Fashion Week Starts in Seoul
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Fashionistas, put on your high heels and most stylish outfits, and make a beeline for Seoul Fashion Week.
Top Korean designers will be unveiling their 2010 Fall and Winter Collection at the Seoul Trade Exhibition Center (SETEC), Daechi-dong, southern Seoul, from Friday through April 1.
It's been 10 years since Seoul Fashion Week began, under the auspices of the Seoul Metropolitan Government which identified fashion as one of the industries to receive strong government support.
What started as a small local fashion festival in Seoul has now grown into an event with an eye firmly on the international market.
``Seoul Fashion Week has reached its 10th anniversary. The Seoul Fashion Week represents Korea's fashion market and Seoul Metropolitan Government will support Korea's designers to advance into the global market,'' said Choi Hang-do, director of the global economic headquarters at the Seoul Metropolitan Government, in a statement.
Seoul Fashion Week is not just about the gorgeous dresses or stylish outfits presented by Korean designers, but it also means big business.
Organizers said the 2010 Fall/Winter Seoul Fashion Week is now focusing on the global fashion market by merging creative fashion design and a business-type fashion system.
With a new focus on the business aspect of fashion, it is only fitting Seoul Fashion Week organizing committee is headed by Won Dae-yun, a former chief executive officer of Cheil Industries. In a statement, Won said the committee is striving to make Seoul Fashion Week an event that will promote global competitiveness.
Global competitiveness of Korean designers and brands is as important as ever, as they seek to carve a niche in the global fashion market.
To do this, organizers have adopted a business-friendly system that focuses on the buyers and the overseas market. Over 100 buyers from major agencies such as L'Eclaireur in France, Brown in London, United Arrow in Japan, as well as 30 foreign journalists and media, will attend Seoul Fashion Week.
Lauren Lewis, who runs the online fashion shop Glassworks Studios (www.glassworks-studios.com), has been to Seoul Fashion Week in recent years as a buyer.
``Seoul Fashion Week is a great platform for putting Korean designers on the map, but more needs to be done to encourage the larger Korean brands to participate and support the event. This might help to attract foreign buyers who already carry or are considering carrying those brands, which in turn could attract more foreign press,'' she told The Korea Times.
Seoul Fashion Week has also organized smaller presentations by designers, such as Lie Sang Bong, Moon Yong-hee, Juun.J., Sheen JeHee, Sujak, Steve J and Yoni P, and suecommabonnie exclusively for buyers.
To attract more public attention, the Seoul Fashion Fair is being held to showcase clothing, shoes, bags and accessories by Korean designers. Exhibition booths from 100 participating designers in Seoul Collection and Generation Next, as well as fashion companies will be set up at the SETEC Hall 3, through April 1.
Ultimately at the heart of this event, of course, is fashion. Seoul Fashion Week will feature seven days of shows by 15 men's wear designers and 30 women's wear designers.
Designers had to undergo strict screening before being chosen to present their collection at fashion week. They were selected after a qualitative evaluation of their domestic and overseas profits, distribution performance, marketing, brand awareness, originality and merchandise quality.
``Seoul Fashion Week is quickly becoming a place for passionate local fashion designers who dream of becoming global fashion design stars. By participating in Seoul Fashion Week, it is understood that designers, whose talent and business skills are acknowledged through this opportunity, have been able to broaden their activities and thus received a greater level of interest and participation from the industry,'' organizers said.
There is a more competitive mood in this season's fashion week, since the Seoul Metropolitan Government is starting a program that will help nurture Korean brands into global brands. Top 10 designers will be selected, through screening by the buyers, press and international PR agencies during Seoul Fashion Week. The selected designers will have a chance to participate in the famous Tranoi trade show held in Paris in June (men's wear) and October (women's wear).
The first two days of Seoul Fashion Week (March 26 to 27) will feature men's wear collections.
Kang Dong-jun will have the honor of kicking off fashion week with his D.gnak collection. Also on the first day, there will be a series of shows by Han Sang-hyuk (MVIO), Song Hye-myung (Dominic's Way), Kim Seo-ryong, Ko Tae-yong (Beyond Closet), Choi Bum-suk (General Idea), Lee Ju-young (Resurrection), Song Zio, and Kim Seok-won (Andy & Debb Homme).
On Saturday, there are six shows from Lee Jeong-jae (BON), Jung Du-young (Fahrenheit Homme), Seo Eun-gil (G.I.L. Homme), Park Sung-chul (Line or Circle), Yang Hee-min (Vandalist by Vandal) and Chang Kwang-hyo (Caruso).
Eyes will be on some designers whose clothing lines have been attracting attention overseas. Lee Ju-young is making waves with her edgy Resurrection designs, which have been worn by the likes of Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas.
Ko Tae-yong, who created the brand Beyond Closet in 2008, has expanded overseas, with his clothes now available in New York, Canada and Russia.
The much-anticipated women's wear collections begin on Sunday, with Lee Doii presenting a fresh new collection for her brand Doii Paris. Also on Sunday are shows by Kwak Hyun-joo for Gissen, Lee Suk-tae for KAAL E.SUKTAE and Kim Jae-hyun for Jardin de chouette.
Monday will feature designers Hong Eun-ju (Enzuvan), Han Song (Troa), Im Seon-oc, Park Byung-kyu (how and when) and Gee Choon-hee (Miss Gee Collection).
This season also marks the return of the Seoul Fashion Artists Association (SFAA) to Seoul Fashion Week. SFAA designers Ro Seung-un, Park Youn-soo, Jinteok and Bakangchi will be unveiling their fall-winter designs on March 30. The next day, it will be the turn of Rubina, Park Dong-jun, Shin Jang-kyoung, Kim Dong-soon, Sul Yun-hyoung, Oh Eun-hwan and Choi Yen-ok. Song Jain will also have a show on the same day.
The last day, April 1 will feature collections by Lee Youn-jung (Duchess by Leeyounjung), Kim Chong-wol (Petillante), Choi Myoung-uk, Choi Bok-ho, Kim Young-joo and Son Jung-wan.
New Generation of Designers
A preview of the new breed of Korean designers at Generation Next will be held at Kring, Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, March 27-29.
The 12 designers chosen to showcase their designs are all part of the Generation Next Promotion Program at the Dongdaemun Fashion Production Studio, supported by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
Designers include Choi Ji-hyung (Johnny Hates Jazz), Ju Y-A (MoMA by YA), Kim Sun-ho and Park Jung-eun (Groundwave), Hong Hye-jin (Studio-K), Lee Seung-hee (Leyii), Kim Jae-hwan (ALANI), Song Seung-ryl (8C11C), Uhm Mi-ri (Giliyate), Han Dong-woo (Irony Porn(o)), Yoon Se-na (Softcore), Joo Hyo-sun (Paul & Alice) and Kim Hong-bum (CRES.E.DIM).
Special Designer Sale
During fashion week, CJ Mall (www.cjmall) will be highlighting participating designers' brands on the online shop.
On the last day of fashion week, a special sale will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the SETEC Hall 3. Some 50 businesses will sell top-quality fashion items at lower prices. Three percent of the profits from this event, as well as ticket sales will be donated to the Seoul Welfare Foundation and the Seoul Youth Employment Foundation.