The 5 Designers to Know From Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2020

Following last season’s announcement that its long-term director Jung Kuho would be stepping down, the future of Seoul Fashion Week felt somewhat in flux. Initially, there was concern that Jung’s blueprint to establish Seoul as a serious player in the global fashion scene (see: the success of brands like Blindness and pushBUTTON) would be replaced with something more consumer-facing. But this season it seemed, reassuringly, to be business as usual.

One change was the growing sense that many of the highlights were taking place outside of the colossal central exhibition hall of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza—the futuristic, Zaha Hadid-designed Möbius strip of steel and concrete that plays host to the majority of Seoul Fashion Week’s shows and events. In the DDP’s basement car park, which mostly accommodates emerging brands, a more modest scale allowed designers to express their vision holistically; meanwhile, the inclusion of a handful of off-site presentations also gave the schedule a much-needed sense of variety.

If Seoul Fashion Week has one challenge on its hands, it will be wooing back some of the designers who—perhaps put off by the more bombastic, commercial shows that tend to headline here—have chosen to move off-schedule. To solve this, offering a greater range of formats and show spaces and a more edited timetable wouldn’t be a bad place to start; but in the meantime, there was still plenty on the main itinerary to keep editors and buyers making the biannual trip to this style capital. Here, the designers to know from Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2020.

RE;CODE

One of the topics that the East Asian market is beginning to grapple with is sustainability. Ever the pioneer, Seoul placed itself at the forefront of this conversation by hosting the city’s first Sustainable Fashion Summit as one of the week’s banner events. It isn’t just about good intentions, though, and thankfully one of the most compelling brands on the schedule had ethical production as its central tenet. The appropriately named designer collective RE;CODE provided a fresh take on the issue of responsible design with a distinctly Korean, mix-and-match spirit.

At an off-site exhibition-cum-presentation on an island in the center of Seoul’s Han River, visitors were guided through rails of deadstock suiting and office wear, and invited to watch seamstresses refashion the garments into new pieces, the results of which hung on rails as one-offs. There was a strong aesthetic vision here too, with the patch-worked shirting recalling the appeal of the reconstituted wardrobe staples sold by Comme des Garçons under their SHIRT diffusion. A particularly novel service offered by RE;CODE is the ability to bring in old garments of your own and have them remade into new pieces under its RE;COLLECTION initiative. It was this balance of elegance and intelligence that made the label one of the week’s highlights.

Minjukim

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