It may sound repetitive at this point, but Korean fashion deserves so much more of the spotlight. While Seoul may not be cemented as a bona fide member of the big four like Paris, London, Milan, and New York just yet, the influx of talent emerging the city is certainly making a case for its inclusion. What sets Korean fashion apart as its own brand of unique fashion flavor is its propensity for experimentation and the unconventional. While there's no shortage of Korean brands that stick to the classic aesthetic, and do it well, the latest crop of rising stars catching the industry's attention all have their own unique spin.
Thanks in part to retailers like W Concept, Net-a-Porter, and MatchesFashion, the creativity of South Korea's design community has been able to reach all over the globe. Today, we're showcasing eight Korean fashion labels to put on your radar—especially if you enjoy the thrill of unearthing new cool brands to shop. If you claim to be in the know when it comes to this industry, then you'll want to get really familiar with them.
The buzzy new brand on the block, TheOpen Product has recently emerged as a fashion-crowd favorite, appearing on everyone from Kendall Jenner to Instagram It girl Matilda Djerf. The label makes great knits, but like most of its pieces, it's far from conventional. Think of bold cutouts and vibrant colors in tonal shades that really pop. Among the brand's signature pieces is an oversize bomber jacket that I personally had saved in my tabs for weeks.
Combine edgy with a dash of sophistication and you'll get South Korean brand Andersson Bell. Launched in 2014, the label melds the Scandinavian fashion aesthetic with trend-forward Korean sensibilities. After laying eyes on its black-and-brown color-block skirt last year, I couldn't stop bookmarking everything else from the collection. With an Asics collab and Net-a-Porter partnership under its belt, Andersson Bell is primed for an even bigger international presence.
Fashion girl–approved label Osoi is already a name to know within editor circles, and we're sure you too will love its modern twist on classic shoes and handbags. Lifting its name for the Japanese word for "slow," the word perfectly sums up Osoi's approach of thoughtfully created accessories that never go out of style. We're not talking about your typical tote bag or satchel—each design feels thoroughly fresh like its puffy platform slides or moon-shaped bag. At the same time, the designs aren't so gimmicky that they're irrelevant after a season.
Taking couture to new imaginative heights is Paris-based label Kimhekim. After studying and working at Balenciaga in the French city, designer Kiminte Kimhekim used his skills to launch his own label. Kimhekim continually draws inspiration from his Korean upbringing, as evidenced in his work, for instance updating the traditional Hanbok with voluminous multicolored tulle. A visit to the designer's Instagram page is like a feast for the eyes, offering a glimpse into Kimhekim's dynamic workshop of intricate couture creations.
I've never been to Seoul, but a destination always on my list if I ever travel to the city has been Rare Market. A cool designer boutique à la Dover Street Market and Opening Ceremony (R.I.P), the store was started by Dami Kwon and Jessica Jung, opening in the Gangnam district. Fast forward to a couple of years later, and now the duo has set off on another venture, creating the punk-meets-streetwear brand We11done. Still pumping out seasonal collections, fun logo shirts, and cool knits are a few of its signature pieces. For We11done's spring/summer lineup, the brand played filtered through a few themes like unconventional layering and dramatic loose-fitting silhouettes.
After looking at 1064 Studio's latest collection, all I could say to myself was "Wow." Each piece beautifully represents the fluidity and organic forms of nature that's it's almost hard to believe that it's a piece of metal. Based in South Korea, the brand's name stems from the melting point of gold, but in addition to gold-plated brass, 1064 Studio is also known for its dainty pearl pieces.
If you're just getting to know about Hyein Seo, consider yourself late to the party, but it's still not too soon to acclimate yourself with the cutting-edge designer. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (Vincent Van Gogh and Martin Margiela are alumni), Seo is somewhat of a veteran for her young age creating her eponymous label fresh off of graduation in 2014. Season after season, she continues to push the boundaries with her designs, and S/S 21 featured a series of complex cutouts and necklines that feel like cyberpunk-core.
It seems like a new footwear brand pops up every day, but trust us, you'll want to keep tabs on this one. Yuji sort of feels like an under-the-radar hidden gem, with 15,000 followers on Instagram and few collections under its belt, we can sense Yui is on the verge of blowing up. The brand's shoes can be described as if The Row and Margiela had a baby, mixing classic utility with whimsical silhouettes albeit at a lower price point. It's just available to shop at W concept right now within the U.S., but give it time and you'll be seeing a lot more of it.