: In some countries such as South Korea, “Fighting” is used as words of cheer. The meaning of “Fighting” is similar to the meaning of “Let’s go” or “Do your best” or “Good luck”
Hoobaenim: used to refer to juniors. However, the term is not normally used to address them directly, but is mainly used in the third person