A model walks down the runway at SLING STONE by designer Park Jong-chul at Seoul Fashion Week, Monday.
/ Courtesy of Seoul Fashion Week
By Grace Kim
At the menswear shows from Monday to Tuesday at the Fall/Winter 2012 Seoul Fashion Week, one type of gentleman came to mind: a 50-something who looks as if he were in his 30s.
The tailored armies marchinng down the catwalk in slate blue, olive and black represented yet another evolution in the Korean metrosexual.
They stand apart from their Western counterparts with an eager use of BB cream, and distinguish themselves from younger Korean “flower boys” with substantial purchasing power. These men are driving the growth in upper class menswear and men’s skincare.
Korean men have been outspending women on clothing since 2008. In 2010, the menswear market recorded 7.27 trillion won in sales, compared to 7.1 trillion won for women’s clothing. Additionally, Korea is the top market for male skincare products, according to Euromonitor International, a global market research firm.
Which begs the question, why devote just a mere third of Fashion Week for menswear given the volume and the potential of this market?
Although the young “flower boys” and fashionistas fill up the seats at the fashion shows, it’s more likely the middle-aged and fabulous man who will take a designer suit
or leather jacket off the rack and take it home.
So, while Kang Dong-jun offered up this season a quirky and fun Charlie-Chaplin theme to his line, D. GNAK by KANG. D, the classic black suits and theatrical capes may not speak to this new group of middle-aged men.
On the other hand, SLING STONE by Park Jong-chul, adds Edwardian romantic details to crisp modern tailoring for looks that can incorporated to the well-groomed middle aged men, whose fashion aesthetic can generally be described as Brioni-meets-Alexander McQueen. His exposed asymmetric zipper skinny pants or layered vests could easily be pieces in a man’s closet.
Along that line, Song Hye-myung’s Dominic’s Way offers a lot of rock ’n’ roll with skinny leather pants and animal draped smock jackets paired with paint-splashed silk blousons. Perhaps too much rock and not enough roll.
Resurrection by Lee Ju-young, on the other hand, sent beautifully textured knits with various lengths of asymmetric wrapped pants down the runway. The popped collars of the jackets and quilted leather paneling provided just the right pitch for the older man who desires to dress tastefully youthful.
Designers who can capture the youthful spirit while maintaining the requisite level of sophisticated classical tastes of these new middle-aged men may find themselves financially well-rewarded.
Grace Kim is a contributing writer for The Korea Times.