Everyone knows Korean beauty products have made a major impact on our skincare routines. From cute sheet masks to supercharged serums, the world is obsessed with Korea’s scientifically advanced (and adorably packaged) cosmetics.
Now, it’s time to turn our attention towards the country’s trending fashion. Thanks to major retailers like Nordstrom and Opening Ceremony, we’ve been given access to some of the most popular Korean ready-to-wear and accessory lines favored by K-pop stars like CL and Chanel muse G-Dragon. “There’s a youthfulness, there’s a really exciting energy around Seoul fashion week right now and everything that’s coming out of there, and that’s influenced from so many different things,” Olivia Kim, VP of Creative Projects at Nordstrom, tells Allure. “We talk about celebrity style and pop culture here, but it is next level in Korea. The internet and social makes the whole world accessible, so now there is a broader audience—or really a global audience—watching.”
As for what makes Korean fashion so different, the pace at which its consumers absorb the latest products is faster than you can say “trend.” Right now, there’s a heavy focus on easy-to-wear pieces and streetwear that’s been made popular by the country’s burgeoning entertainment industry and its bevy of stylish stars. Kim, who’s been supporting Korean brands through pop-ups and product launches at Nordstrom, says, “You could see a jacket on a Korean soap star and that jacket will sell out in five minutes. [The consumers] are open to the idea of ‘what’s happening right now, we’re going to embrace it, we’re going to love it, we’re going to kill it, and then we’re going to move onto the next thing.’”
Seoul fashion week will take place later this month, featuring emerging brands like Nohant and KYE. In the States, Nordstrom will launch a Korean fashion pop-up—a third in a series that’s focused on K-beauty and accessories in the past—on March 31. To prepare you for these two occasions, read up on the 10 of the trendy Korean fashion brands to know now.
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Streetwear darling Kathleen Kye, who’s studied at London’s Central Saint Martins, got her start in menswear in 2011. Her youth-driven style has attracted some of the biggest names in Korean and American music industry, including Rihanna, 2NE1, Rita Ora, and G-Dragon. Her collections heavily focus on sports-luxe aesthetic (for Spring 2017, she sent down an array of corsets, fishnet tights, and neon-hued bomber jackets) with a fun injection of bright and bold prints like snake and paisley. kyefashion.com
Kuho’s aesthetic is similar to that of Tibi and J.Crew—wearable basics along with some quirkier, trend-driven pieces. The brand may be new to the global market, but it’s well-established in its home country—with over 66 stores, it generates roughly $90 million dollar in business in Korea. Headed by designer Hyunjung Kim, Kuho is known for its range of sporty yet ladylike tailoring. Thanks to its recent expansion to the States, you can now shop the brand at select Nordstrom stores and lanecrawford.com.
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A Piece of Cake
Just like its name would suggest, A Piece of Cake (APOC) is full of vibrantly colored apparel reminiscent of your favorite confectionary delights (its popular corduroy caps even come wrapped up inside a cake box). Worn by K-pop stars such as Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon, this streetwear label is known for its retro-inspired pieces like checkered shorts, sweatshirts printed with gummy bears, and colorful, purposely mismatched socks. apieceofcake.co.kr
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In Korea, it’s common for couples to wear matching looks head-to-toe. Charm’s plays into that aesthetic by offering everything from his-and-her matching puffer jackets to logo tees and iPhone cases. The label recently collaborated with K-pop star Key of boy band Shinee and street style phenom Irene Kim on a 90’s-inspired sportswear capsule. For those located in New York City, you can find the brand at Fig in Brooklyn. store-charms.com