South Korean Fashion: A Quick Overview

   In my previous post I mentioned that South Korea is a hotbed of culture in a way it can be hard to imagine for those who have not exposed themselves fully to Hallyu (Korean Wave). As well as perhaps the greatest conveyor belt of pop production since the height of Motown (with bands such as Girls' Generation, Miss A, Wonder Girls and 2PM all  producing pop classic after classic), of which you can read a bit more in an article I wrote for The Guardian newspaper, the country also has an unprecedented level of high quality drama and its film industry, in terms of sheer quality, is one of the best around the globe. The Land of the Morning Calm is also one of the leaders in the fashion world too. Whilst I hate to generalise about entire nations of people I do think the following holds true - if you are South Korean, you are 95% more likely to be better dressed than anyone else in the world.

   One of the things that sets South Korea apart from other countries is its ability to successfully merge disparate elements to make a unique whole. This is most noticeable in its films in which any one movie can combine elements from genres as eclectic as melodrama, action, romance, comedy and horror all into the same film. My favourite director, Kwak Jae-yong, in titles such as My Sassy Girl, Windstruck and The Classic, often crafts tear-jerkers out of love stories with sci-fi, slapstick and period elements all equally entrenched into his work. The music industry similarly will often throw up songs which combine ballads with R'n'B beats and aggressive spit raps. The Korean fashion industry is similar in that it takes a youth-centric approach to melded styles to create vibrant, bold and vivid new styles which, by combining a number of different elements creates unique, and ahead of their time, styles. So whilst the West is just cottoning on to the idea of androgynous footwear, the fad in South Korea of taking masculine silhouettes, such as brogues, and giving them feminine embellishments, such as a wedged heel, is a long-established tradition.

 
 In general, Korea manages to combine the best of its influences to create astounding new styles. So, for example, it takes many of the cuter kawaii aspects of Japanese fashion and amplifies them whilst, simultaneously, softening the edges of the styles by incorporating more "street-wise" elements to toughen up the look. An example could be the "cloak-coat" style sported by Miss A's Suzy to the right of this paragraph. (If you think that her face is familiar it is because she has been, and will continue to be, repeatedly referenced by this blog.) For more out and out straight up cuteness is the below image of IU, a singer and Suzy's co-star in Dream High, who is sporting an uber-feminine collar which is slowly blowing up in popularity in the West.

   Men's fashion is also a peculiar, and wonderful, mix of paradoxes which combines mixing and matching the traditionally masculine with more feminine ideals too. Whereas Lee Byung Hun, the impossibly handsome star of IRIS, can be seen at the top of the blog sporting an impeccably fit three-piece suit (worn to perfection), it is not uncommon for young Korean men (particularly K-Pop stars) to embrace more feminine pursuits in their search for the perfect aesthetic. Whilst this is a tactic which can often backfire, when coupled with more masculine tendencies the look can be incredibly flattering as illustrated by the third Dream High alumni of this article, Kim Soo-hyun, as seen below. Just like their films and music, South Korean style is a perfect example of blurring styles to achieve an incredible whole.
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3 comments

  1. I think you put a picture of lee byung hyun on purpose =_= *crazy for the gorgeous man* AH! lol

    I really wish I had that ability to dress with mixmatched pieces and make them look awesome. >_< I am not a fashion person at all.... Gosh at all <_> so expensive... </3

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  2. Yes he is incredibly handsome, charming and one of the most stylish men on the planet!

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