Seoul Fashion Week: A vision of the creative future of Korean designers

Korean culture has spread like wildfire around the world in recent years, with the hugely successful K-Pop, K-Film and K-Beauty sectors attracting insatiable interest. Now, South Korea wants to take its fashion industry to the next level.

The drive is being conducted by the biennial Seoul Fashion Week (SFW), which, according to the city government, aspires to become the “fifth most significant fashion week in the world” after New York, London, Milan and the “Big Four”. Paris.

The event schedule, which ended Wednesday, spotlighted local talent through a mix of live-streamed runways and some of the first private shows since 2019. “Squid Game” star and men’s clothing icon Lee Jung-je has acted as a “global” ambassador, “when four designers debuted in their collections at Paris Fashion Week earlier – part of an effort to attract more international attention and shoppers.

Below are some key takeaways from the week-long event.

Models walk the runway during a rehearsal for the BONBOM show as part of Seoul Fashion Week 2022 AW on March 18, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

A private show is held at the Seoul Museum of Craft Art.

A private show is held at the Seoul Museum of Craft Art. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

C-ZANN ​​E is a brand inspired by minimalism and traditional Korean hanbok.  Models wore ornate headpieces under the runway.

C-ZANN ​​E is a brand inspired by minimalism and traditional Korean hanbok. Models wore ornate headpieces under the runway. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

BIG PARK's AW 2022 collection includes floral prints inspired by camellia flowers.

BIG PARK’s AW 2022 collection includes floral prints inspired by camellia flowers. Credit: Big Park

The new format reveals creativity

Because of the Covid-19, most brands have practically reappeared, portraying their Autumn-Winter 2022 creations in a variety of ways – some to the point of confusion, and others in a way that seemed almost superior to the physical runway show.

Seokwoon Yoon, whose new label is named “Future Species, AI Robots and Extraterrestrials”, has chosen the architecturally attractive Busan Cinema Center as its background. Models dressed in colorful outfits and lung outerwear stood out in the clean, gray aesthetics of the building’s exterior seats. Eun said that although she misses the power to do physical shows, the layout allows her to zero in on the details of certain outfits.
SEOKWOON YOON This look is opened with a model wearing, with patterns indicated by a combination of art materials and flowers.

SEOKWOON YOON
This look has been opened with a model wearing a pattern informed by a combination of art materials and flowers.
Credit: Seokwoon Yoon

Eun said she felt young Korean designers had great potential in the global fashion industry. "They have their own processes and ideas." The concrete tetrapod from Busan beach influenced part of this sculpture.

Eun said she felt young Korean designers had great potential in the global fashion industry. “They have their own processes and ideas.” The concrete tetrapod from Busan beach influenced part of this sculpture. Credit: Seokwoon Yoon

Elsewhere, the emerging label Compass Not Enough Words appeared on the runway as a retro-style music video with energetic choreography, with Hanacha Studio’s show beginning with a lighting piano track and moody lighting, focusing the collection on art and abstraction.
Models dance on the COMSPACE NOT ENOF WORDS autumn-winter show.

Models dance on the COMSPACE NOT ENOF WORDS autumn-winter show. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

COMESPACE NOT ENOF WORDS 'consisting of monochromatic appearance.

COMESPACE NOT ENOF WORDS ‘consisting of monochromatic appearance. Credit: Compass is not a word

Theories by artist Wassily Kandinsky and Hilma AF Clint reveal the approach of Hanacha Studios this season.

Theories by artist Wassily Kandinsky and Hilma AF Clint reveal the approach of Hanacha Studios this season. Credit: Hanacha Studios

The Miss G Collection was staged at outdoor and indoor film locations.

The Miss G Collection was staged at outdoor and indoor film locations. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

Korean fashion on the world stage

Haijeong Cho, a director in charge of Seoul Fashion Week, said interest in Korean fashion was growing and the city government was “actively supporting leading Korean designers and brands to enter the European market.” For the first time, four Korean designers, including Eenk and Doucan, represented SFW at Paris Fashion Week – a time when the world’s most important buyers and influential editors descended on the fashion capital.

DOUCAN showed at the Palais Brongniart in Paris.

DOUCAN showed at the Palais Brongniart in Paris. Credit: DOUCAN

Choi says his vision is to create clothes that make you feel "Happy the moment you put on them."

Choi said his vision is to create clothes that make you feel “happy the moment you wear them.” Credit: DOUCAN

In the historic Palais Brongniart, Doucan floral and geometric tie-dye prints woven, mainly in the red, blue and white colors of the Korean flag, beautiful silhouettes – some carved, others more structured – in a very wearable collection that pays homage to Seoul. . “Seoul is the city of the night,” said Chung-Hun Choi, the label’s creative director. “I wanted to show the great but dynamic power felt through this collection.”

Eenk, another brand that debuted in Paris, presents a collection featuring powerful, vintage-inspired pieces in 1980s fashion editorials that evoke glamor and energy at once. “(Brand’s) identity is at the same time classic but unique, familiar but contemporary and looking for a balance of novels,” says Eenk designer Hyemee Lee.

EENK designer Haimi Lee said the growing popularity of K-culture worldwide has given designers more confidence.

EENK designer Haimi Lee said the growing popularity of K-culture worldwide has given designers more confidence. Credit: EENK

"More South Korean brands now have their own strong identities and consumers are not only following the trends but also following their own tastes and senses.  I think it's the beginning of Seoul's unique story and culture," Lee said.

“More South Korean brands now have their own strong identities and consumers are not just following the trends but following their own tastes and feelings. I think this is the beginning of the unique story and culture of Seoul, “said Lee. Credit: EENK

Embrace identity, take risks

Seoul-based brand Painters was one of the labels featuring more experimental creations. Young designers often follow new trends for their ready-to-wear collections to grow the business, said founder One Zion. Focusing on couture, Won has included sculpture, handmade pieces in his new collection of commercially-friendly clothing mixes. One of these looks was a giant handset gown made of black deadstock fabric from the designer’s studio, wearing a model in a steel-like “frame” pose. The other conceptual works in the frame “reflect the desire to express how (young designers) can do more,” One explained.

“I want to showcase my own culture through my collection. I think it should represent where I live and what I do. “

The painters' autumn-winter collection blends conceptually with ready-to-wear.

The painters’ autumn-winter collection blends conceptually with ready-to-wear. Credit: Painter

A model poses in one of the Painters' gowns - made entirely of deadstock.

A model poses in one of the Painters’ gowns – it’s made entirely of deadstock. Credit: Painter

Mina Chung’s Ethereal Autumn-Winter 2022 collection has already embraced the East Asian art concept of “light and shadow”, which she said “describes an aesthetic that combines simplicity and perfection.” The soft, flowing materials structure and contrast with the color pops. In one look, a model is seen adorned with a variety of fabrics, a silhouette inspired by an ancient Chinese landscape painting.
"The mountains of painting have bold, strong lines that can be translated into a 3D silhouette," Chung said silhouette layering with fabric has created more drama.

“The mountains of painting have bold, energetic lines, which can be translated into a 3D silhouette,” Chung said, adding that the silhouette with the fabric has created more dramatic layers. Credit: General Mina

"I wanted one part of the collection to be bold but easy, and the other part to be more direct and eye-catching, louder," He said.

“I wanted one part of the collection to be very bold but simple, and the other part to be more direct and eye-catching, to be louder,” he said. Credit: General Mina

Chung says young Korean designers are increasingly exploring what makes them unique at a time when K-fashion is in high demand. “I think if Korean designers don’t try harder, our little reputation will soon disappear and this whole industry will fall behind. To encourage more experimental designs that Korea can represent, we need to tighten ourselves up and try to create more brands that (match) the international standards of designer brands.

Top photo caption: Miss G posing as a model for the collection.

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