Fashion in South Korea

In recent years, fashion in South Korea has greatly evolved, due to inspiration from the West. Factors that have influenced the changes in South Korean fashion are culture, wealth, and (social) media. The country's developing economy has also had a profound effect on fashion.

Currently, South Korea maintains a unique fashion style that has become an acknowledged influence in worldwide trends.[1] South Korea's style has become more expressive, reflecting a sense of individuality, which is absent from the style of its northern counterpart, North Korea.[2]

In addition, the Korean Wave (the spread of appreciation for South Korean culture) is beginning to affect the fashion world. Korean celebrities are starting to have a real influence in fashion. For example, pop stars from Korea have recently been making appearances in places like New York. It is projected by the author, Euny Hong, that this fashion phenomenon will soon be worldwide.[3]


  • 1950s–60s: Introduction of Western clothing
  • 1970s–80s: Development of ready-made clothes industry (factory-made clothing, sold in finished condition)
  • 1980s–90s: Organization of SFA, increased popularity of designer brands
  • Present: Internationalization of fashion, overseas expansion of Korean designer clothes[4]

Fashion industry overview

  • 1917–1919: Textile industry opens; Joseon Textile Corporation and Kangsung Textiles are established and industry starts as a labor-intensive industry with an inexpensive workforce
  • 1960: Labor-intensive industry changes when first mass-production corporations appear
  • 1970: Start of women's clothing industry; minority designers make female ready-made suits in small boutiques[5]
  • 1972–1977: Major companies participate in making ready-made clothes (increased quality)
  • After 1970s: Because of increased GNP and the social debut of women, more diverse women's clothing begins to appear
  • 1980–1982: Advent of color TV;[6] school uniform and hairstyle regulations impact fashion in South Korea
  • 1986–1988: Hosting of Asian Games and 1988 Summer Olympics increases development of sport clothing brands
  • 1997: Fashion industry declines in the IMF[7]
  • 1999: Fashion industry recovers (high class materials with famous brands increasingly seen)[8]
  • Present: Government support and public attention leads to growth of designer fashion; Korean fashion industry is broadening its position in the world[9]

Fashion shows

  • 1955: An official name-designer was used primarily in South Korea; authorized designers are Norano Soo-kyung Seo, Young-ae Kim ( kor : 노라노, 서수경, 김영애 ).[10]
  • 1958: First fashion contest opens[11]
  • 1962: First international fashion show
  • 1964: Second fashion contest opens
  • 1966: Korean fashion show opens in South-East Asia expo
  • 1969: KAFDA (Korean Designers in New York Association) is established[12]
  • 1970: Korean fashion show opens in Japan at Expo '70
  • 1972: Farmer fashion show opens in the community development research society and KPD (Busan Designer Association) is established
  • 1983: First competitive exhibition for textile and fashion design opens
  • 1987: Ssangbangul (kor: 쌍방울) opens; first multidisciplinary cloth fashion show
  • 1990: S.F.A.A collection opens, and designer Sin-woo Lee participates in Tokyo collection; fashion in South Korea becomes widely known because of the Tokyo collection
  • 1992: Daejeon expo uniform festival opens and Korean designers go overseas
  • 1993: Korean designers participate in prêt-à-porter in Paris
  • Present: South Korean designers hold Korean fashion shows in many countries, often showing Korean styles[13]


In the early 1990s, designer Lee Shin Woo participated in the Tokyo Collection. Lee Shin Woo, Lee Young Hee, Jin Tea Ok, Hong Mi Wha, and others participated in the pret-a-porter in Paris. Korean designers appeared actively on the global stage. The Korean government started to encourage talented designers. By the end of the 1990s, the encouragement of talented designers declined, due to the currency crisis. Lately the government has supported designers, and designers who are less successful in the domestic economy are beginning to advance abroad.[14]

  • Moon Young Hee is a designer who expresses Korean ideas modernistically. The world can share her designs. By the end of the 1960s, she had worked as a designer in Wha Shin Renaun, and she founded the 'Moon boutique' ready-made clothing brand in 1974. In 1992, she founded the 'Moon Young Hee' designer brand.[15]
  • Andre Kim (August 24, 1935 (Gyeonggi-do Goyang-si) - August 12, 2010) was a South Korean fashion designer based in Seoul, South Korea. He was known predominantly for his evening and wedding gown collections. He is survived by his adopted son, Kim Jung-do.[16]
  • Lie Sang-Bong is a major fashion designer who shows Korean fashions in pret-a-porter, which is the core of the global fashion industry. Lie graduated from the Seoul Institute of the Arts. He made his debut as a fashion designer in 1983, when he won a prize in the Central Design Contest. In 1993, he gained attention from the Korean fashion community by presenting his first collection, 'The Reincarnation', at Seoul Fashion Week. Furthermore, in 1999 he was nominated as "Best Designer of the Year" by the Mayor of Seoul. Finally, in 2002 he made his debut in Paris and launched his first title, 'The Lost Memoir'. In 2006, Lie Sang-Bong held his place as a global designer, showing hangeul design clothes for the first time. In 2010, he provided custom designs for Yuna Kim. His appearance in Muhandojeon in 2006 contributed to his popularity.[17] Lie Sang-Bong is emerging as an 'influential designer' since the death of Andre Kim.[18]
  • Steve J & Yoni P are married designers. They make witty and characteristic clothes.[19] They held their 2013 FW Collection on March 27, 2013 (4:00 pm) in Yeuido IFC. The theme of Steve J & Yoni P's 2013 FW collection is 'Classic Meet Punk'. They make Punk a symbol of rebellion and youth, reborn at length as Rock Couture.[20]
  • Designer Lee Suk Tae graduated at L'ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and L'ecole de studio berco in Paris. He was selected in a young French designers' contest in Paris. He also had the opportunity to work in the Paris headquarters of the designing team of Sonia Rykiel and the Christian Dior Paris headquarters. 1997 was the year when he launched his own brand under the name of Kaal E. Suctae. The same year he was selected by the Korean Fashion Association and invited to present a collection at Hong Kong Fashion Week. A year later, in 1998, Lee Suk Tae inaugurated his own store, Galleria Department Store in Apgujungdong in Gangnam, and the brand entered the Collected (Seoul) multi-shop. Lee Suc Tae was selected as one of Seoul's "10 Soul Designers".[21]


  • Modern Creation Munich (MCM) is a luxury brand of leather goods, apparel and footwear, owned by Sungjoo Design Tech & Distribution. The brand was founded by Michael Cromer in Munich in 1975 as 'Michael Cromer Munich' (MCM).[22] In 2005 the brand was acquired by Sungjoo Design, which had been the German brand's exclusive licensee and distributor in Korea since 1994. Sungjoo Design is also the official licensee for Marks & Spencer, Lulu Guinness bags and Billy Bag.[23]
  • Bean Pole is a fashion brand belonging to Cheil Industries (of the Samsung Group). The Bean Pole brand has been successfully developed into one that can compete with the likes of Ralph Lauren. The brand differentiated itself by departing from the model used by its domestic competitors and dedicating itself to providing high-end, high quality casual apparel. Bean Pole's "Total Family Brand Strategy" has allowed it to expand into new demographics, and it is set to enjoy overseas success.[24]
  • Who.A.U. is a popular clothes brand, pronounced Who Are You, owned by E-Land, that sells clothes at relatively cheaper prices than its competitors. Their main marketing strategy is to imitate the California and exotic look.
  • Hazzys and Darks are fashion brands belonging to the LG Corporation.[25]
  • Teenie Weenie is an adult clothing store and SPA brand of the E-Land group.
  • BangBang caters to the teen and young adult demographic and carries a casual line of clothing. Prices are moderate and styles are ever-changing, following trends in the current society. Celebrity model Ha Ji-won endorses the brand.


Seoul Fashion Week

The Seoul Fashion Week is a global fashion event held twice a year in the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons. It is sponsored by the city of Seoul and conducted by Inotion World Wide. It is held in March and October in South Korea, followed by shows in New York City, Paris, London and Milan. The Seoul Fashion Week is split into three parts:[26]

  1. The Seoul Collection: A high-end Korean fashion event. The collection is among the biggest in Korean fashion.
  2. Generation Next is an upcoming fashion design program for Korean designers. It concentrates on designers with fewer than 5 years of experience. Unique appearance and creative thinking are emphasized in this section.
  3. The Seoul Fashion Fair is an exhibition showcasing Korean fashion companies. Its mission is to grow Korean fashion companies by helping to build business partnerships to compete in the global fashion market. It is easy for companies to get a spot at the fair.

Korea Fashion Design Contest

The Korea Fashion Design Contest looks for fresh and rising design talent in Korea. This contest began in 1983, and it has been supported by the Korean government since 2004 for its promotion of new designers.[27] The contest aims to:

  1. Find promising new Korean designers.
  2. Provide strategic and systematic mentoring, advertising and marketing support to these designers.
  3. Showcase Korean fashion on an international scale, to show the world that Korean fashion is a high-value industry.[28]

Korea Style Week 2013

Korea Style Week was an exhibition at COEX in Korea in 2013.[29] It combined a fashion show format with that of a fair for the first time in Korea. This was done to make it easy to find new designers and fashion online. Korea Style Week was an opportunity for companies to introduce the public to their products. This was done by creating events like styling classes, runways, flea markets, etc.

K-Pop: K-Collection in Seoul Fashion Concert

The K-Collection was last held on March 11, 2012, at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul.[30] The event was hosted by the Korea Tourism Organization, and featured performances by K-Pop artists such as MBLAQ, Infinite, Big Bang, IU and Miss A. The fashion show featured (among others) collections by 2PLACEBO, 8seconds, Kappa and Skin Food.

See also


  1. "한국적 디자인'으로 세계무대 누비는 패션 디자이너 이상봉 (" (in Korean).세계일보). 2008-03-25. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  2. Weekly 경향 (2009-07-14). "한국 민주주의 현주소를 진단한다(Korea democracy's analysis.(in cultural ways))". 주간 경향(Weekly Kyunghyang). Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  3. Hall, Casey (9 October 2014). "Fashion's New Faves: Korean Celebrities". WWD: Women's Wear Dail. 208 (53).
  4. 전 세계 300여 명의 패션 바이어가 극찬한 한국 신진디자이너들 (in Korean). MK fashion. 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  5. 70년대 고속성장한 한국 (in Korean). Daily UNN(한국대학신문). 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  6. "[어제의 오늘]1980년 컬러TV 국내 첫 출시한국" (in Korean). Kyunghyang Shinmun. 2011-08-01. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
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  9. 세계브랜드와 경쟁 (in Korean).한겨래). 2013-03-28. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  10. "바람의 길 :: 네이버 블로그". 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2013-05-19.
  11. "1세대 패션디자이너". naver news library. 1999-09-06. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  12. "프랑스에서 바라본 한국 패션쇼". 2008-04-03. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  13. '세계 속 한국스타일’ (in Korean). MK fashion. 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  14. Shin, Hye-sun (2008). Hanʼguk pʻaesyŏn 100-yŏn = 100 years of western costume in Korea (Chʻopʻan. ed.). Sŏul-si: Misul Munhwa (Art Culture). ISBN 9788991847590.
  15. Lee, Hana (1 March 2013). "'패션 한류'여성이 이끈다 (Women lead 'Fashion Hallyu')". Women Newspaper. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  16. "Andre Kim's real estate worth 30 billion won". the korea times. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  17. semi, Park. "Designer Lee Sang-bong "My age is thirty-seven years of my life"". Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  18. Park, Dong-mi (16 May 2013). "대한민국 파워 60인> 패션-디자인의 '포스트 앙드레김' 이상봉 디자이너 (power 60 of South Korea, Lee Sang Bong, post Andre Kim)". Herald economy. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  19. P, Yoni (2011). Steve Yonis Design Studio. book house. ISBN 9788956055473.
  20. Choi, Jung a (2013-03-27). "이효리-윤승아-현아-아이비, Steve J & Yoni P 2013 FW 컬렉션 참석(many stars had attended Steve J & Yoni P FW Collection.)". Sports World.
  21. Choi, Seung Geun (5 April 2013). "GS샵, 이석태 디자이너 두 번째 브랜드 론칭(GS shop,Designer Suctae Lee launched second brand)". tomato news.
  22. Cathy Rose A., Garcia (4 May 2010). "Fading foreign brands recycled: Some of them being exported to countries of origin". Korea Times.
  23. Yoo, Yang, Jee ho, Sunny (June 14, 2005). "Distributor to buy MCM brand". Joongang Daily. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  24. Yang, Sujin (2012). "Korea's Own Casual Clothing Brand: Bean Pole". Samsung Economic Research Institute. SERI Quarterly 1976-7250. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  25. 동미, 박 (2013-06-04). "한국남자, 패션을 공부하다(Korea man, study fashion(LG-fashion leads trend))". 헤럴드 경제(Herald economy). Retrieved 13 June 2013.
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