The Korea Herald


[Weekender] One coat that conquered street fashion in South Korea

South Koreans’ craze for long padded coats has its foundations in global high fashion, yet is unique

By Lee Sun-young

Published : Dec. 1, 2017 - 16:55

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Whether you’ve noticed it or not, long padded coats are all the rage in South Korea.

PyeongChang Winter Olympics' official down jackets flew off the shelves, with people lining up overnight in front of stores to get hold of the limited item.

School commute scenes nowadays can’t be described without mentioning a new quasi-uniform look, complete with black, hooded, knee-length padded jackets. Despite the striking uniformity, the coats are not a uniform. They are the season’s latest ‘it’ item among teenagers.

Long padded coats on display at a department store in Seoul (Yonhap) Long padded coats on display at a department store in Seoul (Yonhap)

Now, let’s ask the question. Why are they so popular?

“It’s practical, keeps you warm, and people think it’s trendy. Then why not?” says Park Bo-ra, an office worker in 30s and owner of a hip-length down jacket, now seriously considering buying a longer one that conforms to the latest trend.

To be sure, padded jackets have been around for a while. To many, it is even considered a winter essential, something that you need for a quick run to the nearby supermarket, to walk your dog or for when the weather is just so freezing cold.

Fashion experts see the newfound interest in these not-so-fancy performance wear as a fashion statement item as being linked to the “normcore” fashion trend globally.

“Long padded down jackets were in high fashion recently. There were many showcased at the catwalk in Seoul Fashion Week, too” Jung Yoon-gi, a celebrity stylist, told a local radio station.

While fashion experts interpret it as a continuation of normcore, others say the incredible popularity of the identical-looking coats have social overtones of people here finding comfort in uniformity rather than individuality.

Youn Mi-young, a mom of two teenage students, bought the coats for her children, despite their hefty price tags, because she did not want her children to be singled out by classmates and wanted them to blend in.

“Nowadays, it has become easier to share what they are wearing, or what they’d like to wear through the messaging app KakaoTalk.” Youn said. 

By Lee Sun-young (