Fashion Show Coverage

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: KAAL E.SUKTAE

SFW S/S 2015: KAAL E.SUKTAE

What distinguishes humans from animals is that we are able to think critically and analytically. Such freedom of intelligence is what allows us to have our own interpretation of various elements of life- or heaven, in this case: Kaal’s latest offering is a carefully assembled assortment of his depiction of Seraphim, six-winged angels that appear in the Book of Isaiah. Developed around his signature ‘structural avant-garde’ concept, these particular angels make the most futuristic and mysterious sacred beings ever, especially when teamed up with a beatboxer, Terry Im, better known as KRNFX as the finalist of Canada’s Got Talent. As if the collection itself wasn’t intense enough, the show got even more dramatic towards the end when the audience got to meet the beatboxer in person who turned out to be the sole source of background music from beginning to the end.

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Photos by Justin Shin, fashion photographer in Seoul, Korea

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: Yohanix

SFW S/S 2015: YOHANIX

Hailing from Shanghai, Yohan Kim’s first show at Seoul Fashion Week was full of things that were unconventional, new and shiny. Educated and trained in London, Kim is an expert leather handler and a celebrity dresser who sets no limits when it comes to experimenting, which can be seen in his innovative approaches boldly incorporating variety of materials and fabrics, and use of heavy details, layers, strong structure and geometric shapes.

SFW S/S 2015: YOHANIX

Luxurious fabrics and delicate details appear as sun, moon and clock embroidery and prints under the “eraser” theme this season to illustrate the fact that even the most precious memories become just an abstract thought as time passes.

SFW S/S 2015: YOHANIX

 Timeless, youthful luxury is what Kim goes after, which should be enough of a reason to keep our eyes peeled for his future collections.

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Photo by Justin Shin, fashion photographer in Seoul, Korea

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: SOULPOT STUDIO

SFW S/S 2015: SOULPOT STUDIO

A continuation of her last collection which revolved around the process and residuals of industrialization of Seoul, Su Jinn Kim’s Soulpot Studio attempts to once again generate interest, inspire and spur discussion about the multidimensional character of civilization. This double-edged sword where social elements such as dynamism, culture, capitalism coexist is illustrated through a use of soft construction and modern tailoring, through which a sense of freedom and connection is created. What makes the collection’s easy light-weight, fluid silhouette possible is perhaps  faint yet definitive sportswear influence along with clean, modern palette, sophisticated naturals, and dramatic hints of color which vary from pale neon to charcoal.

Modern-day Seoul, its past and future, the beauty and the pain of it all- are undoubtedly what makes the city so vibrant and dynamic; and as residents of this wonderful place, it is our job to remain hopeful while embracing differences and hardships. After all, urban development is still actively in progress here, and and will be that way because without changes, Seoul wouldn’t be what it is today.

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Photos by Justin Shin, Fashion Photographer Seoul Korea

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: MUNSOO KWON

SFW S/S 2015: MUNSOO KWON

Dropped crotch and super tight trousers and shorts are not necessarily something I’d dress my boyfriends in; however if you’ve got the height and the legs to pull them off, look no further. These are just a few of Munsoo Kwon’s specialties, who has quickly risen to a celebrity designer status in a few years he’s been showing at Seoul Fashion Week.

SFW S/S 2015: MUNSOO KWON

Inspired by a kite flying over Han River, Kwon’s spring collection is a visual reflection of a collective state of things found at the river on a typical day in Seoul.

It’s the direly needed 15 minute walk at a park; it’s a family time on a sunny saturday; it’s the trees and flowers blooming in a concrete jungle; it’s where hustle and bustle meets tranquility.

Even in the most hectic moments, there needs to be a time to breathe, to unwind and reflect. This collection is about a place where people go to do just that: a place of rest, to recharge and be inspired.

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Photos by Justin Shin, fashion Photographer Seoul Korea

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: Kwak Hyunjoo Collection

SFW S/S 2015: Kwak Hyunjoo Collection

It’s impossible to please everyone especially when using your “style” as a choice of weapon, which pretty much is a reflection of yourself. A fashion show, in a way, is like showing yourself to people- and expecting them to like you back. But we know quite well that doesn’t happen all that often.

Kwak Hyunjoo is a brand well-known for dressing Korean pop stars and celebrities, as well as the designer being a regular on various TV programs. While her style isn’t exactly my cup of tea, there’s no question that popular girl groups Sistar and Kara look best in her funky numbers. Perhaps it’s a Korean thing, but this one-dimensional approach to conceptualization and execution of it is starting to look just a bit underachieved in a lackadaisical manner of sort- which probably wasn’t intentional, because after all, my impression of Kwak is that of an assiduous, skilled designer who is a quick thinker and knows her strengths. But to many, she will be better known as a businesswoman than a fashion designer who reads trends well and knows what consumers want, which most likely is good enough of a reason to give her credit for success.

Regardless, I remain decidedly unmoved and untouched toward the theme, Tears Flow. Maybe it’s the illustration of a faucet or unnecessarily frequent encounters with her logo throughout the collection- but nothing beats the crystal on the model’s left cheek, because you know, “tears.”

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Photos by Justin Shin, fashion photographer Seoul Korea

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: LEIGH

SFW S/S 2015: LEIGH

It’s a frequently discussed topic in the Korean fashion industry: Korean Menswear is a tad bit better than womenswear, but there aren’t enough good male models. It’s become something of a trend here for male models to end up on TV, as easily can be seen with the mega popular (who, by the way, were excellent models even 2-3 years ago) Woobin Kim and Jongsuk Lee. Photographers complain that just when they are about to become “great” models, they leave the scene to become movie stars, and same sentiment can be felt with designers as well. Why so, one may ask, although it really isn’t difficult to conclude: there’s more money and opportunity in the celebrity world, and most important, you are just treated better here, unlike elsewhere in the world where models can actually have a long-lasting career. In Korea, where the younger and prettier rule, modeling is a short term job that acts as a stepping stone to take you somewhere higher in a few years. It’s a naturally and sadly transitory career (not even sure if it’s appropriate to call it that) but no one really seems to care anyway, because what everyone wants is, most of the times, the same: fame and money. It is uncertain since when celebrities became the king here, perhaps it’s the culture where the untouchably wealthy (think Samsung) are considered superior than the rest (although that may be changing due to a few of the “superior” folks causing trouble). A voluntarily one dimensional analysis says that  becoming a celebrity is actually a possible feat where as becoming Samsung family is almost impossible unless you marry one of them. On the other hand, if you can earn both money and fame doing what you love, why not give it a try, right? But is modeling easier than singing, or acting? How about compared to designing clothes? Why does it take more effort, training and sometimes time for designers to get what they want when some of these models get everything they want within a relatively short amount of time simply using what they were born with (body & face) and doing what every one of us do on a daily basis (walking and dressing)? It’s not that I’m unimpressed with Leigh’s collection, although I would have liked something more than a word on it: Hyper… hmm.. mmm? Mind seems to be everywhere today, perhaps it’s the coffee and half-baked Japanese kasutera that so happily offered themselves to me on this painfully cold Saturday afternoon.

Grid lines and protruded outlines make the collection, while the true star, inevitably, is Sungjin Park. I’m not sure if this is a good thing for the designer, but yes, you got my attention, and you know what, it’s clear why he’s a top model now that he’s walked a few shows with his fellow Korean models after he’s made it overseas. You either have it or don’t, although living in the digital world connected by this great tool called social media can be a game changer. And this isn’t exclusive to modeling.

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Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: Kimdongsoon ultimo

SFW S/S 2015: Kimdongsoon ultimo

Is it a good thing if a designer’s style changes so much that you can’t recognize it? I wish there was an answer to this, as there was a number of shows at Seoul Fashion Week that did just that. Kim Dong Soon was one that which was pleasantly surprising but at the same time completely threw me off because it had gotten so young since the last time I had seen it. Someone tell me what happened the past six months, because I’m cautiously suspecting that her daughter, who is also a designer, joined the team. Whichever the case, for someone who has been designing for almost 40 years and is considered one of top influencers of Korean fashion, Kim’s latest collection is an encouraging reminder that it is to possible to give an old brand a face lift, and that it is okay to be bold and get out of the box sometimes.

SFW S/S 2015: Kimdongsoon ultimo

Using “travel” as a theme, humorous yet delicate incorporation of Korean elements was seen throughout, such as this necklace that looked a dried red pepper which is ground to make chili powder that’s used virtually in every kind of Korean food.

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or this jacket that looks like it belongs in grandma’s storage- not because it looks vintage but the fabric looks like the one that is used to store rice. If you are doubtful, take a look at this.

SFW S/S 2015: Kimdongsoon ultimo SFW S/S 2015: Kimdongsoon ultimo

All in all, it’s a good mix of old and new done in highest quality that can only come from years of experience and expertise. New and young designers may be full of ideas but there’s definitely a few many lack: quality, technique, execution, and often, passion and knowledge. As with other industries, there’s knowledge gained in school, and there’s one that can only be gained through professional experience which often turns out to be more crucial at times.

SFW S/S 2015: Kimdongsoon ultimo

On that note, perhaps the most ideal business model is partnership of a seasoned veteran designer with necessary skills and experience and a young one with incessant ideas and passion both working towards a same vision. And with that, I’m secretly hoping that Kim Dong Soon and Jain Song become one- one big, giant, great brand that will not only continue Kim’s legacy but ultimately go overseas to compete on a global level.

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Photo by Justin Shin, Fashion photographer Seoul Korea

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: GROUNDWAVE

SFW S/S 2015: GROUNDWAVE

So let me tell you this much: Kim Sunho’s Groundwave was shown not only on the first day of Seoul Fashion Week which is reserved for menswear, but when Soojoo was sent down the runway, I had to double-check the schedule to see if I was in a wrong show.

SFW S/S 2015: GROUNDWAVE

This was my third time seeing Groundwave, but the first time seeing his womenswear collection. Honestly, I was disturbingly unprepared for it especially because my mind was anticipating another set of awesome menswear with a bit of Korea in it (which is what Kim is known for).

SFW S/S 2015: GROUNDWAVE

This is not to say that it sucked, but you know, it took some time for me to figure things out, which became sadly more challenging thanks to the background music which sounded like a mishmash of rap and narration coming from a sleepy woman with a bad case of insomnia counting jumping sheep. It was a cool show nevertheless- cool in a very refreshing, Korean way. Not sure how much more descriptive I can get with this. I apologize, hence digress.

SFW S/S 2015: GROUNDWAVE

So apparently, this was a strategized move, as his intention was to “blur the borders between men and women.” Although, it would have been nice to hear what the reason was, or how the theme came about, but you know, it is what it is.

SFW S/S 2015: GROUNDWAVE

I guess a more pressing question here is, whether these are menswear or womenswear or menswear meant for both genders, or unisex. If so, what sizes do they come in?

SFW S/S 2015: GROUNDWAVE

But more than anything, someone get them out of bed already. It’s 8:30 in the evening.

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Justin Shin, fashion photographer Seoul Korea

New York Fashion Week Spring 2015: Rebecca Minkoff

NYFW S/S 2015: Rebecca Minkoff

What makes Rebecca Minkoff’s S/S ’15 collection especially intriguing isn’t just this hat that looks like it’s melting or the occasional appearance of fringe, but the fact that it was inspired by one of the greatest fashion photographers, Deborah Turbeville.

NYFW S/S 2015: Rebecca Minkoff

For those unfamiliar, Turbeville is one who transformed the fashion photography industry. What was merely pictures of people in stylish clothes were turned into art with new perspectives, angles, and other artistic techniques that were normally not used in photography. She appreciated the natural process of aging and destruction of images however small or large they were; she also let the subjects be themselves instead of focusing on clothes themselves, which is what made her work more fine art than commercial. Result was an entirely new world of fashion photography which has had a huge influence ever since her debut in the 70′s. Turbeville’s work has soul, and for that, it’s more than photography. It’s an intimate moment drawn from interactions between humans and clothes captured at the highest point.

NYFW S/S 2015: Rebecca Minkoff

Turbeville’s unique approach to subjects is reinterpreted in this collection through feminine, breezy dresses in soft pastels complemented with romantic silhouettes.

NYFW S/S 2015: Rebecca Minkoff

Among the sea of eye catching accessories which were a crucial part of the collection, indisputable standout was the hat, which we can all appreciate as women who seek both style and functionality. Because after all, who doesn’t want freedom from sunblock?

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And this pale pastel blue (or call it lavender) is so handsome looking next to that bright red. A must-try combination for the coming season.

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This, I need. Anything in mint is coverable for spring but a one-shoulder-anything is looking mighty trendy at the moment.

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Jumpsuit is cooler (literally, too) with built-in A/C.

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Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: 87MM

SFW S/S 2015: 87mm

Truth be told, there is no such thing as a career for models. Having been in the fashion industry for a bit now, I’ve learned that modeling is more of a seasonal, temporary job that should serve as a stepping stone for something else that you really want to do with your life later on. This is especially true for male models in Korea, whose options are quite limited: you either make it big as an actor when your modeling career is approaching the end (i.e. Kimwoobin, Chaseungwon, Leejongsuk) or become a successful businessman, both of which happen less frequently than they should.

SFW S/S 2015: 87mm

Top Korean male model, Kimwonjoong, chose the latter, launching an online shop “87mm” in 2011 with his fellow model friend, ParkJiwoon, leveraging their fame as celebrity models.

Three years later came a collection under the same name which signifies the year the two models were born. (In Korea, it’s common to see people becoming friends based on the year they were born.)

SFW S/S 2015: 87mm

As there’s no background information available on these two models-turned-designers, I’m going to cautiously assume they haven’t necessarily had training in fashion design.

SFW S/S 2015: 87mm

Now, I don’t mean to contradict myself (I did mention in “Oudifu” post that the designer did not go to fashion school, etc) but when you’ve had plenty of experience with designer clothes and built connections in the industry and most importantly have achieved “top” status in a relevant category, it’s only natural to venture out into another field especially when your time as a model is running out. It’s a model’s job to quickly figure out what he likes to do and what he’s good at to come up with a new goal or dream by leveraging fame, connections and experience gained through modeling. Yes, we are talking business here.

SFW S/S 2015: 87mm

While it may look like a bunch of ideas at the moment, with enough experience and knowledge, it will only get better. If anything, branding is definitely there which makes marketing so much easier for 87mm. Marketing is one area many Korean fashion designers struggle with, and the bad news is, no matter how good your stuff is, if nobody knows about it, there is just no way it will sell. On the other hand, if people know about your brand and consider it “cool” regardless of how good or bad the quality or design is, it’s more likely to sell. Call it unfair, but that’s life- I mean, business.

SFW S/S 2015: 87mm

Wearability, comfort and oversize seem to be keywords for the debut collection, which became all the more desirable when Kimwonjoong came into the picture. It’s a funny thing. A good looking man, that really is all you need to sell… Oh the naiveté.

SFW S/S 2015: 87mm

Each look seemed to be trying to justify the fact that it was created by models, as if these were the stuff Kim and Park would be rocking on their off-duty days.

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Womenswear were particularly intriguing, as they literally looked like girls wearing guys’ things. As much as I’m a fan of menswear-inspired womenswear, I’m still undecided whether I like this direct approach.

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The ideas are there. Execution, not so much. but they should be praised for their courage for entering an industry that can be intimidating (Most of the designers showing during Seoul Fashion Week are graduates of top fashion schools). This isn’t the first time models have attempted fashion design in Korea (i.e. Rubina) but it’s undoubtedly a revolutionary move. Nevertheless, it’s nice to know that at such a young age, the duo realize that it is only through challenges that one can grow, and from my personal experience with them- I have faith that they will succeed whichever route they end up taking, because nothing beats hard work and humility after all.

SFW S/S 2015: 87mm

On that note, fight on, guys.

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Let’s make better shoes next time though… not digging dancing toes. yeah?

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Just let me have this ensemble. Navy and black are the obvious yet most overlooked match that weirdly look so awesome together.

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And we thought Rag & Bone ended the V-neck game.

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Photos by Justin Shin, Fashion Photographer Seoul Korea