On Sunday, Seoul Fashion Week wrapped its six-day run in the South Korean capital. In what seems like no time at all, Seoul has become a style mecca, the center of the enormously popular K-Pop universe and a fashion capital with serious credibility. After nearly a decade, with each season getting bigger and bigger and the street style increasingly colorful, it's easy to forget that this fashion week, like all others, is a showcase for designers, both emerging and established. Every year, South Korean designers are proving to be at the forefront of innovative design and creative experimentation. Here, a guide to the seven designers you must know from the Fall 2017 season of Seoul Fashion Week.
For his third collection, designer Younchan Chung took cues from his label’s very own name. “The Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky,” said Chung, 23. “I took inspiration from its movements throughout the universe.” Staying true to his signature beige color tone and futuristic aesthetic, the collection features sweaters, cropped vests, and wide leg pants with a unique zipper opening at the front hem, his favorite item in the collection. He uses materials such as leather, lightweight wools, and lustrous silks which help him achieve the modern, understated elegance for which he’s become known. And the Seoul-bred designer is moving quickly; he started his line immediately after graduating from fashion school, and after a mere two seasons, won the prestigious International Fashion Showcase designer award presented by the British Fashion Council. “Korean designers are influenced by their culture, such as K-pop and K beauty, so the brand has a contemporary feeling.”
Since launching his unisex streetwear brand in 2013, designer Yohan Kang, has built a reputation for oversized outerwear mixed with tailored ready-to-wear separates. It is a rather contradicting aesthetic, yet, somehow, it works. The inspiration for his Fall 2017 collection, entitled Puberty, was inspired by “Pink Floyd and everything I went through as a teenager,” Kang explained. It’s not surprising, then, that he riffs on the typical Korean schoolgirl uniform, deconstructing formal tweeds, and pairing polished, structured sweaters and blouses with lounge wear, like hoodies and sweatpants—his best sellers. In between seasons Kang takes commissions from South Korean celebrities, his most recently client being 25-year-old pop sensation Shinee-Key, for whom he designed the costumes for his Japanese concert tour.
In 2013, Hee Jin Kim, launched her namesake label, Kimmy J, as a monochrome womenswear line comprised of black, punk-inspired separates, such as mini-skirts and pleather tops. And while the materials and silhouettes have remained the same, the line has since grown to include menswear, and a livelier color palette. Her latest collection, entitled Dumpster, was inspired by a dream she had of “a young man carrying bags filled with garbage. It made me think about sin and the ugliness of self-beautification,” she said. The collection features funky, '90s-inspired brightly hued pieces, such as synthetic leather jackets, and oversized faux fur coats, in contrasting blacks, purples, and neon greens. The line is sold in stores across London, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Japan, and counts K Pop legends like Kim Hyuna as fans. “My inspiration comes from observing society, and every season I try to translate some philosophical idea in an entertaining way.”
When Noah Nam was brainstorming his Fall 2017 collection, he had an image of snow-covered houses in the back of his mind. “I had this very vague image of a family having a ski vacation,” the Seoul-born designer admitted. Thus, the chalet served as the motif around which his Alpine-inspired unisex collection was created. Using timeless materials such as cashmere and tweed, the collection features warm knitted scarves, cotton sweaters, flannel patterned suits, and cozy fleece sweatshirts; the latter for which he’s known. He says his ultimate objective for his line, which he introduced in 2012, is a simple one. “I wanted to introduce the ‘Brunch Look,’ which allows a person to look comfortable and stylish without trying while having brunch on a Sunday afternoon.”
After a decade of modeling, runway staples Wonjoong Kim and Jiwoon Park were disillusioned by the impractical, overly stylish clothing they would wear down the runway. “For us, the most important thing is not to be trendy,” explained Park, who founded 87mm with his longtime friend in 2015. “We wanted to make wearable clothing that could be worn year round.” This season they debuted sleek leather trenches and duffle bags, and experimented with herringbone and classic check fabrics. “We are inspired by new wave street culture, and the classic military look,” Park continued, referencing their army green, faux fur, and leopard coats. “We are most inspired by observing daily life.”
Jiyeun Won and Jooho Lee created their Fall 2017 collection as an ode to gender equality. “We wanted to convey that all sexes are equally precious and that no one should be discriminated against,” said Won on what inspired them to create their latest unisex collection of track pants, oversized blouses, heavily deconstructed denim, and asymmetrical jackets. The duo has built a reputation for their smart revamps of classic '90s styles and silhouettes, and this season is no different. “We mixed sport with youth culture, and put an emphasis on oversized,” Won added. Since 2012, the designers have regularly used materials like denim and nylon to construct low-slung pants and structured windbreakers, and have caught the attention of Taylor Swift and Rita Ora in the process. “The charm of denim is endless.”
Handsomely detailed, well-tailored suits have been the focus of Kim Seoryong’s menswear brand since he first launched in 1996. “I’m interested in playing with color and luxurious materials,” explained the Seoul-bred designer of his sleek ready-to-wear line. In Kim’s latest Fall 2017 collection, smooth leather and jacquard jackets accompany loose-fitting silk shirts and leather trousers. A former painter, Kim has a natural inclination for eye-catching color combinations, experimenting with rich earth tones, such as deep tobaccos, understated golds, and burnt reds. Unlike his peers, he has never dabbled with retailers, selling his wares right in his showroom through in-person appointments. “I prefer to sell my clothes like this so I can communicate directly, and get to know my customers.”
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