Seoul at Heart: Must-Known Talents of Seoul Fashion Week

Seoul at Heart: Must-Known Talents of Seoul Fashion Week

Seoul at Heart: Must-Known Talents of Seoul Fashion Week

Move over K-Pop! Now, it’s time to speak out about the real talents of Seoul fashion scene.

Move over K-Pop! Now, it’s time to speak out about the real talents of Seoul fashion scene.

Photography: Beomseok Won

Text: Selen Mecoglu

In recent times, it’s barely hard to ignore the massive power of Asia. The region which significantly shows progress in the fashion industry has captured everyone’s attention in such a short time. The unique sense of design of this market makes Europe slightly boring. South Korea, one of the main players of the East Asian market, with its experienced and emerging designers, is exponentially getting attention on the global scene. If you think that K-Pop is the only phenomenon here, consider your thoughts again. 

During Seoul Fashion Week, the outside of Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which is designed by late Zaha Hadid, is like an offbeat fashion carnival. One of the most important fashion events in the city is bringing all Seoulers and their unusual street styles on the radar. Hosted by Seoul Metropolitan Government and organized by Seoul Design Foundation, the week is representing all outstanding and talented Korean designers on the global fashion scene. 

Afterward Seoul Fashion Week, we brought the designers together who presented their prominent and striking collections during the week. Let me warn you; this is just the tip of the iceberg. In Seoul fashion scene, many treasures hide their ingenuity, are about to come out of their shelves.

 

MAXXIJ

As the winner of Best Designer Award in Seoul Fashion Week, Creator Director Maxxi Jaehyung Lee wants people to have an experimental journey with his clothes. Deconstructive forms become his playground, which can be shaped into several environments. By creating new silhouettes and gathering several materials, most of the looks gain undisputed dynamics with movements. MAXXIJ is a good example of where streetwear is going and how it can evolve.

 

MAXXIJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does ‘MAXXIJ’ mean?

My actual name is Maxi. The “J” letter at the end of the name coming from my Korean name Jaehyung. The reason why the brand name has double x which stands for “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

 

What leads you to become a fashion designer?

Since when I was little, I always wanted to express and share my thoughts, imagination, and images with people. Through fashion, the expression of an idea and a reaction was immediate. Regarding that, I was always fascinated by fashion. I also loved the atmosphere of fashion shows.

 

How can you define your last collection?

The name of my latest collection for Spring Summer 2020 is “The Night”. Conceptually, It’s like a fantastical masquerade night party in my imagination. I tried to create an experimental and escapist collection. For this collection, bold contrast between the experimental construction and colors made strongly exaggerate by characters. The combination of cotton nylon dry touch sporty fabric and see-through silk and lace is the key design element of the collection. 

 

Where do you find your creativity in Korea? 

Korea and the city of Seoul are an extremely energetic and fast-changing dynamic area. Based on distinguished Korean culture, the fast speed of networking and recreation is creating a recent cultural phenomenon with global interest. I believe that nowadays, everyone is a “creator”, the power of creativity in Korea comes from fusion and recreation.

MAXXIJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should fashion be left alone or be multidisciplinary?

No matter how we define every boundary, they will be vague and everything related to them will transform through diversity at any moment. Further on, fashion is exponentially going to be more abundant, all that outcome from the change will be fashion itself. 

 

Regarding the emerging power of the Asian market, are you feeling like you’re a part of this highly dynamic attention? What are your intuitions and predictions of this market?

Due to the recent K-culture phenomenon, I realize that there are more power and chance that is given to us. I hope that the new wave of Asian markets can create more love and interest.

 

When you think of the nature of fashion, persistence seems unclear. Even so, what stays forever in fashion?

Fashion always has been a method of expression of identities. From now on, it is going to be more personalized and specialized. Therefore, the fashion of originality will last forever. 

 

What do you think about your ‘finally’ moment as a fashion designer in life?

When I become the most significant fashion designer…

 

MÜNN

Founded by Hyunmin Han, MÜNN is one of the most highlighted brands in the Seoul fashion scene. After gaining experience in fashion for a long time, he decided to create his brand to express a high-quality sense of design through his point of view. For the past five years, he is one of the ‘Ten Soul’ designers, which is selected by the international press and buyers in Seoul Fashion Week. With his own words, his style can be defined as “luxurious defamiliarization.” Blending his luxury-focused mindset with hybrid and unusual details is creating beautifully chaotic looks. Take a note; he also collaborated with Mulberry for his last Spring/Summer 2020 collection.  

MÜNN

What does ‘MÜNN’ mean?

MÜNN’ is a pronunciation of the last syllables of my name ‘Min’ in German. There isn’t a special meaning, just my name.

What leads you to become a fashion designer?

I originally studied advertising design and photography at college. At that time, an avant-garde fashion leading by British designers such as Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, John Galliano, which was quite inspiring. This inspiration had driven me to reenter the college for majoring in fashion design after the military service.

How can you define your last collection?

My recent collections were all about our exploration from Korean culture to the distinctive identity of MÜNN brand. MÜNN did its debut at London Fashion Week in last season. We’re planning to continue our journey in London. I always consider how I can be able to expose our brand identity on a global scale in this competitive fashion industry. I think Korean movies are the most globally acknowledged among art/culture area. Like the producer Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon Ho, creating fashion with the most ‘Korean’ motif in such perfection that could result in a distinctive brand identity that is internationally trendy.

Where do you find your creativity in Korea?

The elements of distorted time and culture are easily found in Seoul, which is not a common thing in other cities. After the Korean War, rapid socialization and development remained a unique mixture in the culture. You can feel these on the buildings in both traditional and Western styles and varied cuisine or religions. The influence of Japanese culture from the colonial era is distinctly visible. I think this is the characteristic of Korea, and it is usual for me to be inspired by these aspects.

Should fashion be left alone or be multidisciplinary?

Definitely! These days, it seems to be pointless to divide the disciplines. Hussein Chalayan and Alexander McQueen are good examples for this, their collections including both craftsmanship and developed techniques are still up to date and inspiring. Merging fashion with different disciplines such as videography, music, the publication would increase the sense.      

MÜNN

Regarding the emerging power of the Asian market, are you feeling like you’re a part of this highly dynamic attention? What are your intuitions and predictions of this market?

Recently, more traditional fashion houses are presenting their collections in Asia rather than Europe. I think focusing on the Chinese market where major consumers are at is much practical than keeping their pride as a European brand with history. This trend could be expected to accelerate further.

When you think of the nature of fashion, persistence seems unclear. Even so, what stays forever in fashion?

Rather than following the contemporary trend, I prefer clothing with concepts like, “The seam allowance of these shirts are made in different sewing order”, “This windbreaker is made of nylon fabric which recycled from plastic straws trashed at the ocean”, “The inner seam allowance of this jacket is exposed in purpose”. When a single item has such a concept and a purpose, I think the design become limitless and sustainable.

What do you think about your ‘finally’ moment as a fashion designer in life?

When I was a fashion student, Tom Ford was the best creative director at the time. He was the hero who leads Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent to the stage. I can’t forget the last two collections before leaving these houses. The catwalk was over, all the audience were sending huge applause to Tom Ford. He appeared to the stage in nicely dressed up, with a glass of Jack Daniel’s. When he hugged his partner and sent goodbye to the audience and staff, many of them stumbled tears. This moment might be the most beautiful destination of life as a designer.

EENK

A reputable crowd is cheering for EENK. Hyemee Lee, Creative Director of EENK, building a bridge between fashion and art. As a person who appreciates performing art, she adapts it to fashion and creates a proof about the relation between body and movement. Voluminous silhouettes with high-quality craftmanship building naive but enduring looks. Also, EENK has a subtitle, the Letter Project in which the concept of the brand is running as a project, presenting unique design items with keywords designated for each alphabet letter from A to Z. “Each keyword represents a fashion category or a theme, which embodies the distinctive style of EENK” says Hyemee Lee. 

 

What does ‘EENK’ mean?

EENK stands for INK, which prints out and makes a connection between the message and the image. I wanted my brand to be the medium that connects my taste and sense of style with people. I used ‘EE’ instead of ‘I’ (the pronunciation is the same in Korean) because E is the letter I mostly have in my name Lee Hyemee.

EENK

What leads you to become a fashion designer?

I majored in engineering when I first entered the university, but afterwards, I decided to change my major to textile and clothing design. I started working at a fashion company as a part-time job while I was still a student, which led me to get a position in the company. Ever since that, I’ve built my career as a designer for 13 years working in several big fashion companies in Korea. I have personally participated in launching several brands, alongside my career as well. So, it naturally led me to launch my brand after deciding to leave the company when I got married. 

 

How can you define your last collection?

The theme for this season is P for Performance, inspired by silhouettes and movement in the art and philosophy of choreography. Using Trompe-l’œil technique to create an illusion of embroidery, the main print for the collection was inspired by choreography sketches for the stage. Pieces were crafted with movement in mind, with carefully studied volume and silhouettes which combines the technical elements of modern dance with classical references. the Spring/Summer 2020 show has collaborated with a special performance directed by Brooklyn based choreographer Lee Yanghee who is renowned for multidisciplinary, experimental performing arts recreated from traditional Korean dance elements and collaborative projects with various interdisciplinary artists. We are challenging the notion of the brand as a commercial signifier and trying to make the brand more of a set of stories and cultural experiences that people can be immersed in.

 

Where do you find your creativity in Korea? 

Everything that is captured by all of my five senses. I don’t have to carve out time for inspiration. I’m mostly inspired by the atmosphere of the city where I live and belong. Everything I feel and share with the people I’m surrounded by in the Seoul fashion scene becomes my everyday inspiration.  

 

Should fashion be left alone or be multidisciplinary?

Fashion is beyond the fantasy of the creator’s will that completed by the actual consumers. So, the person who selects the piece gets the reflection his/her lifestyle intensively while styling it and adding it to his/her wardrobe. This is the moment that fashion is completed. To be selected and remembered among many brands, a certain sense and emotion must stand out through experiencing the brand. And I believe that interdisciplinary collaboration is necessary to build and share that sense for a brand. 

EENK

Regarding the emerging power of the Asian market, are you feeling like you’re the part of this highly dynamic attention? What are your intuitions and predictions of this market?

We have been trying to make our way into the international market in every season. I’ve been hearing that all Asian and Korean designers are under the global spotlight. We made our debut in Paris Fashion Week this season, by hosting an independent presentation followed by participating in Shanghai Fashion Week. It was quite a surprise to receive such a great response which was beyond our expectations. I feel like Asian designers are showing their strength in creating high-quality collections with a good sense of design and a reasonable price range. The Asian market is becoming one of the top marketing channels where social media is strongly influential. Also, international attention to K-Drama and K-Pop is playing an important role in the fashion industry. I see a positive path in the future for the market since I believe it is not just a temporary interest limited to fashion, it’s a cultural phenomenon. 

 

When you think of the nature of fashion, persistence seems unclear. Even so, what stays forever in fashion? 

I would say one’s taste and style. People go through millions of attempts of styling while trying to find a balance between the trend and the taste and style of oneself. One’s taste and style may change and evolve, but when it has been communicated and shared among the people who experienced that era, that certain taste and style remain eventually. And I believe fashion exists because people always try to find something that suits their taste and style, among so many. 

 

What do you think about your ‘finally’ moment as a fashion designer in life?

EENK’s Letter Project has started from B (for Beanie) while saving A for the finale. I’ve been planning to come back to A after the project reaches Z, to present an exhibition under them A for ALL / A for ARCHIVE. That day when I complete the ‘Letter Project’ will be the ‘finally’ moment for me. 

KIJUN

Meet KIJUN, newest and already one of the most bizarre brands in town. Founded by designer Hyunwoo Kim and founder Myungjun Shin in 2018, KIJUN represents the new face of Seoulers which appreciates the sense of eccentric design. His way of creating rely on self-expression and conceptual approach. Mostly, his inspirations are coming from movies. For Spring Summer 2020 Collection, he is inspired by Hong Kong movie : Comrades: Almost A Love Story. The deep bond between characters reflects as clothing in the collection. He’s matching bold colors with floral patterns. Harem pants look-alike skirts creating a contrast with sharp forms. If you want to look for beauty in chaos, KIJUN gives you the best of it.

KIJUN

What does ‘KIJUN’ mean?

Kijun means “standard” in Korean. KIJUN embodies the belief that it is better to seek your standards and explore new ideas of beauty. KIJUN advocates for the courage to slant the standards of new beauty.

What leads you to become a fashion designer?

Many things must have influenced but, definitely ‘Project Runway’ TV show affected me in a good way. The show made me dream about fashion fantasy.

How can you define your last collection?

To put it in words, retro, romantic, fantasy.

Where do you find your creativity in Korea?

Korea acquires many things to get inspired. The 80s-00s retro vibe of Korea is still vibrant. Also, the modern and futuristic atmosphere of Seoul exponentially provides new vibes for creativity.

Should fashion be left alone or be multidisciplinary?

I believe that fashion is much more worthy when merged with other fields. It might create more content. So, it becomes more attractive to the consumer.

KIJUN

Regarding the emerging power of the Asian market, are you feeling like you’re the part of this highly dynamic attention? What are your intuitions and predictions of this market?

Yes, absolutely feeling it. Many cool things are happening here and I’m pleased to get attention from several regions. Regardless of awareness, the Asian market is quite generous about new fashion. It means the market is ready to initiate something new. So, if the dynamics keep going on like this, there will be a bright future for us and the Asian market.

When you think of the nature of fashion, persistence seems unclear. Even so, what stays forever in fashion?

I would say story, philosophy, and craftsmanship.

What do you think about your ‘finally’ moment in life as a fashion designer?

I’d love to make a movie that has all my archives in it, as Leos Carax did in his movie Holy Motors.

YOUSER

Comprehending what new generations demand is always an advantage for a fashion designer. That’s what exactly YOUSER is doing now. To hide the bond between the designer and the customer in its name is something that a brand who answers the current generation’s demands, will do. Following Milano Fashion Week, Mooyeol Lee, Creative Director of YOUSER presented his collection in Seoul. In his designs, he strikingly comprehends the bold forms with neon colors. Modern tailoring making a perfect match with oversized silhouettes. With YOUSER, Mooyeol Lee puts forward one of the most remarkable shows of the week.

Yousser

What does ‘YOUSER’ mean?

YOUSER is a compound word of “you” and “user”. “You” means designer and “user” stands for the customer. Our brand values the relationship between both of them. The result of this communication is creating the brand’s DNA.

What leads you to become a fashion designer?

I felt a strong attraction to describe a story through clothes. I like the images. The way they are melted into clothes designs and expressed through fashion shows are interesting and fresh. I decided to become a fashion designer in my mid-20s.

How can you define your last collection?

It is a collection that combines the past and the future. In the past, cowboy costumes were combined with futuristic materials, prints, and colors. American history and designer imagination combined to create the overall mood for the collection. I used the title “Future Fakes,” which is coming from the fact that the designer’s imagination is kind of fake.

Where do you find your creativity in Korea?

I always try to look at it from a different perspective. Rather than looking for something special, I’m inspired by items or people that are usual to see in daily life. Korea has developed so fast that it become very generous in accepting new things. Everything coexists everywhere in Korea. These factors permeate every part of Korea, and they all inspire my creativity. I think what I’m looking for is more important than where I am. Creativity is everywhere.

Should fashion be left alone or be multidisciplinary?

Clothes in fashion don’t necessarily need to move forward into the future days. Skills cannot always satisfy a person. If it merged with other disciplines, that would be likely to lose pure uniqueness of fashion. Fashion is great for focusing on more sentimental humanism and history. However, it is a great thing to see that the fashion industry merges with other fields. It would be nice to provide more convenient functions for consumers because smartphones have become fully available to everyone, and they want to find all the information through them.

Yousser

Regarding the emerging power of the Asian market, are you feeling like you’re the part of this highly dynamic attention? What are your intuitions and predictions of this market?

I don’t think YOUSER is getting any unrivaled attention. But the brand is indeed growing with many rising and universalized designer brands in Asia. In the past, it was a rare thing for Asian designer brands to receive global attention, but with the development of the Korean wave, designer brands are showing progress. I think YOUSER is quite helping this trend, and we are eagerly looking for reasons and opportunities to lead the flow.

When you think of the nature of fashion, persistence seems unclear. Even so, what stays forever in fashion?

Increasing the quality of products, making better designs and more environmentally conscious products, and delivering the story thoroughly to consumers will increase the competitiveness among the brands and eventually make this valuable. The clothes are consumables and wear out over time. However, if the brand’s value remains, consumers will continue to buy the brand’s clothes. When the brand lost its value, it will disappear eventually.

What do you think about your ‘finally’ moment as a fashion designer in life?

The fashion industry is splendid. It is not easy to try not to let everybody down. I might work for a few more decades as a fashion designer in the future, but I want to live a stable life with the least number of people.

BOURIE

Creating simple but effective silhouettes is not as easy as what it looks like. BOURIE represents the simplicity in the chaotic Seoul city. To make a difference with clean and aesthetic looks is a significant priority for Eunhye Jo, Creative Director of Bourie. Her streamline is going with natural and pure colors. Celebrating womanhood with minimal, but fresh tailored pieces are creating an exuberant harmony. She is essentially acquiring everything what modern-day woman deeply desires.

Bourie

What does ‘Bourie’ mean? What does the meaning of the brand represent?

In Korean, ‘BOU’ means affluence and ‘RIE’ means ruling over it.

What leads you to become a fashion designer?

When I was in music college, I went to New York for language studies in 2005. Going around the department stores in New York was like my daily routine. Therefore, my housemate suggested me to study fashion design instead of music. For me, that suggestion was the trigger of getting into fashion.

How can you define your last collection?

The name of my last collection is ‘The Comfort of Incongruity’. I think the combination of the words is slightly ironic, but I wanted to define the collection like this.

Where do you find your creativity in Korea?

I can find it everywhere, especially in the mountains of Korea. The natural environment of the villages, which is in the foothills of mountains, reminds me of what kind of emotions my Korean DNA has.

Should fashion be left alone or be multidisciplinary?

Fashion has no limit. It cannot be trapped or be defined. It seems like a strange world, and so many things are connected with it.

Bourie

Regarding the emerging power of the Asian market, are you feeling like you’re the part of this highly dynamic attention? What are your intuitions and predictions of this market?

Well, are we really getting that emerging power? I have never thought about that. To be honest, I don’t want to get that as well because it’s slightly embarrassing. I hope BOURIE is known for its aesthetic level and standard in people’s minds, without worry about the origin.

When you think of the nature of fashion, persistence seems unclear. Even so, what stays forever in fashion?

Thinking of innovation or being different is the instinct of mankind. I think the power and constancy support fashion.

What do you think about your ‘finally’ moment as a fashion designer in life?

I’ve never thought about it and probably I won’t. Relaying on some regulations is a lazy thing to do. However, it’s a great relief to know that at least I will be here at any moment.

Credits:

Producer: Selen Mecoglu

Make-up: Suyoung Shim

Hair: Heesung Park

Model: Hyunjae Ha

Photo Assistant: Eunjeong Ko

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