The 5 coolest Korean streetwear labels you should know. From the runway to cult favorites, we bring you a list of who’s who in South Korea’s fashion scene.
While we’ve highlighted Paris, London, New York and Tokyo as a serious leading fashion capitals, there are some truly exciting things happening in Seoul and the rest of South Korea that have intrigued anyone who’s been paying attention.
Beyond 2NE1, BIGBANG and other K-Pop stars becoming international fashion icons, there are brands coming out of Korea that are joining the leaders of streetwear, menswear, and high-end fashion, proving that the style coming out of The Land of the Morning Calm is anything but placid. From the runway to cult favorites, these are The 5 coolest Korean labels right now.
Founded by husband-wife duo Steve Jung and Yoni Pai who had graduated respectively from Central Saint Martins and the London College of Fashion. They had launched Steve J & Yoni P with a Topshop capsule collection and much fanfare from their friends back home. Last year, they debuted a new denim label called SJYP with a series of raw denim pieces in revamped nineties silhouettes—their distressed denim-themed set were something only the coolest kids on the block could pull off. Creative and daring – this is the latest darling of the hip crowds of Shinsa area who are looking to get spotted by street style photographers–Kpop stars like Hyuna (4Minute) and models Hyoni Kang, Irene Kim and Jung Hoyeon, who often spotted wearing the label’s pieces. Hence, we need to follow suit!
Known for: Nineties-style denim
Since graduating from Central Saint Martins, Kathleen Kye has quickly risen through the fashion ranks: a 2011 debut at London Fashion Week, a 2012 stop at New York Fashion Week through Concept Korea, and a spot on 2014 shortlist for the LVMH Prize. Her knack for street art graphics and quirky designs has earned her a long list of celebrity fans, like Rihanna, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, G Dragon, Dara (2NE1) and Sunny (Girls’ Generation). Today, KYE is at the forefront of pushing both Korean womenswear and men’s style to the forefront of the global scene, enough to grab Opening Ceremony’s attention where a few pieces are currently stocked. With simple but very rare silhouettes and prints, KYE keeps the fun that Korean style has come to embody without ever becoming too cheesy or safe.
Known for: Standout outerwear
3. Lucky Chouette
In 2005, designer Jae Hyun Kim launched Jardin de Chouette, operating largely on a couture scale, and became one of the first to bring high-end contemporary fashion to the country’s burgeoning industry. Her diffusion line, Lucky Chouette, reinterprets Jardin’s feminine silhouettes for the cool girl-about-town—drop-waist sailor dresses, denim culottes that button up the front. A chouette, which means owl in French, is the official mascot and appears on T-shirts, sweaters, and dresses each season. This year, the brand attempted to stay true to its unique vision while still presenting accessible and wearable designs.
Known for: Graphic prints and gamine silhouettes
Where to find them: Luckychouette.com
Known for his cheeky streetwear designs that is favoured by male and female K-pop celebs such as ONew (Shinee) and Sunny (Girl’s Generation), Yohan Kang became the designer to watch when he took inspiration from post-war Japanese delinquents and ’90s Hong Kong street gangsters last season, to revive embroidered bomber jackets. For Fall 2016 which debuted at Seoul Fashion Week, Kang once again turned heads by sending models down in stark utilitarian outfits emblazoned with strong Chinese slogans. Our wish list is to have a black hoodie with Charm’s logo on the front from the Fall 2016 collection. And now, couples can take things up a notch with Kang’s latest collaboration with 91.2: roosevelt shirt and dress, for the swag partners.
Known for: Couples street punk
Where to find them: Store-charms.com; Fig in Brooklyn, New York
5. Hyein Seo
Hyein Seo is aware of her inspirations and focuses on the substantial influences. Her clever manipulation of the subject is loved by Rihanna, while VFILES has appreciated her work and let her debut at New York Fashion Week.
Hyein Seo’s designs are drifting between basic silhouettes and bold motives. The raw aesthetics is dictated by the tradition of Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, which have Ann Demeulemeester and Dries van Noten among its graduates. Playful slogans and badges are inspired by streetwear culture, the trend specifically strong in South Korea. Full of eclecticism and unconventional solutions, Hyein Seo is definitely a person to keep your eyes on.
Known for: Bomber jacket and OTT fur