The Korea Herald


Warmth, empathy, lightheartedness at 2023 fall-winter Seoul Fashion Week

Post-pandemic era time of reflection and inspiration for designers

By Kim Da-sol

Published : March 16, 2023 - 15:43

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A model walks down the runway for the Beyond Closet 2023 fall-winter collection. (Seoul Fashion Week) A model walks down the runway for the Beyond Closet 2023 fall-winter collection. (Seoul Fashion Week)

Seoul Fashion Week, one of Korea's most established fashion shows, is being held in-person for the second year in a row this week at an even bigger scale than last year. While many industry insiders believe that the industry is still recovering from the pandemic, designers are seeking new ideas and identities in the post-pandemic period.

After spending the last few years away from in-person shows – with busy backstages and catwalk audiences -- designers are seeking to express warmth and lightheartedness in their latest collections as a contrast to the gloomy reality.

“The post-COVID era is certainly an interesting time to navigate for a young designer,” designer Shim Jae-kyung of Acceptance Letter Studio told The Korea Herald.

“We strive to create pieces that evoke desire, warmth and closeness as opposed to aloofness, coolness and exclusivity. The uniqueness of Acceptance Letter Studio lies in our openness, our gender neutrality and our undeniable draw to daily use,” Shim said, who presented the fashion house's 2023 fall-winter collection on Thursday.

“We wish to deconstruct the wall between the creator and the audience through our show. From a place of full transparency, we want the audience to be able to see who designed and developed these pieces, directly on the runway,” said Shim.

LIE by Lee Chung-chung, the son of veteran fashion designer Lie Sang-bong, expressed the concept of "PLUR" -- Peace, Love, Unity, Respect -- using novel combinations of various elements with delicate details and patterns based on LIE's signature mix-and-match style.

As a person who is particularly interested in environmental and social issues, Lee said this season he wanted to focus on a message of love and warmth through his selection of textiles like cashmere and patterns.

“I was inspired by a photo where two people were hugging each other, and that gave me a sense of warmth and empathy. I believe that such elements are what we need the most in this era, following various recent incidents in our society such as what happened in Itaewon,” Lee told The Korea Herald, referring to the Oct. 29 crowd crush in the Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon last year.

To express this sense of togetherness, Lee collaborated with the Teddy Bear Museum in Jeju by incorporating Teddy Bears as well as Teddy Bear-inspired images, color schemes and moods to his latest collection.

A model walks down the catwalk for the LIE 2023 fall-winter collection. (Seoul Fashion Week) A model walks down the catwalk for the LIE 2023 fall-winter collection. (Seoul Fashion Week)

Designer Ko Tae-yong's 2023 fall-winter collection for Beyond Closet embodied lightheartedness under the theme “Every Piece of Art is a Serendipity.”

Models walked down the catwalk donning tailored coats with layers of fabrics and military jumpers with oversized pockets and lapels.

“After the pandemic, it was physically difficult for fashion buyers to come to Korea for business, but it looks like the industry is seeing about a 70 percent recovery to normal (in terms of buyers’ participation),” Lee of LIE said, adding that this year's fall-winter season is a pivotal period for designers and industry insiders to make a full recovery.

This year’s Seoul Fashion Week, which is in its 22nd year, will continue to showcase the 2023 fall-winter collections of 23 designers, seven rookie designers and one corporate brand at two catwalk venues at Dongdaemun Design Plaza until Sunday.