What it lacks in longevity, Seoul Fashion Week makes up for in youthful exuberance and unencumbered urban chic that dares bystanders to join in or stand jaw-opened. Like the fabric of so many modern Korean success stories, Seoul fashion has seen the world’s chips and raised them – as evidenced by the bold individuality of 2019 Fall/Winter Seoul Fashion Week.
This biannual event launched in 2000, as a new generation emerged from the ruins of the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s, and with it a fresh attitude and Korean pop culture. Since then, it has been striding towards its ambitious aim of leading the fashion world alongside the ‘big four’ of New York, Paris, London, and Milan.
The F/W edition was held at the entrancing Zaha Hadid-designed Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), which has been Seoul Fashion Week’s home since 2014. Built by Samsung C&T’s Engineering & Construction Group, DDP’s sweeping silver curves are a fitting mecca for fashionistas to flock to twice a year.
Some of the most dynamic designs from home and abroad graced DDP last month. Among the local brands represented was IISE, which aims for a “street interpretation of Korean heritage.” The creative duo behind IISE, brothers Kevin and Terrence Kim, earned funding, mentorship, and their debut runway presentation slot at Seoul Fashion Week after winning Samsung C&T Fashion Group’s 2018 sfdf awards.
Every year, the Samsung Fashion & Design Fund offers young designers and brands the chance to achieve global prominence. The upper-case SFDF competition was launched in 2005 to discover and sponsor talented young Korean designers; its lower-case sfdf counterpart has been running since 2017, and welcomes entries from brands that are no more than five years old.
IISE helped kick off day one of Seoul Fashion Week, in the same city where all of its pieces are produced, after creating a buzz about their collection at February’s New York Fashion Week. IISE’s wide range of aesthetics combined with local fabrics and techniques, including Hanbok hybrids, Bojagi stitching, Hangeul print, and even face masks for a new urban generation.
When it built DDP, Samsung C&T’s Engineering & Construction cut 45,133 unique aluminum panels to realize Zaha Hadid’s neo-futurist vision. It is the largest 3D amorphous structure in the world.
DDP’s otherworldly architecture has become an icon of the city’s fashion district and is synonymous with Seoul Fashion Week.