The brands that are truly making waves in the cooler corners of Seoul are nowhere to be seen around the city’s fashion week, says Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen.
It’s an Off-White-esque approach to the new fashion market that each of the infinite young brands in Seoul wants to mimic, but which few – if any – on the official show schedule seem to get right.
Juun.J shows in Paris, but not Seoul
© Victor Virgile
I far from attended all of the hourly shows that fill said schedule for six days, some of which even group designers back-to-back in a tent dedicated to emerging talent. But as something of a veteran at Seoul Fashion Week, it became apparent to me this season how fundamental it is that this platform restructures its approach and creates a more intimate, more exclusive and more curated pedestal for its fashion export. While labels like D-Antidote, Youser and Münn have become recognisable names for those in-the-know outside of the South Korean borders, the brands that are truly making waves in the cooler corners of Seoul are nowhere to be seen around the city’s fashion week.
Notably missing are This Is Never That, a brand that so perfectly captures the current appetite for bringing performance wear into the urban wardrobe, and LMC (Lost Management Cities), which makes the kind of normcore sportswear and gritty stylised campaign films that make Gen Z tick. Where is KB Lee aka Fakesickness? And Wooyoungmi, a highly established brand that shows in Paris and should be represented in its hometown, too? Where is Juun.J?
Most loud in its absence was of course PeaceMinusOne, which should be the crown of Seoul Fashion Week’s USP. You could compare it to the London men’s shows without A-Cold-Wall, or even the London women’s shows without Victoria Beckham.
Seoul Fashion Week does a lot to nurture emerging talent: alongside that Generation Next tent within the soul-destroying Zaha Hadid spaceship – the Dongdaemun Design Plaza – that hosts fashion week, which desperately needs to use locations around the city instead, there are mentoring schemes in place to further the development of new designers. But in order to motivate the talent graduating from the city’s colleges, Seoul Fashion Week needs to elevate itself to an aspirational level. For international visitors and the local industry alike, this platform has to showcase the coolest, most esoteric brands, models, artists and musicians that South Korea has to offer. Currently, they are MIA; for that same lack of cool factor.
© Peter White
In that sense, it was curious to see how the newest names on the official schedule all seemed to be boding an impending apocalypse.