The Andy & Debb Fall/Winter '16 show at Seoul Fashion Week. Seoul is leading the see-now-buy-now revolution.



Seoul Fashion Week: What Went Down And Why It's Important

Look out New York, Paris and Milan, there’s a new sheriff in town. Or, at least, there might be soon. Seoul Fashion Week—currently branded Hera Seoul Fashion week—is becoming a larger production with each passing year, and making a name for itself in the process.

The shows this week highlighted what some are calling South Korea’s “unapologetically populist approach” to high fashion, and raised some important conjectures about the future of the industry as a whole. Korean brands are responding to a growing, fast-paced and youth-driven market—successfully, we might add—and designers and fashion news outlets from all over are starting to take notice.

(L) Heich Es Heich Fall/Winter ’16. (R) R.Shemiste Fall/Winter ’16. Groovy.

What’s being talked up most is the see-now-buy-now approach many Korean designers are taking to their collections. It wasn’t uncommon this week to see brands like SJYP have a separate show for their second line, the looks in which were immediately available for purchase, in a room adjacent to where their primary collection was being showcased, . Indeed, most established Korean designers have second lines, which are rely heavily on online sales, are more affordably priced, and make up a major percentage of the brands’ business.

SJYP Fall/Winter ’16.

Focused primarily on global marketability and accessibility, the shows themselves were heavy on streetwear and athletic-inspired apparel. However, it wasn’t the clothes that made this week important. The conspicuous amount of K-pop bumped at every event, the very trend-conscious designs, and the presence of Korean celebrities at every major show, all signaled a majorly consumer-driven approach, unprecedented in the oft-elitist world of high fashion.

Heich Es Heich FW16
Another look from Heich Es Heich Fall/Winter ’16, including a hoverboard. Where’s the Biebs?

The take-away? Seoul is definitely on the come-up. While some of the secondary lines seem to serve primarily commercial standards rather than artistic ones, some real design work was definitely present. As South Korea continues to solidify its spot on the map of global fashion, and designers no longer feel as pressured as they do now to make their lines conform to commercial standards, new opportunities for ingenuity will inevitably open up. At the same time, the Western fashion world could learn from Seoul’s success—namely, the lucrativeness and cultural importance of a democratized fashion industry.

Images via Hera Seoul Fashion Week and J. Choi.

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