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Hallyu buoys Korean fashion

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Published : 2014-03-27 20:59
Updated : 2014-03-28 18:17

Hundreds of Chinese fans were in a frenzy at the opening of Seoul Fashion Week last Friday, when K-pop boy group EXO took the catwalk presenting the creations of young Korean designers. 

The popularity of K-pop has put a spotlight on the Korean fashion industry event, launched in 2000, and designers as well. Now, Seoul Fashion Week is one of the most anticipated fashion shows in Asia.

“K-pop and Korean TV dramas play an important role in attracting attention to Korean fashion,” said Griffin Chan, a senior buyer from Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong. He is among 125 foreign buyers, including 82 from mainland China and Hong Kong, who attended the show. 

His colleague Tony Lee added what celebrities wear on TV dramas fans interest in Korean fashion. 

“Fans go wild about what Korean star actors and actresses wear on TV dramas. It’s a large factor attracting attention to Korean fashion,” Lee, merchandizing manager of the company, said.

Members of the K-pop boy group EXO pose with models at the opening show for Seoul Fashion Week on March 21. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)
Lee also noted the creativity and attention to detail distinguishes Korean fashion from others. 

“Korean fashion is unique. There’s something we can’t find in other Asian countries, or even in European collections,” he said.

Seoul Fashion Week is considered the second-most influential show in Asia after Tokyo Fashion Week, followed by Hong Kong and Shanghai. Some designer brands that present regular collections at Seoul Fashion Week have entered major multi-fashion brand shops in Asia and beyond.

Menswear brands Cy Choi, Juun.J and Songzio are featured in the MC2 showroom in Paris. S Style Group in Kuwait imports Korean designers’ brands such as Lie Sang Bong, Doii, Big Park and Kumann Yoo Hye-jin. Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong showcases Steve J and Yoni P, pushButton, ARCHE and Kosoyoung.  

The Seoul Design Foundation, one of the organizers of the fashion week, has pledged to help designers enter Asian fashion markets.

“The Korean Wave, Hallyu, is driving the popularity of not just music, but also fashion. Seoul Fashion Week will give further momentum to designers eying the Asian market, among others, and we also will back them up,” said Baek Jong-won, CEO of the foundation. 

As strong features of Korean fashion, buyers cited creative details and winter outerwear. 

For the 2014 fall and winter collections, designers presented nicely tailored coats and jackets that featured combinations of different fabrics and details. 

Steve J and Yoni P, for one, displayed their signature lace, see-through trench coat with flower motifs. The duo designers’ brand offered a unique take on pinstripes and military-style jackets. The conventional expressions were mixed with corset motifs, lace and flower patterns, which added fun and wit to their look. 

Johnny Hates Jazz showed a variety of winter outerwear with a crescent detail inspired by the Vikings. Its long gray-black coats were accented with gold crescent accessories on the lapels and sleeves. Other outerwear such as a navy belted trench coat and a gray padded jacket were elevated with hand-drawn stripes on the fabric or crescent accessories on sleeves. 

Kaal E. Suktae presented a fresh perspective on the 1990s grunge style through black-and-white structured overcoats with fringe details on the hemlines or sleeves. 

Although womenswear shows command the center stage at the fashion week, it is the menswear collections that attract the most favorable responses from foreign buyers and the press every season. 

“Menswear designers are talented. Their designs are unique and creative,” said Nathalie Cazeaud Hillaire of MC2 showroom in Paris. 

Griffin Chan of Harvey Nichols Hong Kong lauded the witty presentation of Moonsoo Kwon, who utilized a key and a door as symbols of hope, and Cy Choi’s attentiveness to details in his menswear collection, which set it apart from other designers’ creations. 

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)

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