Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
SEOUL, KOREA– “The weather is pretty weird today,” said a guy in front of me to his friend while we were waiting to enter the MVIO show on the first day at Seoul Fashion Week. He was right–it was nearly 74 degrees and sunny on a Friday morning late in October. I was told that it has been a strange year for weather in Seoul, as it had been in most of the world. But this conversation wasn’t meager chitchat. What the man was really concerned about, according to my interpreter/fashion student Etty Kim, was that he had on the right clothes.
Dressed in a red plaid single-breasted jacket, blue chambray shirt, light grey slim jeans, and red leather boots, the Seoul Arts University student had scored tickets to fashion week through his school. One of his friends wore a black leather bomber jacket and black crew neck t-shirt. The other had on a faded jean jacket, black shirt, black sweatshirt tied around the waist, black jeans, a black fedora and purple leather boots. The styles on display were precise and subtle without any overt statements. There was a prevailing sense of personal style and individuality that seemed to override any requisite for trends. In fact, I noticed the same prevailing sense of individual style among the late night revelers who packed the streets, nightclubs and bars in the Jeonju University and Seoul University districts and around the shopping areas.
Held at SETEC–the Seoul trade and convention center near the underground Coex Mall–Seoul Fashion Week is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. What started with 12 designers coming together to show at Central City Millenium Hall in October 2000 has now spawned an entire week of shows featuring more than 55 runways in conjunction with a trade fair for buyers. The first two days of Seoul collections were devoted solely to menswear shows, something that even Fashion Week in New York currently lacks.
Like what I saw on the streets, there’s a pervasive individuality common in each of these men’s designer shows. Overall, the men’s shows were quite strong and inventive–I would say there’s a mood here similar to Paris men’s shows a few years back when there were a great deal of energy coming from younger and more experimental designers, as well as from the bigger brands. Each of these young Korean designers seemed focus on their own work rather than being preoccupied with setting trends. That’s a good thing in this age of fast fashion when designer fashion often feels, well, less like designer fashion. (I.e. clothes with a strong point of view.)
The evidence of this individual approach was abound on the Seoul runway shows.