While Milan, Paris, Tokyo, and New York have largely dominated the fashion market with their perpetual creativity and a keen eye for the newly emerging fashions, a new player has begun to rise to prominence. The fashion trends coming out of Seoul, the capital of Asia’s newest most influential country, South Korea, are turning the heads of the fashion world.
As with the rise of the musical subgenre of K-Pop, Korean fashion has carved out its own place and planted its flag among the many fashion market sources. Not fearful of innovation, Korean fashion has taken certain elements of the culture in the far East and fused it with elements of the West brought in by a large number of travelers to the country’s shores over the last several years. As they have with music, Koreans grew to enjoy and adapted to parts of Western culture, and incorporated it into their fashion with their own unique spin.
The byproduct of these influences turned the market of Korean streetwear brands into Seoul’s vastly noticed global fashion trend, one that is hard to overlook. So who are the current Korean streetwear brands to watch?
Kirin was started by a Berlin-based DJ and fashion icon, Peggy Gou, whose fashion experimentation garnered her some attention from the fashion powerhouse New Guards Group. They approached Gou about launching a line of women’s streetwear after performing at an Off White event. Kirin (translated to giraffe in Gou’s native Korean), is a general reflection of Gou’s unique style. The brand inspired confidence with their color-blocked, patterned, easily paired two-piece sets, carries a lot of mythological reflections of Korean culture as well as club graphics that illustrate Gou’s love for the nightlife.
Pushbutton also originated from a musical background, based on the designs of a once wanna-be fashion student, Seung Gun Park, who quickly dropped the chase for that dream to become a full-time singer. But midway through his second album, he was drawn back into the fashion world, at which point he started the PushButton initiative in 2010. Park was inspired by the 70s and the 90s, so he used his fashion medium to fuse the two styles, and they are still reflected in his streetwear to this day. His keen sense for showing the diametrically contrasting styles of men’s and women’s fashion is one of PushButton’s signature stylistic trademarks. The basis of his designs was to take clothes down to their bare elements (known to some as deconstructed fashion) and reimagine them into a juxtaposed motif, combining eras, genders, and varying styles into uniquely tailored outfits.
Both Woo Joong Kim and Jiwon Park, the designers behind the 87MM Korean streetwear brand were born in 1987, contributing that particular number to the name. With many popular pieces within their brand, especially among Korean youths, the brand’s goal is to create a clean, minimalistic esthetic, with a call back to the 80s style which is tailored around a sleek, clean styling and a combination of bold, prominent colors and graphic prints.
Ader Error is a brand that has a lean into the 90s fashion style, but that does not limit its appeal in the least. In 2018, Ader Error was called “the world’s coolest brand” thanks to its focus on combining the 90s feel with a more modern outlook. Ader Error is not content with simply being another popular fashion brand. They collaborated with many big-name players in the fashion industry, Puma and G-Shock being among them, and aim to be a lifestyle representation over all else. The brand’s creators, who choose to remain anonymous, have chosen to conduct a sophisticated mix of a retro style, with a clever application of materials, colors, and oversized fits. Catering to the Korean youth, the brand is gender-neutral, creating clothes for anyone and everyone with a personality they are interested in showing off through their fashion choices.
99 Percentis started out as a fashion designer for rock bands, attracting the industry with their creative and unique silhouettes and eye-catching visuals in their design. The designer, Bjowoo, drew much of the inspiration by immersing himself into the punk scene across Tokyo, Bangcock, London, and Paris. After studying dressmaker fashion in Tokyo, Bjowoo started his unique 99 Percentis brand in 2012 and has since grown to garner interests not only from youth attracted to the darker side of artistic design, but also major artists including Lady Gaga, Big Bang, and Justin Bieber.
Which is your favorite Korean streetwear brand? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.