Seoul Fashion Week stuns on, off the runway

2020 Seoul Fashion Week took place Oct. 20 to Oct. 25. Alex Finch / Vogue

Running from Tuesday, Oct. 20 to Sunday, Oct. 25, the 2020 Seoul Fashion Week boasted its usual creativity not only on the runway but with the incredible street style that, as usual, rivals and maybe even outshines the runway looks. Similar to other fashion shows that have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic, Seoul Fashion Week was held virtually. It featured 45 designers, 35 of whom were veterans to the show and 10 of whom were new and a part of Generation Next.

Because of the virtual format, the show locations were sprinkled around Seoul. Dongdaemun Design Plaza, where the show has been housed for the past five years, was where the Generation Next designers showcased their lines. Other locations included rolling fields of reeds and a sky bridge. These various locations provided a different vibe to the show, but a vibe that was refreshing as it gave the designer more discretion over how they wanted their collections to be experienced. While it was not ideal that large crowds could not go to the shows, this new format showed the perseverance of the fashion community to keep producing and sharing art. 

Perhaps even more impactful for the future of fashion than the various locations, Seoul Fashion Week featured a new technology called “see-now-buy-now.” This new technology is a livestream shopping platform that allows anyone to purchase certain products right off the runway. The live shopping platform will be on Naver, Korea’s largest web search engine, and on the Chinese app WeChat’s shopping platform. See-now-buy-now is important because it opens up a purchasing opportunity to a much larger population; getting clothes straight off the runway was formally only an option for VIP customers.

According to Choi Kyung-ran, the CEO of the Seoul Design Foundation, “the transition to the digital runway and the introduction of live commerce will not be a temporary measure, but a leading example as an alternative to expand and develop Seoul’s fashion business in the post-COVID-19 era.”

It will certainly be exciting to see if this technology starts to be featured in other fashion shows around the world. While it certainly increases accessibility to the general public, it may take away from the artistry and theatrics of fashion shows by making it feel more commercial and profit-driven. 

Out of the many designers who showcased their spring 2021 collections at Seoul Fashion Week, there was no real common thread. There was a huge variety, which made for an extremely interesting and exciting week. One unique show was ChanceChance by Chan Kim. This menswear show featured many different colors, patterns and textiles ranging from leather to quilt. A few of the looks featured tops that consisted of blankets that the models wrapped around themselves. ChanceChance’s garments were particularly emblematic of the K-pop style that challenges the typical masculine fashion frames and colors of the past. Seoul boasts one of the most dynamic menswear scenes as the male population there embraces cutting-edge trends and androgonous styles. The wide array of styles in ChanceChance’s show was a great example of this shift in fashion. Another notable show was Minjukim by designer Minju Kim. Her collection effortlessly combined soft, traditionally feminine outlines and colors while also making it feel reminiscent of menswear. Some of the garments seemed to have such distinct elements of both styles that it would take a few seconds to dissect the outfit. Kim experimented with dramatic patterns but kept the colors fairly modest. Her show was different from other shows in that it seemed feasible that some of its looks could be seen on the streets in America, which usually features a more risk-averse street style.

While the shows themselves are incredibly impressive, the street style surrounding the show warrants its own review. Seoul street style is world-renowned for its intense creativity and vision. It seems to shun trends, and the combinations are a form of artistry created in an isolated way by ignoring the pressures that can sometimes be felt by mainstream trends. The result of this is an incredible array of styles. There is everything from neon, patterned, rainbow, loose-fitting garments to very structured, monochromatic outfits. 

Overall, Seoul Fashion Week was an exciting display of cutting-edge trends. It will be exciting to see if these styles permeate to the streets of places like Los Angeles and New York in the future.


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