Best Korean Designers to Watch For!
Jan 21, 2015
South Korean fashion, both in terms of its street-style and its formal fashion industry, is swiftly being recognised by the world as something to take seriously. Gangnam Style exploded Korean popular culture or K-Pop culture into mass Western consciousness. As is often the case, fashion is a key part of that modern culture and South Korea now has a distinctive fashion sensibility which is characterised by an uber cool, edgy to avant garde look, comprised of interesting cuts, quality fabrication and artisanal attention to detail that makes it both wearable and unique. This nonchalantly cool fashion sense has been adopted by the fashion forward urbanites of South Korean cities and popularised by Korean pop celebs that have an almost cultish following. Coupled with a growing economy and social media, this has led to a dynamic, fashionable youth culture.
Like any part of the world, Korean fashion has changed over time and western clothing wasn’t even introduced to the country until the 1960’s. However, since then, the country has sought to evolve its own style and distinctive blueprint and now has a fashion industry that is set to influence other notable and more established fashion epicentres. There are numerous fashion events in South Korea including Seoul fashion week, which I predict is to become the fashion week in the future.
A bunch of very talented designers, aided by governmental support, have started coming out of South Korea and are now showing in other fashion centres such as Paris. The designers, from what I have seen, are not only technically excellent but benefit from South Korea's excellence in textile design and manufacture. I have mentioned five designers below that all have an interesting aesthetic and concept and exemplify the diversity in South Korean fashion design.
Coinonia is a designer label by Momoko Hashigami and Kiho Kim and was established in 2010. Coinonia describes itself as creating “conceptual contemporary” garments and accessories for the creative women of this world. In common with many other talented design houses around the world, one half of the duo, Momoko, graduated from Central St Martins in London. The clothes have an almost sport-luxe feel but the use of subtle detail, see through panels and beautiful fabrics, that glide across the skin, prevent it being just another collection of luxe, easy fit clothes.
The Studio K
The Studio K is a designer label/ brand established by Hyejin Hong in 2009. She spent three years developing her Spring/Summer 2012 collection before it was showcased at her runway show in 2012 during Seoul Fashion Week as part of the Generation Next showcase for emerging designers.
Studio K has a masculine look and a focus on tailoring, although with a typically South Korean twist and always a hint of juxtaposition of contrasting elements - often a tailored pair of pinstripes will be paired with an oversized sweater. There is a focus on geometric shapes and print, such as stripes and checks, and noticeable collars and front pockets. This was evident in their A/W14 collection (pictured above) but also carries forward in their S/S15 collection.
Fleamadonna is a Korean designer fashion label/brand which was established in March 2007.
The motto behind the brand is to design clothes for women who love themselves and have their own style and the brand name apparently translates to primadonna! In many ways, this is exactly what The Many Sides is all about; being inventive, trying something new and not being afraid to express yourself through your own personal style.
Since the designers humble beginnings in 2007, it now regularly has catwalk shows at Toyko fashion week and also shows its collections at Paris fashion week. The brand features a fun use of shape, for example making use of dropped waists and peplum, quirky print and interesting fabric, which makes it a favourite of Korean celebs.
Yohan Kim is the designer and owner of brand Yohanix which was first established in London in 2009 and is featured on this website. Yohan worked for Balmain and this is evident in the amount of care and craftsmanship that goes into all of his pieces. The Balmain influence is also evident in his working with leather and studs and his dark-edged, rock-chic aesthetic. His clothes are dangerous, sexy and cool and his jackets and outerwear from the most recent A/W collection were just beautiful to look at.
The brand’s signature is its focus on texture, fabric and complexity. It features metalwork, beading and embellishment along with detailed embroidery which is truly artisanal. His use of leather and hard textures along with softer, more tactile fabric lead to garments that are original, experimental and creative. Every piece is extremely intricate and detailed and he even makes a simple black leather skirt distinctive by texturising the leather on one side and adding studs on the other. Amazing!
Do Ho’s dream as a designer was to become an artist who could place her thoughts on the canvas without restriction. The Korean designer looks at people’s lives and takes the important moments within them to inspire her eye catching designs. Ho’s designs are extravagant, glamorous and make liberal use of embellishment, lavish metallic, pops of colour and contrasting luxury fabrics such as fur and silk. Simply gorgeous and don’t we all need a little bit of glamour in our wardrobe from time to time?
So there you have it......some amazing Korean designers which are all quite different from each other - from sporty to the utterly decadent.... but what they have in common is that they are unique and edgy in their own ways.
I have to say this fashion destination now has a prominent place in my heart and I am looking forward to seeing what else comes out of this exciting, emerging fashion hotspot!
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