South Korea Fashion Ascendance: Ten Labels You Need to Know
Alana Hadid in Beyond Closet Sweater
South Korea is taking America by cultural storm of late, stunning Hollywood with its Best Picture Oscar win for Parasite, and exporting K-Pop bands that make the girls scream louder than Bieber could even imagine. Even K-Beauty skin care is a thing.
Korean brands are also shaking up the fashion scene with an arsenal of fresh looks and new thinking, centered on a concept of creating playful and edgy, yet accessible looks that work well on a variety different body shapes…and naturally, coming to be known as K-Fashion. BlackBook was treated to a show of those very emerging designers during New York Fashion Week and, in short, we were blown away.
For the event, fashion trade pub The Daily Front Row and The Selects, a showroom in SoHo that represents rising Korean fashion talent, presented the Fall-Winter 2020 collections of ten emerging Korean labels, including Beyond Closet, BMUET(TE), Heohwan Simulation, Hidden Forest Market, KYE, LEYII, LIE, NOHANT, SWBD and WNDERKAMMER.
Here we present a quick but pithy overview of each line—but we strenuously recommend visiting The Select’s showroom at 62 Greene Street to see them all firsthand.
The brainchild of Tae Yong Ko, who first decided to pursue a career in design after attending Fashion Week. Inspired by a preppy, Americana aesthetic, it is informed by the designer’s belief that what people have in their closet accurately reflects their personality and lifestyle.
Incorporating unconventional construction and pattern cutting, up-and-comers Byungmun Seo and Jina Um launched BMUET(TE) to challenge preconceived notions of fashion via their singular creative direction, which they described to BlackBook as “weird but beautiful.” We found the collection to be modern, expressive and distinctive.
Educated in history, designer Hwan Heo blends aesthetics and craftsmanship from the past with his visions for the future in his London-based label HEOHWAN SIMULATION. The newest collection is an homage to luxury and casual wear from the ’80s and ’90s, but revived through a sustainable lens.
Husband and wife duo Ji Hyun Hwang and Sung Jun Cho launched their line Hidden Forest Market in 2012, to give women the freedom to tell their stories through their own personal style. The couple’s new collection translates the sweetness of summer nights into fashion with effortless sophistication.
Kathleen Kye offers designs that are deeply personal, often reflective of the current state of global, social and political affairs. She approaches this with a sense of humor, wit and optimism, offering women designs that are vibrant in mood, with a colorful palette, and elaborate detail.
A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Seunghee Lee has shown contemporary brand LEYII at Seoul Fashion Week since 2010. The collections are a celebration of femininity, emphasizing the beauty of the female form with minimalist structural lines and meticulous, delicate draping.
Another Central Saint Martin’s graduate, Chung Chung Lee masterfully blends geometric patterns, sculptural shapes, bold color, and playful textures, championing female individuality, expression, emotion and strength—qualities central to the brand DNA in LIE.
Giving his followers a new way to look at unisex essentials, Noah Nam incorporates Parisian elements of modernity and elegance in everyday garments, while maintaining focus on distinctive design, enduring style, and uncompromising quality.
SWBD, or Sewing Boundaries, is a unisex brand created by Dong Ho Ha, who is not one to shy away from experimentation. As each collection’s design direction continues to evolve, Ha aims to use fashion to bridge the gap between gender and generation.
A play on the classic “wunderkammer,” or cabinet of curiosities, WNDERKAMMER is designer Hye Young Shin’s own unique collection of objects which hold special meaning for her and serve as a source of inspiration. Crafted in natural and eco-friendly fabrics, designs are geared toward the needs of the modern woman—versatile, pragmatic and sophisticated.