Seoul Fashion Week tries on new look: Inclusion and diversity

Embracing heritage and bridging the old and new are where timeless aesthetic sophistication starts, according to Park. “It’s not just fabrics we can weave anew,” said Park So-young, the designer who opened Seoul Fashion Week this year.

Choi Si-young

Choi Si-young

The Korea Herald


Models wear creations for Julycolumn as part of the fall-winter 2024 collection showcased during Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Feb. 1. PHOTO: YONHAP/ THE KOREA HERALD

February 8, 2024

SEOUL – The runway show that kicked off the five-day Seoul Fashion Week on Thursday last week was a dazzling prelude to the 20 runway collections that followed, each celebrating inclusion and diversity.

Designer Park So-young, also known as Sooy Park, delivered a resonating 24-minute presentation of her fall-winter 2024 collection, opening the biannual Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul. The 41-year-old designer said she was surprised to be asked to open Seoul Fashion Week in which she was taking part only for the third time.

“I picked by myself just under 300 guests. Clothes and models are important but so are those who get to see them. I wanted to reach out to as many diverse groups as possible,” Park said.

Park’s collection was a blend of the traditional and contemporary, aiming to sacrifice neither in striking a precarious balance. Worn-out shirts and monotone suits, the kind of clothes Park said trigger nostalgia, were reinvented in bold and vivid colors.

Embracing heritage and bridging the old and new are where timeless aesthetic sophistication starts, according to Park. “It’s not just fabrics we can weave anew,” Park said.

Lee Chung-chung, the iconic womenswear designer famed for unapologetic vibrancy and elegance, was blunter in making a statement on the runway, calling for the Olympic, or “All-lympic,” spirit.

An abstract painting of the five Olympic rings drawn by a performer with prosthetic arms kicked off LIE’s show, with some of the models coming out in wheelchairs.

“A sense of togetherness was what I wanted to communicate,” Lee said referring to the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games to be held in Paris in July and August.

During the 19-minute show, the juxtaposition of bold colors with soft features, which Lee does best, highlighted fluid silhouettes of loose jackets and pants. Lee labeled “sporty chic” the athletic-inspired line featuring modern tailoring.

“Perfectly Imperfect” — the mantra guiding LIE, an acronym for “life in expression” — was visually stylized on the DDP runway, without sacrificing the presentation at the expense of delivering a message.

Meanwhile, Im Seon-oc, known for her signature use of neoprene, refloated a concern that transcends boundaries: zero waste.

Long-sleeve tops and draped trousers with minimal embellishments demonstrated that the womenswear designer can deliver both sustainability and originality.

“Zero waste” starts when fashion “breaks free from cliches and wastefulness,” Im said, noting her commitment to neoprene will continue. Seeking practicality broadens the ways fashion can be sustainable and innovation is discovered along the way, according to Im.

Models wear creations for KwakHyunJoo Collection as part of the Fall-Winter 2024 Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Feb. 5. (Seoul City)

Blurring gender boundaries was KwakHyunJoo Collection. A unisex show of color palettes — from cream and pink to bright lime green and light blue — was accentuated in a variety of outerwear.

Boxy blazers and coats, slouchy crop tops, draped trousers and chiffon skirts captured the essence of Kwak’s portrayal of “attractive and sexy.” Distressed denim and sporty toggles added a layer of exuberance, making for a lush show that championed genderless fashion.

Origami was one inspiration, Kwak said of her collection presented at DDP.

Fifteen of the 21 runway shows were presented at DDP with six designer brands presenting their collections at SFactory in Seoul’s hip Seongsu-dong.

Among the more than 100 foreign buyers from 23 countries who attended Seoul Fashion Week were Shirin Rehman, buying manager at the luxury department store Harvey Nichols Kuwait, and her senior buyer Sara Allakkis.

“Some of the brands (at the show) are very relevant for our clients in Kuwait. We want to make sure we have dresses, suiting that is very unique and we’re finding very unique products here,” Rehman told The Korea Herald.

Rehman and Allakkis singled out Park So-young of Julycolumn.

“We really enjoyed her story, how niche her approach is, how she caters and looks at people for what they need,” Rehman said of her and Allakkis’ tour of Park’s showroom in Cheongdam-dong.

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