Image Courtesy SJYP
After the global success of K-pop, K-drama and K-beauty, K-fashion is set to be the next ripple in the Korean wave.
Here are 5 reasons why it’s gaining momentum.
1. COUNTER-CULTURE CHIC
Image courtesy Harper’s Bazaar Singapore
With major political scandals ravaging the country, rebellion is rife and Korean fashion has its finger on the pulse. While traditionally preferring cuteness and convention, Korea’s fashion designers are carving out a new subversive identity.
Clashing colours, uneven lines, and frayed hems are the trends du jour, and while they may be gone tomorrow, this new spirit of freedom is here to stay. And that is what makes Korean fashion more exciting and dangerous than ever before.
Designers like Steve Jung and Yonie Pai of SJYP (stockists listed below) are leading the crew with their distressed denim getups, which have been favoured by fashion plates like Olivia Palermo and even badgirl Riri herself.
2. FROM RUNWAY TO WARDROBE
Image courtesy Vogue.com
Nothing about Korea is grandiloquent. Simplicity, practicality and efficiency rule the Korean psyche, and it shows on the runways of Seoul Fashion Week, where designers like Jei Kim of Fleamadonna feature ensembles that could be immediately worn to an upscale restaurant or even to a Korean barbeque.
Image courtesy Nordstrom
There is nothing more Korean than bibimbap. Nothing. Yes, Kimchi is the national dish and yes, we do have separate fridges for it, but bibimbap is a culinary manifestation of Korea’s obsession with mixing things.
While it’s debatable whether Korea should be allowed to continue to mix sweet flavours with traditionally savoury Western foods, its ability to harness the varied cultural learnings of its fashion diaspora gets my endorsement. Once known as the hermit kingdom due to its isolationist policy, Korea’s ethos for the 21st century has been to look outwards and learn from the best.
My personal favourite, Goen J, studied at the highly acclaimed Studio Bercot in Paris and is now a go-to designer for Seoul’s brunch set. Her exaggerated yet feminine ruffles inject the perfect amount of French romance into her modern fit-and-flare outfits.
Meanwhile, here in Australia, Yeojin Bae has gained a strong following for her powerful, form-fitting designs, merging a Korean penchant for clean colour-blocking with Sydney sex appeal.
4. MIDDLE-INCOME CONSUMERS WITH HIGH MAINTENANCE TENDENCIES
Image Courtesy NAIN
It’s not uncommon to see women in Seoul inspecting a coat in a department store with the rigour of a dog breeder inspecting a show poodle. Koreans care deeply about their wardrobe and demand big bang for their buck.
That’s why Korea is producing some of the world’s most innovative and durable high street fashion, with labels such as Mixxo, Banila B, and NAIN pumping out designs for every budget. The lining and stitching is unparalleled at its price point, and these details are defining traits of Korean fashion.
5. STAR POWER
Image Courtesy Korea Herald
Did you know that in the 90s, the South Korean Government created a Ministry of Culture and dedicated an entire department to Kpop? Well, their work paid off and Korean pop culture has gone from strength to strength, with its celebrities making more inroads into the Asian and Western market. As they gain influence, they give more exposure for Korean labels.
For instance, KYE, a brand known for off-duty rockstar chic, statement jackets with a hint of classic Americana, is a mainstay in the wardrobe of K-pop idols such as the ever-adventurous G-Dragon and 2NE1’s CL.
So, while Korean fashion still remains somewhat under the radar, it’s the reason for this blog’s existence. As a Korean, perhaps I’ve been a bit biased in writing this piece, but I truly believe Seoul is a fashion powerhouse, which is why over the next few months, I’ll be interviewing and reviewing some emerging, eminent and unsung talent in Korea’s fashion industry.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think about Korean fashion and if you have any cherished designers. Also, if you’d like to keep up to date with new posts, remember to follow Yeon and Bee on Facebook.
- Never the Black Tote – (ships internationally) stocks SJYP and Steve J & Yoni P
- Yeojin Bae – stocks Yeojin Bae
- East 43 – stocks Goen J.
- Slow Waves – stocks KYE
- SJYP – stocks SJYP
- Hyundai Department Store – stocks SJYP
- Shinsegae Department Store – stocks SJYP
- AK Plaza – stocks SJYP
- Goen J. – stocks Goen J.
- Mixxo – stocks Mixxo
- NAIN – stocks NAIN
- Banila B – stocks Banila B