Gaining a foothold in the global fashion market is a formidable task, the industry already saturated with great talents from the traditional fashion powerhouses of Europe and the U.S.
Frustrated by years of trying to get the attention of international buyers and press through Seoul Fashion Week, the government a few years ago hit upon the idea of showcasing Korea’s fashion designers at the world’s major fashion capitals: If you won’t come to us, we will come to you.
Concept Korea, organized by the Culture Ministry ― Seoul City has its own program called Ten Souls of Seoul ― and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy runs a long-term project to promote fashion brands ―has been introducing both established designers and newbies in that most commercial of all fashion cities, New York, since 2010.
|Designers who will present a group show at Concept Korea s/s 2013 in New York on Friday, (from left) Kim Hong-bum, Son Jung-wan, Lie Sang-bong, Choi Bo-ko and Kathleen Kye, pose for a photo. (Culture Ministry)|
The sixth edition of Concept Korea takes place at The Stage, Lincoln Center on Friday as part of the New York Fashion Week, which is being held from Sept. 6-13 at various venues throughout the city.
The spring/summer 2013 presentation will be held under the theme of “Five Korean Traditional Colors” where five designers will present their interpretations of the five colors and their meanings: Red symbolizing fire; black for water; blue for tree; white for iron; yellow for earth.
Veteran designer Lie Sang-bong, showing for the fourth consecutive season with the Concept Korea Fashion Collective, takes inspiration from faded photographs and notes to create a collection titled “Nostalgia.”
Son Jung-wan has an appreciative fan base who snap up her girlish, feminine designs. For her third showing in New York, Son finds inspiration in Spanish artist Joan Miro, expressing dreamy and mysterious women under the bright glaring sunlight in a deep, lush forest. Daegu-based designer Choi Bo-ko also takes classical art and paintings as a starting for his first collection in New York.
Another newcomer to Concept Korea is Kim Hong-bum. The young designer who got his start at Dongdaemun, an area known for its cheap yet trendy offerings, with the brand CRES E. DIM takes on the challenge of showing in New York with a collection titled “Extreme Weather.” The modern collection promises to as dramatic as fast-changing weather and as dangerous as lightening and thunder.
Perseverance is key to success in any endeavor, no less in the fashion field where one needs to be “discovered.” When designer Kathleen Kye of KYE was eliminated from a fashion survival show in 2009, she is reported to have said, “You will regret having let me go.” And she has come back with a story to tell. The Central St. Martin’s graduate has titled her show “Nothing ever goes my way” ― ironic since her fashion career has taken off and she now has the chance to show off her talent in front of an international audience. Her witty take on the dark and heavy subjects of school violence and bullying are just as ironic.
Breaking into the fashion scene takes years of promotions and networking on top of pure talent. “We are trying to help Korean designers get their feet in the door. And that takes years of continued investment,” said Lee Hyun-ju at Korea Creative Content Agency, adding, “There is no overnight success.”
By Kim Hoo-ran (firstname.lastname@example.org)