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Seoul Fashion Week’s Hybrid Season Draws to a Close

Autumn/Winter 2022 looks from Painters.
Autumn/Winter 2022 looks from Painters. (Painters)

The South Korean capital’s Autumn/Winter 2022 shows concluded today after six days of events, which took place both online and in person.

Seoul Fashion Week is no stranger to digital events, and has hosted several virtual seasons since the pandemic broke out. In October 2021, views of digital runway shows increased 226 percent from the previous season, while social media views were up a whopping 531 percent, likely a result of the event appointing Kpop boy band Exo’s Kai its ambassador.

This season, its face was Lee Jung-jae, the star of Netflix’s Squid Game — a signal of the event’s ongoing mission to help Korean designers ride the Korean wave (hallyu). “Seoul Fashion Week will gain momentum to become the fifth significant fashion week in the world,” said Natasha Kim, the general manager of the event.

An intense, now abating wave of Covid-19 threatened this season’s festivities, but organisers, brands and showgoers stuck to their guns. For most brands, the physical shows at Seoul’s Museum of Craft Art were their first in two years. On Youtube and TikTok, views of shows was up 200 percent from last season by the third day, and social media views were up 200 percent overall.

And for the first time, the event launched its first pavilion at Paris’ Tranoï trade show, which took place earlier in the month during Paris Fashion Week. Korean labels EENK, Lie, Wnderkammer and Doucan showcased their wares and represented their home market; shows were later broadcasted online throughout Seoul Fashion Week.

Festivities kicked off with a runway debut by celebrity favourite Bonbom, which showcased designer Bonbom Jo’s edgy take on both the zoot suits of 1930′s America and Sukeban, a 1960s Japanese subculture revolving around delinquent girl gangs. Pleated mini skirts, mesh tank tops, boxy tweed suits and oversized bows defined Jo’s nostalgic take on rebellious school uniforms with a Harajuku twist.

The focus was largely on everyday clothes shoppers would want to wear, from Lie’s take on après ski to Seokwoon Yoon’s relaxed yet sculptural take on suiting. On this front, newcomer Painters went against the grain with a collection rich in textures, earth-toned prints and exaggerated silhouettes that refreshingly resembled art installations more than wearable fashion.

Aside from streaming shows on Youtube’s Fashion page for the first time, organisers appealed to shoppers through an on-site exhibition, which allowed the general public to buy pieces from over 100 local brands at a discounted price. The interest in and status of the event is increasing as Korean culture continues to take over the globe, said Kim. “We plan to discover better designers, grow them into world-class brands, and make [people] around the world focus on Seoul Fashion Week.”

Learn more:

How Korea Became a Lifeline for Cool Young Designers Everywhere

It was easy to get distracted by the catwalk spectacle at last month’s Seoul Fashion Week, but the city’s real stars are its retailers who keep young international designers afloat.

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