“Seoul” lends itself to some amazing puns: Seoulstruck, Seoul Searching, Seoulful, Seoul Sista, and….. well ok that’s all I got.
South Korea’s capital city hasn’t been as pronounced on the fashion radar as its neighbor Tokyo (Harajuku, Bape, Visvim, Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, even Uniqlo) but as of recent it’s caught my full attention.
JUUN.J was the gateway drug for me, personally speaking. I’d been aware of the experimental menswear brand since 2009, but it wasn’t until Spring 2012 that I was permanently captivated. As a shoe whore, it was unsurprisingly JUUN.J’s collaboration shoes with Kim Kiroic that did it for me: these fucking (excuse me, for I must cuss) shoes are so simply brilliant, they will forever hold their rightful place at the top of my Shoes I Need list.
Consistently creating menswear that mesmerizes the fickle fashion world, JUUN.J has attracted a spotlight on South Korea’s budding scene.
A scene which, in my opinion, includes the following brands that I just freaking need to talk about:
Solestruck’s women’s buyer Alex and I were trudging through Capsule (a huge trade show) when we literally stopped dead in our tracks after spotting a rack of KYE sweaters. We typically keep our heads down, staring only at footwear, when all of a sudden we were freaking out over these stupid amazing embossed chain print sweaters! And rightfully so. A finalist in the respected LVMH Prize competition (read: Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) and visited by Kanye and Carine Roitfeld, KYE’s shit smell like roses, and me likey. Me likey so much that we actually have something mischeveous up our sleeves heeheehee. See more.
D.Gnak by Kang.D
Don’t worry, I’m not only focusing on menswear in this list, but I must discuss D.Gnak by Kang.D. After graduating from Parsons in NYC, Dong-Jun Kang ventured back to Seoul to launch his tailored, unconventional designs in 2008. In such a short time, the brand has spawned a diffusion line “D by D” (from which Solestruck bought shoes way back in the day). Totally a personal pick, because this is exactly how I dress (in my dreams), but if D.Gnak by Kang.D can hold on to the details that make it different, it can really carve a niche in the saturated world of tailored menswear. See more.
Stylenanda is South Korea’s Nasty Gal. Or perhaps Nasty Gal is America’s Stylenanda? What even is a Nanda? However way you look at it, the message is clear: confident Korean women who are sexy, stylish, fun to be around and know it shop at Stylenanda. Rapidly sprouting retail stores all across Southeast Asia, this company’s got so much star power that even their lookbook models have spawned dedicated fans. One trip to their bustling flagship store in Hongdae and you realize this company isn’t a company as much as it is a way of life for some. See more.
Korea has its fair chunk o’weirdos though, too. Maybe you like to layer frumpy things. Maybe you like to add a chic hint of ugly into your ensemble? Well may I introduce you to Low Classic–the brand that churns out that special type of womenswear that I, as your skinny neighborhood gay, get a major fashion boner over. But let’s be real, I’m here for one reason: Low Classic’s flawless BAGS.
I was hungry. All I wanted was dinner. But my friend insisted we “have to check out this sunglasses store” before it closed. “This better be good,” I warned. The retail space I encountered that evening had my jaw on the FLOOR. Each room is transformed into a separate wonderland (sand dunes, black lights, ancient ruins, sunken ships, space shuttles, etc.) with the spaces continuously morphing with each new season. Curated throughout with the most impressive collection of unique, avant-garde sunglasses, this is definitely a store to keep on a Seoul shopping itinerary. See more.
87mm is a street brand founded by a trio of Korean male models (read: instant need). Responding to the thriving online scene, Wonjoong Kim, Chan Kim and Jiwoon Park combined their industry power and sought to open a webstore. To nobody’s surprise, the opening of the three trendsetters’ first physical store was followed by a complete ran-sack of available inventory in just four days. Not shy to vocalize its goals of expansion and commercial success, 87mm is one brand to keep on lookout. See More.
Pennant is the latest brand to hit Solestruck shores. We found this Korean brand through the glory of deep, aimless internet searches, and we are obsessed. Yes, it’s a fleeting obsession until the next shoes come, but right now we are really so down with these weird gangsta dumpers. The uppers and bandana wraps can be interchanged with fastening mechanisms all around the base. They’re stupid comfortable, and we love them. See more.
KEEP IT COMIN’ KOREA
images via: Naver, Tumblr