Korean Fashion Is The Next Big Thing
The Debrief: And it’s not all about K-pop and gaming...
So you learnt the moves to Gangnam Style back in 2012 (a month well spent in our book) and got obsessed by allegedly miraculous Korean beauty products in 2014. Now it’s time to get serious about Korean fashion.
When LFW kicks off next Friday, the very first two shows on the schedule are by Korean-born designers J.JS Lee and Eudon Choi while Rejina Pyo will also be showcasing her super-sleek art-inspired designs. Meanwhile, models JiHye Park and Soo Joo Park are tipped to dominate the AW16 catwalks- and street style galleries- after walking for the likes of Stella McCartney, Erdem and Preen in previous seasons. Even Chanel is getting in on the Korea buzz; it was recently announced that King Karl will show his Cruise collection in the South Korea capital Seoul in May (incidentally, on the same day as the Met Gala in NYC).
To coincide with fashion month, the Korean Cultural Centre is hosting an exhibition called 'Style Sharing' (on until 4th April) which spotlights seven up-and-coming designers and examines how they’ve been influenced by both the Korean and London fashion scenes.
Curator Tory Turk has spent the past few months immersed in pulling together the exhibition so is well-versed on emerging Korean talent. 'There definitely isn’t one kind of designer' she explains, 'but they all have a really strong message in their own way.' As well as displaying the work of the seven designers, Turk has explored the mechanics of what is making Korean fashion so major right now. 'I discovered that Korea is so fast-paced that architects there are designing buildings which they don’t actually have the technology to construct yet!' she tells me.
From a fashion perspective, it seems like the talent emerging from Korea is also anticipating how we’ll be dressing into the future. It won’t be about trends exactly, but how we express ourselves through clothes and the way they work for us. 'Interestingly many of the designers we’re featuring did an MA in menswear' says Turk, 'but they’re now designing womenswear so there’s that gender blurring which is quite innovative.'
So what are the big names you need to know? Turk is tipping Rokh Hwang’s new venture rokh for big success. 'The rokh label is so captivating. His designs are really sleek and muted, like new age ready-to-wear,' she describes. Having worked previously at Celine, Louis Vuitton and Chloe, his work is just the kind of modern tailoring we should all be saving up for.
At the opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum is DJ, illustrator, TV presenter and stylist- as well as designer! -Ha Sang Beg. His work has been heavily influenced by the rather brilliant combination of K-Pop, couture and street style. 'The moment you see his work, you will want to take a picture' sums up Turk of his sportswear mixed with rainbow colours vibe.
LFW designer Rejina Pyo tips Kye as must-add-to-your wardrobe brand; 'Rihanna is already a huge fan and loads of Korean stars love her' says Pyo. Check out RiRi’s cobalt fuzzy coat and you’re guaranteed to be smitten too. Then there’s Hyein Seo who has shown her irreverent, slogan-emblazoned designs as part of the ultra cool V-Files show in New York.
Besides the fashion, Pyo reckons we’ll all be going mad for delicious (but super healthy) Korean food before long. She’s anticipating that wave of the trend by writing a cookbook. So be sure to complement your future-gazing Korean fashion investments with a new take on kimchi.
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