On the eve of Seoul Fashion Week, we present a followup list to our original 20 Korean Brands to Know. Here’s 18 more.
October 15 means the start of Seoul Fashion Week, so we couldn’t go on before bringing you a round-up of Seoul-based brands to keep on your radar, albeit not all of the below may hold timed presentations. This list, just like our first one, is in alphabetical order and encompasses apparel and accessories labels that run the gamut from classic and casual to punk and maybe even weird. We’d also love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on others we may have missed.
Seoul-based designer Bajowoo first launched 99%IS in 2013, debuting at Tokyo Fashion Week the following year. Regularly breaking news at renowned publications like WWD and GQ Japan, the former COMME des GARCONS and Christian Dada collaborator is worn by the likes of Lady Gaga, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber and G-Dragon on stage and off. 99%IS is sold at famed retailers Isetan Shinjuku and 10 Corso Como Seoul, where it recently had a buzz-worthy pop-up.
Beslow is firstly a multi-brand shop before it is a private label. Just as its name may imply, it places value in comfort and ease of wear, urging consumers to slow down and enjoy the garments, and life in general. Well-made basic pieces are not only easy to wear, but also easy to style, effortlessly mix-and-matching.
BLC by Brownbreath
Brownbreath’s lesser-known younger brother BLC has the slogan “Carry the Thoughts,” a fitting statement that is well reflected in its focus on carry-all accessories. BLC offers everything in the category from backpacks, crossbodies and totes to custom compartments and pouches, all sporty and casual while maintaining an urban sensibility that perfectly blends in Korea’s concrete jungles.
Diafvine is perhaps Korea’s coolest leather-jacket maker, founded in 2002 and focusing on “wild action performance” wear. Pairing luxe horse hair or cowhide leather outerwear with vintage-inspired Hawaiian shirts and sleek fedoras, the Diafvine man is the definition of badass cool. The brand also happens to have one of the most visit-worthy stores in Gangnam, tucked away in the second floor of an unassuming building; you have to ring the bell and be escorted into the world of hunter trophies and Indian incense.
Founder Jongsoo Lee was inspired by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s concept of “repetition and difference,” applying that to his clothing collection which he founded last year. Intentionally limiting the color palette and materials, Lee only changes subtle details between each garment in his collection to create a brand with an unchanging story and identity.
A Continuous Lean‘s praise of Eastlogue as “impressive” would be an understatement. To this writer at least, Eastlogue by Dongki Lee is the best in heritage-inspired tailored clothing coming out of Korea. Taking from vintage and military garments, particularly reminiscent of 1930s America, Eastlogue is a reminder that substantially high-quality clothing is possible to produce in the small, up-and-coming country. No wonder the likes of Gentlemonster, Gentry and Oi Polloi love the brand. And now you can also look forward to Unaffected, Eastlogue’s younger, more culturally experimental label, which just launched.
Heich Blade by Heich Es Heich
Another newly launched label, Heich Blade, debuts this Fall/Winter 2015 under the larger Heich Es Heich brand. No, it’s not some Central European language word you’ve never seen before; Heich Es Heich is the literal pronunciation of the letters H, S and H spelled out, representing the founder’s initials (So the H’s are silent? Yes.) Heich Blade is HEH’s younger unisex counterpart, which you can find at Musinsa.
“The best floss makes the best fabric and the best fabric makes the best garment” is one of the mottos for Heritage Floss, a four-year-old brand inspired by old sportswear. Starting out from cotton garments, the brand has now expanded to offer padded outerwear and accessories that altogether create casual looks reminiscent of the ’90s. HF also almost exclusively dresses one of the most popular indie bands in South Korea now, Hyukoh, being largely responsible for the country’s current street trends.
Roliat designer Seungwan Hong – one of the most respected men’s designers in S. Korea – debuts HOMFEM this season, and it’s so new that there’s no real information about it yet. We can only guess that its name stands for “homme” and “femme,” and judging by its first collection lookbook – shot alongside classic Grecian-esque columns and crown molding – it will offer some drool-worthy coats and knits.
Coming out of the prestigious Antwerp Royal Academy, Hyein Seo may not be pigeonholed as a Korean brand, but we felt that the designer, who’s from Korea, deserved to be mentioned. The former VFILES Made Fashion Week participant and Rihanna dresser is now sold at boutiques like Boon the Shop, her horror film and skater punk inspirations beloved by those rebellious at heart.
Serbian poet Dejan Stojanovic popularized the phrase, “the farther away, the closer the home becomes.” That’s most certainly what happened to IISE co-founders Terrence and Kevin Kim, two second-generation Korean-American brothers who were so mesmerized by their cultural roots that they decided to create a brand inspired by them. IISE is probably the only brand on this list that takes design cues from ancient Korean architecture and traditional garb, interpreted through beautifully dyed and handmade leather accessories. IISE is ramping up with a site relaunch and apparel line next month, so stay tuned.
Mischief Makers is the ultimate #bae label, making ’90s hip hop girl look as good today as it did yesteryear. Friends and co-founders Jiyoon Jung and Jieun Seo also perfectly embody the brand, rightly considered as two of the coolest females in Korea’s underground fashion scene.
One of the more commercial and widely-sold brands on this list, PLAC is making huge strides to expand further, particularly in the US. It’s seen collaborators like Kathleen Kye and Matthew Miller, and churns out countless denim jeans — what you’ll see more from them, however, is an elevated ready-to-wear collection.
SLWK — or Sleep Walker — produces impeccable outerwear almost in a manner resembling bespoke made-to-order. While part of that is probably due to its small scale, we hope to see more from them in the future.
Solid Homme by Wooyoungmi
Wooyoungmi, who bases her collection in Paris, also owns and operates Solid Homme Korea. Urban aesthetics and futuristic direction inform the brand, largely characterized by bold outerwear and clean-cut silhouettes.
Stereo Vinyls is a beast of a brand, uniquely designed in London and operated in Seoul. Despite being only two years-old, SV has made a mark for itself, popping up at the prestigious Beaker store multiple times and being worn by a slew of the country’s celebrities. If you haven’t seen its Simpsons or Disney collections yet, head here now.
Vivastudio is a steadily growing brand that seems to be finding its own style at a gradual pace. Creative director Youngmin Lee’s latest “Hot Air Balloon” collection won our hearts this season with satin bomber jackets and baseball inspirations. You can see more of Vivastudio’s recent collections over at our sister site, Selectism.
’90s Korean manhwas inspire Seunghoon Lee and Wonmyoung Choi, whose use of well-designed typography stand out in their playful range of graphic t-shirts and sweats. One of their models for Spring/Summer 2015 was a miniature samurai figure armed to fight, conquer and eat good food.