Seoul Fashion Week

Seoul Fashion Week coverage

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: MOOHONG

SFW S/S 2015: MOOHONG

A designer who is on a constant search for harmonies and collisions that emerge when contrasting elements are met, Moohong Kim of designer label, Moohong, seeks communication between fashion and humanity in his spring collection through a simultaneous study of ethnic codes and modern street aesthetics. With emphasis on cultural diversity, the collection is a daring attempt at effortless utility chic in variants of monotone that gets more interesting when movement is added. While it was undoubtedly one of the more refreshing shows, whether intended of not, spirit of Antwerp Six could be felt but with a Korean touch (Ann Demeulmeester and Haider Ackermann in particular come to mind; and Alexander Wang when boxers started showing up- but then again, that’s not a patented or copyrighted idea).

As Korean fashion continues to seek its place on the global fashion map, it seems imperative to first figure out what is quintessentially Korean; that which cannot be replaced, one that which makes it covetable by not just average consumers who seek lower priced fast fashion, but fashion forward consumers who are looking for a luxurious alternative that’s fresh, classic and timeless.

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Photo by Justin Shin, Fashion Photographer Seoul, Korea

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: Beyond Closet

SFW S/S 2015: Beyond Closet

The toughest collection to write about is one that is neither really bad or excellent. It’s those that fall somewhere between the dichotomy but so lukewarm that they basically elicit no emotions. Such tend to be ones that are designed by people who are more business-minded than art or design-driven.

SFW S/S 2015: Beyond Closet

Despite having reached the mega popular status among the young population in Korea with its “dog tee”, coined after the brand’s signature t-shirts and sweatshirt series with a dog embroidery which varies in type and size, Beyond Closet has yet to present a collection that truly captivates. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t quite figured out why anyone should pay extra for a sweatshirt that can easily be found at a much cheaper price just about anywhere in Seoul. It’s just a sweatshirt with a logo after all.

SFW S/S 2015: Beyond Closet

It’s somewhat obvious that the theme is “School Gang” with the props and styling signaling the setting; however the clothes themselves were more reminiscent of the 90′s Korean Pop style, especially with the slightly oversized fit, colorful stripes and embroideries which was definitely fun, but not as exciting as when the K-pop group Winner opened the show.

SFW S/S 2015: Beyond Closet

I guess the biggest issue here is that the collection was predictable, and with all the hypes and popularity the brand has garnered over the past year, people want to see something refreshing and creative from Ko, not the same old style especially the “Dog” thing being repeated the same way over and over- perhaps a reinterpretation of his signature style would be nice, like how Kye has successfully made the rope pattern her signature style. Also, it would have been great to see the “it girl” of the moment, Sungkyung Lee, in a school girl uniform-inspired outfit instead of the baggy pajama-like pieces that basically added nothing to the show- rather than making her stand out as the only female model, they made her look bigger and inconspicuous. Seriously, any of you digging what she’s wearing?

SFW S/S 2015: Beyond Closet

It’s awesome to see emerging K-pop stars on the runway, especially when they have over a million followings all around the world- it’s definitely a smart move from a marketing stand point; however, as a fan of Korean men’s fashion, I would like to see Ko become a bit more daring and bold in his designs, to experiment and innovate. On that note, expectations shall remain high for his next collection. As for now, what’s certain is that beyond closet, there are dog tees… and lots of them at that.

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Photos by Justin Shin, Fashion photographer seoul Korea

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: LOW CLASSIC

SFW S/S 2015: LOW CLASSIC

The meaning of “American Dream” may have changed over time but there’s no question that in its core lies hope for equal opportunity to achieve prosperity through hard work no matter the class, caste, religion, race, or ethnicity.

As someone who once dreamed of the “dream” and later became an active participant of the spirit, having an encounter with the phrase none other than at a fashion show came as both a surprise and nostalgia-inducing which resulted in heightened anticipation for what was to come, not that it wasn’t already high enough.

Despite this being their first time showing at Seoul Fashion Week, Low Classic has been a buyer and press favorite for many seasons now thanks to their classic, modern approach to femininity and minimalism. If Celine and Stella McCartney had an offspring, it would most likely look something like this, with a tiny bit of Acne and Jacquemus here and there.

A collection inspired by overalls which is often used to represent blue collar workers who work hard to achieve American Dream, head designer Lee Myung Sin presents yet another impressive collection full of pieces that shall end up in our wardrobe come spring. 

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Photo by Justin Shin, Fashion Photographer Seoul Korea

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.

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

Photo by Justin Shin, Fashion photographer Seoul Korea