If your bathroom shelves have long since been taken over by Korean skincare products like sheet masks and facial essences, you'll understand why we think of the country as something of an oracle when it comes to forward-thinking trends. The same goes for fashion—if we're feeling a little uninspired, a quick perusal through the new-in section of online K-shopping mecca W Concept never fails to alert us to new brands and looks that are trickier to find at American or European retailers. Plus, prices are never astronomical (always a plus in our books). To get a better idea of the trends Korean girls are actually shopping, we asked merchandiser Sohyun Joo to walk us through five of the biggest ones right now.
Below, get her take on why raffia, feminine silhouettes, and kitschy details are a hit with the country's most stylish residents—and shop the trends from homegrown brands.
Raffia Accessories (Especially Hats)
"Koreans are very concerned with skincare and put a lot of effort into maintaining bright, clear skin," our expert tells us. "This oversize hat trend follows this fashion in that they tend to prefer covering their faces in the summer, as opposed to tanning."
Kitschy, Colorful Designs
"Feminine, girlish designs with witty details [are popular now]," says Sohyun Joo. "Korean women tend to prefer cute, charming, youthful designs with cheeky details and graphics. As opposed to the more contemporary neutral colors that have become more popular in modern [Western] fashion, Korean women enjoy combining bright colors, patterns, and bright colorblock details. These looks are inspired by many fashion influencers in Korea, primary within the K-pop scene."
Light Linen Fabrics and Puffed Sleeves
"Femininity is the primary factor when it comes to fashion among Korean women," says Sohyun Joo. "Charming V-neck, button-down dresses, and puffed sleeves are very popular. Think vintage silhouettes combined with bright colorways."
Bright, Bold Tinted Wire-Frame Sunglasses
"Retro colored lenses are back on trend, but they're particularly popular in Korea. Koreans veer toward colorful, bright fashion, and this trend has become very overt," our expert tells us.
Cute Characters and Collaborations
"Incorporating fun, humorous graphic tees, and handbags embroidered with Disney themes—these childhood characters are revitalized in the Korean fashion scene, alongside cute emoji earrings, rings, and necklaces," Sohyun Joo tells us.