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Fashion October, 15 2013

20 Korean Brands You Need to Know Right Now

South Korea has been on our radar and it’s not just because of the Gangnam-style pop sensation PSY. From technology and food to movies and fashion, every aspect of global culture has been disrupted by the wave of creative force coming in from the small Asian peninsula. Take, for example, Spike Lee‘s remake of the classic Korean film, Oldboy, or AMBUSH and Chrome Hearts‘ collaborations with rapper-songwriter G-Dragon (who will soon add Stampd LA to his collab list). And there’s also Jeremy Scott and Terry Richardson‘s love of female music group 2NE1. To top things off, there’s even a whole part of New York Fashion Week dedicated to the country – a runway show called Concept Korea – where the region’s hottest designers show off their seasonal collections to international buyers.

In light of Seoul Fashion Week set to begin this Friday, October 18, we bring you a list of who’s who in South Korea’s fashion scene. This list is in alphabetical order and spans different genres, from casual, sporty and classic clothes to accessories, with prices ranging from affordable to high. We’ve filtered down from the dozens out there to only the best, most promising Korean brands you should know now and where to get them.

 

1. 87MM (eighty-seven milli)

Why you should know them: 87MM was founded by Wonjoong Kim, Chan Kim and Jiwoon Park, three of the most sought-after high fashion male models in Korea. Riding on the thriving online shopping trend in the country, the trio of friends sought to make a webstore, but it became so popular that when they opened a physical pop-up shop in Gangnam’s Rodeo Street (yes, from PSY’s song), they sold out of stock within four days. 87MM is now seeking global distribution, showing its latest pieces at Paris Fashion Week this Spring/Summer 2014.
Where to get them: 87MM webstore (Korea only), K-Pop Style
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram

 

2. BLANKOF

Why you should know them: We love BLANKOF‘s “neat and proper design ethos” so much that we even featured them in our print magazine. Headed by the design direction of Derghyun Won, they make backpacks, totes, crossbodies, cases and even caps, which are great for everyday casual wear.
Where to get them: BLANKOF webstore
Follow them: Official websiteTwitter, Instagram

 

3. BLINDNESS

Why you should know them: BLINDNESS was founded this year by three Seoul-based designers who collectively call themselves BLND STUDIO. For a brand that’s less than a year old, it’s doing pretty well, already being featured in VOGUE KoreaDAZED & CONFUSED Korea and Harper’s BAZAAR Man. We credit their minimal yet quietly unique aesthetic for their success.
Where to get them: BLINDNESS webstore and more (Korea only)
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook

 

4. Buried Alive

Why you should know them: Buried Alive was founded in 2009, inspired by the horror flick of the same name. The brand wants to “represent the attitude of street and youth culture rather than aspire to high fashion, and remind society that mass media has the potential to bury them alive.” Their newly released campaign music video, “Bad Tooth,” seems to take the unfriendly phrase quite literally. Press play above.
Where you can get them: WHEREHOUSE
Follow them: Official websiteVimeo

 

5. COVERNAT

Why you should know them: If you’re a lover of Americana-inspired workwear but you don’t have an American-ish body type, COVERNAT has got you covered. Branching off from a pair of denim pants in 2008, the brand has been delivering classic Americana and Japanese-inspired clothes ever since, but what sets it apart from all the other menswear brands of the same concept is its fit commitment to focusing on “the Asian body type.”
Where to get them: Barrels
Follow them: Official websiteFacebookTwitter, Instagram

 

6. D.GNAK by KANG.D (pronouced dee-geu-nahk)

Why you should know them: Vogue Italia recently named Dongjun Kang of D.GNAK an emerging talent to watch out for. His clothes are characterized by experimental layering and reinterpretation of deconstructed garments. Kang just announced that he will take a hiatus from Seoul Fashion Week after this Spring/Summer 2014 to focus on international expansion. Wiz Khalifa has been spotted sporting D.GNAK, which also has a secondary diffusion line, D by D.
Where to get them: Farfetch
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, TwitterYoutube

 

7. ESPIONAGE

Why you should know them: ESPIONAGE is so rooted in classic Americana that some are surprised to find that the brand is Korean. Their name comes from the founders’ desire to deeply investigate and spy on ways to make the best clothing possible. Head designer Chris Young playfully and dutifully calls himself “agent,” a name he also calls his clients.
Where to get themWHEREHOUSE, hiphoper
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook

 

8. FOMAN

Why you should know them: FOMAN is currently one of the best-selling accessories brand among the Korean youth for their eye-popping yet utilitarian designs. With prices ranging from $30 to $35 for canvas and leather totes, it’s easy to see why their stock is always sold out.
Where to get them: hiphoper

 

9. General Idea

Why you should know them: Now a pretty seasoned runway designer, Bumsuk Choi of General Idea started out on the streets – literally. At age 19, he began selling his self-designed clothes at Korea’s Dongdaemun Market, Seoul’s most thriving retail and wholesale hub with pseudo-shops and street stalls, also home to many fast-copied designer knockoffs. Then he went on to study fashion design in Tokyo and eventually debuted General Idea at New York Fashion Week in Fall/Winter 2009. Now, his clothes are sold globally, selling out at stores like Atrium New York within on week.
Where to get them: General Idea webstore, Odin New York, Matches London
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, TwitterYoutube

 

10. Gentlemonster

Why you should know them: This eyewear brand brings its technical expertise in glasses manufacturing to the realm of high fashion. Having collaborated with Korea’s top fashion brands for both men and women, Gentlemonster is now worn by a large chunk of the celebrity-and-trendsetter folks of the region, popularly showing up in street style snaps as well. Most recently, Gentlemonster collaborated with YG, the giant music label that represents G-Dragon, PSY and 2NE1, and regularly works with other artists to create avant-garde designs.
Where to get them
: marc le bihan
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, Tumblr, Vimeo

 

11. grafik:plastic

Why you should know them: Another eyewear brand, except with a twist of humor, grafik:plastic makes colorful and affordable frames with detachable temples that you can mix and match. It doesn’t care to be so fashionable and employs regular people as ambassadors, like the approachable guy next door or your heartwarming grandfather. grafik:plastic is currently expanding its retail presence internationally, exhibiting at the (capsule) trade show in New York this past July.
Where to get them: grafik:plastic webstore
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook

 

12. Human Potential (also known as HUPOT, pronounced hew-pot)

Why you should know them: Known for their graphic prints and bold silhouettes, Human Potential is coveted by the top celebrities and trendsetters worldwide, most notably A$AP Rocky and Big Sean. See their full “BLOOD PAINT” Spring/Summer 2014 collection here.
Where to get them: Human Potential webstore (Korea only) and more
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, Twitter

 

13. J KOO

Why you should know them: J KOO was founded as a womenswear brand, debuting its menswear for the first time this Spring/Summer 2014 at Paris Fashion Week. The brand uses a lot of bold, colorful prints and exaggerated silhouettes, but it keeps an understated and calm sensibility.
Where to get themStockist list
Follow them: Official websiteFacebookTwitter, Tumblr

 

14. JUUN.J

Why you should know them: Many of you have probably heard of JUUN.J or at least seen the brand’s clothes worn by the likes of RihannaPusha T and G-Dragon. But what you probably didn’t know is that Karl Lagerfeld is also a client, who started wearing JUUN.J in 2008 – only a year after the brand’s debut at Paris Fashion Week. The Seoul-trained designer, Wookjoon Jung, now rubs shoulders with various fashion giants since his brand’s acquisition by Samsung Chaeil Industries, one of Korea’s most powerful conglomerates that owns Bean Pole and licenses brands like BalmainThom Browne and COMME des GARÇONS. You can also find Jung’s stamp on products made in collaboration with AMBUSH, Reebok and New Era.
Where to get themSSENSE and more
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, YouTube

 

15. KYE (pronouced kah-ee)

Why you should know themKYE is a hotly-talked about brand in fashion right now, both for men’s and women’s wear. Started by Kathleen Hanhee Kye in 2010, the Seoul-based brand has skyrocketed in popularity and gained much international attention since its debut at Concept Korea’s Fall/Winter 2013 runway show. KYE boasts CiaraRita Ora and 2NE1’s CL in its roster of clients.
Where to get them: Harvey Nichols, Atrium, Opening Ceremony, Oak and more
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr

 

16. LEATA (pronouced lee-tah)

Why you should know them: LEATA combines the design technicalities of sports, military and workwear uniforms to create the “optimal” and ultimate menswear style. And we like the brand’s carefree, bad-ass take on it. See its full Fall/Winter 2013 “Hyper & Hypo” collection here.
Where to get them: hiphoper
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, Twitter, Vimeo

 

17. LIFUL (pronouced lah-ee-full)

Why you should know them: LIFUL caught our attention this year with their Spring/Summer 2013 lookbook. Its tagline is “minimal garments” and just as it says, the brand’s clothes are unpretentious, proving that style can be achieved with simplicity. LIFUL‘s clothes lack any unnecessary elements, but they still give a fresh, unique touch to the wearer with details like pops of texture or mismatching color patches.
Where to get them: hiphoper and more
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram

 

18. Nohant (pronouced no-ahng)

Why you should know them: This Seoulite brand takes extremely classic clothing shapes and gives them a modern touch, creating sophisticated and sleek designs for both men and women. The beautiful Victoria’s Secret angel Barbara Palvin is a fan of their signature “LONELY/LOVELY” shirt. Harper’s BAZAAR Man recently named Nohant one of the top “11 Next Generation” menswear brands in Korea.
Where to get them: Stockist list (Korea only)
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook

 

19. thisisneverthat

Why you should know them: thisisneverthat is worn by the most popular underground South Korean rappers like Meta and Mad Clown. The brand takes heavy inspiration from old-school streetwear as you can see in their Fall/Winter 2013 “CAN YOU KXXP A SECRET” collection video above.
Where to get them: WHEREHOUSE
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, Instagram, Vimeo

 

20. TONYWACK

Why you should know them: Another “11 Next Generation” brand, TONYWACK calls itself a “reasonably priced” basics maker for those of you who want timeless, investment-worthy clothes. It’s definitely one of the more grown-up style brands out of this bunch, but it keeps things interesting with lookbooks of beat-up models.
Where to get them: Stockist list (Korea only)
Follow them: Official websiteFacebook, Tumblr

 

Visit here for the full schedule of Seoul Fashion Week.

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