Seoul Fashion Week: A Look at the Creative Future of Korean Designers

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Seoul Fashion Week: A Look at 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 generating insatiable interest. Now South Korea is also looking to take its fashion industry to the next level.

Korean culture has spread like wildfire around the world in recent years, with the hugely successful K-pop, K-film, and K-beauty sectors generating insatiable interest. Now South Korea is also looking to take its fashion industry to the next level.

The movement is led by Seoul Fashion Week (SFW), which the city government says aims to be “the world’s fifth big fashion week” after the Big Four of New York, London, Milan and Paris.

The schedule of events ending on Wednesday highlighted local talent through a combination of live screenings and some of the first in-person screenings since 2019. ambassador”, and four designers presented their collections in Paris during Paris Fashion Week earlier this month – part of an effort to get more international attention and buyers.

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

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

The Seoul Crafts Museum held solo exhibitions.

The Seoul Crafts Museum held solo exhibitions. Credit: Justin Sheen/Getty Images

C-ZANN ​​E is a brand inspired by minimalism and traditional Korean hanbok.  On the catwalk, models wore luxurious headdresses.

C-ZANN ​​E is a brand inspired by minimalism and traditional Korean hanbok. On the catwalk, models wore luxurious headdresses. Credit: Justin Sheen/Getty Images

The BIG PARK AW 2022 collection included floral prints inspired by camellia flowers.

The BIG PARK AW 2022 collection included floral prints inspired by camellia flowers. Credit: BIG PARK

New formats unleash creativity

Due to Covid-19, most brands were once again showcasing virtually, filming their creations for Fall/Winter 2022 with varying approaches – some to the point of distraction, and others in a way that almost seemed superior to physical runway shows.

Seokwun Yoon, whose eponymous label’s new collection focuses on “future species, AI robots and extraterrestrial beings,” chose the architecturally impressive Busan Cinema Center as its backdrop. Models dressed in colorful robes and puffy outerwear stood out from the building’s clean, drab outdoor seating aesthetic. Yoon said that while he missed the energy of the physical shows, the format allowed him to focus on certain clothing details.
SEOKWOON YOON modeled in this look with patterns based on a combination of industrial materials and colors.

SEOKWOON YOON modeled in this look with patterns based on a combination of industrial materials and colors. Credit: Seokwun Yoon

Yoon said that he believes young Korean designers have great potential in the global fashion industry. "They have their own process and ideas." This sculptural work was inspired by concrete quadrupeds from Busan Beach.

Yoon said that he believes young Korean designers have great potential in the global fashion industry. “They have their own process and ideas.” This sculptural work was inspired by concrete quadrupeds from Busan Beach. Credit: Seokwun Yoon

Elsewhere an emerging label Comspace Not Enof Words’ the runway appeared as a retro music video with energetic choreography, Studio Hanach The show began with a melodic piano composition and dark lighting, highlighting the collection’s focus on art and abstraction.
Models dance in the autumn-winter show COMSPACE NOT ENOF WORDS.

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

The COMESPACE NOT ENOF WORDS collection consists of monochrome looks.

The COMESPACE NOT ENOF WORDS collection consists of monochrome looks. Credit: COMPASS NOT ENO WORDS

The theories of the artists Wassily Kandinsky and Hilma af Klint influenced the approach of HANACHA STUDIO this season.

The theories of the artists Wassily Kandinsky and Hilma af Klint influenced the approach of HANACHA STUDIO this season. Credit: HANACHA STUDIO

The Miss Gee collection has been shown both outdoors and indoors.

The Miss Gee collection has been shown both outdoors and indoors. Credit: Justin Sheen/Getty Images

Korean fashion on the world stage

Hyejeong Cho, director of Seoul Fashion Week, said interest in Korean fashion is growing and that the city government is “actively supporting Korea’s top designers and brands to enter the European market.” For the first time, four Korean designers, including Enk and Doukan, represented SFW at Paris Fashion Week, a time when the world’s most important buyers and influential editors flock to the fashion capital.

DOUCAN showed at the Palais Brongniart in Paris.

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

Choi said his approach is to create clothes that make you feel like you are. "happy the moment you put them on."

Choi said his approach is to create clothes that make you feel “happy the moment you put them on.” Credit: DUKAN

At the historic Brongniart Palace, Dukan wove floral and geometric tie-dye prints, mostly in the red, blue and white colors of the Korean flag, into beautiful silhouettes—some more curved, others more structured—in a highly wearable collection that paid homage to Seoul. “Seoul is the city of the night,” said the label’s creative director Jung-Hoon Choi. “I wanted to show the gorgeous yet dynamic energy of this collection.”

Eenk, another brand that debuted in Paris, presented a collection inspired by 1980s fashion editorials, with strong vintage pieces that simultaneously evoke glamor and power. “Identity (of the brand) is about finding a balance of classic yet unique, familiar yet modern and new at the same time,” said Eenk designer Hemy Lee.

EENK designer Hemy Lee said the growing popularity of K-culture around the world has given designers more confidence.

EENK designer Hemy Lee said the growing popularity of K-culture around the world has given designers more confidence. Credit: EENC

"More brands in South Korea now have their own brand identity, and consumers are also guided by their tastes and sensibilities rather than just following trends.  I think this is the beginning of creating a unique history and culture for Seoul." Lee said.

“Now, more and more brands in South Korea have their own brand identity, and consumers are also guided by their tastes and feelings, rather than just following trends. I think this is the beginning of creating a unique history and culture for Seoul,” Lee said. Credit: EENC

Taking an identity, taking risks

seoul brand Painters was one of the labels showcasing experimental creations. Founder Won Jeon said that young designers often chase new trends in their ready-to-wear collections to grow their business. With a focus on high fashion, Vaughn has included handcrafted sculptural pieces among commercial outfits in his new collection. One such look, a voluminous hand-sewn dress made of black waste fabric from the designer’s atelier, was worn by a model posing in a steel “frame”. Other concept pieces that appeared in the frame reflected a desire to “express how (young designers) can do more,” Vaughn explained.

“I want to convey my culture through my collection. I think it should reflect where I live and what I work on.”

The Painters Fall-Winter collection combines concept with ready-to-wear.

The Painters Fall-Winter collection combines concept with ready-to-wear. Credit: Painters

A model poses in one of Painters' dresses, made entirely from dead material.

A model poses in one of Painters’ dresses, made entirely from dead material. Credit: Painters

Mina Chang At the same time, the ethereal Fall-Winter 2022 collection brought together East Asian artistic concepts of “light and shadow,” which she says “describe an aesthetic that is a combination of simplicity and fullness.” Soft, flowing materials contrast with structure and vibrant colors. In one look, a model was seen draped in various fabrics, with a silhouette inspired by an ancient Chinese landscape.
"The mountains in the painting have bold, energetic lines that can be translated into a three-dimensional silhouette." Chang said, adding that layering the silhouette with fabric creates more drama.

“The mountains in the painting have bold, energetic lines that can be translated into a three-dimensional silhouette,” Chang said, adding that layering the silhouette with fabric creates more drama. Credit: MINA CHANG

"I wanted one part of the collection to be very bold but simple, and the other part to be more direct and attention grabbing, louder," she 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, louder,” she said. Credit: MINA CHANG

Chang said young Korean designers are increasingly looking for what makes them unique at a time when K-fashion is in high demand. “I think if Korean designers don’t try their best, what little notoriety we have will disappear very soon and this whole industry will back down. more brands that can (meet) the international standard of designer brands.”

Top image caption: A model poses for the Miss Gee collection.

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