Fashion leaders donate in style
Big names of Korean street fashion hold flea market
By Noh Hyun-gi
When Hong Suk-woo, fashion journalist and photographer of the blog “your boyhood,” heard about the massive, tsunami-triggered earthquake in northern Japan last March, he knew he had to contribute.
“Japan is our neighbor and I also have friends who work there, so the impact it had on me was quite significant,” he said.
Three weeks later, on April 9, Hong and his friends Kang Min-koo and Jang Suk-jong held their first charity flea market, Fifty Seoul, at Social Club in Garosugil, Seoul.
As the name suggests, Fifty Seoul donates 50 percent of the profits from each market to charity. The first event raised about two million won for the Japan Relief fund through UNICEF. The fund was used to aid children in the affected area.
Since then Fifty Seoul has been hosting fashion flea markets every month, except November, with about 20 sellers, usually people in the industry offering vintage goods, to raise money. The fund from the second event went to Do Dream Foundation for youth with disabilities.
All three organizing members have a distinct presence in the Korean fashion scene. Hong’s blog is the first to archive Seoul street fashion credibility similar to The Sartorialist, a widely popular street fashion blog. Jang is the editor-in-chief of “Crack Your Wardrobe,” Korea’s first street fashion magazine. Kang is the director of fashion brand, Tizza.
“We could have done other things like doing community service somewhere, but this is what we do and what we enjoy,” said Hong when The Korea Times visited the eighth market held in Hongdae, northern Seoul on Dec.4.
In their first collaboration market with two male fashion brands, Customellow and BOY,myself, it was the largest event to date and was packed with fashionistas.
“I am so happy to see so many people. We had been reluctant to collaborate with well-known shops because we didn’t want to be a mere promotional platform. But I think we will reconsider our decision as this will raise a lot of money for charities and some sellers are sincere in their contributions,” said Hong.
Roughly 10 million won raised from the event will be donated to Eden I vill, a children’s home in Seoul.
Customellow, which sold sample products at discounted prices, donated all its earnings for the day.
Not all participants are as generous according to Hong. “At other events, there were sellers who only donated 10,000 won when they clearly made more sales,” he said.
Fifty Seoul has been collecting the funds from the third to seventh market because the individual amount is too small.
“We (the organizers) are considering ways to emphasize our intention to help those in need. I think we need to work with more persuasive (charity) organizations to influence people’s perspective on our motivation.”
Hong is no stranger to fashion flea markets for charity. Working at Daily Projects, a recognized fashion concept space, he initiated the Sunday Flea Market in 2007. The event collected 10,000 won as a participation fee from sellers and donated to Unicef.
The market discontinued after he left the company. A current employee at the Sunday Flea Market confirmed that it no longer donates to Unicef.
Aside from being a treasure box of fashion statements, Fifty Seoul is a rare opportunity to shop to your heart’s content and feel good about the money being spent.
“If you buy something at our market, you are making a direct donation. It’s a great opportunity to translate your shopping into charity,” Hong explained.
Those who wish to sell at Fifty Seoul should follow https://twitter.com/fiftyseoul for updates on future markets and email email@example.com to apply.