Korean Fashion in Full Force on Streets of Kathmandu
By Anil Giri
KATHMANDU - The trendy icons of Hollywood and Bollywood have been eclipsed in Nepal’s fashion world by the Korean overcoat and long boots.
The Generation X is fully clad in the latest popular Korean jackets and boots with a lofty Korean hairstyle. There has been a shift from the traditional Korean look to a new one, which has spread from the peninsula to the outside world.
Roshan Bhattrai, a Nepali youth who spent eight years in Korea before recently returning to Kathmandu, noticed a visible change in the streets - the inundation of Korean fashion.
Mufflers around necks, Adidas jackets, overcoats, jeans, long woolen tops and long boots are all fashion styles he saw on the streets of Seoul.
"I am really impressed by the Korean fashion craze here," he says. He noticed the similarities in the streets of Kathmandu and Seoul in this regard.
The big shopping malls in the Kathmandu valley are fully loaded with Korean attire. The medium-cost Korean attire is not as expensive compared with European and other Western fashion products. Attitude Ladies Fashion Ware, a local franchise that sells Korean clothes, just opened a new franchise at the pricey Kingsway shopping center in Kathmandu valley.
Korean products have also become the first choice in casual wear for every age group, Prabin Ranjitkar of UFO fashion wear said. "Customers are changing their attitude. Korean products are widely popular among all age groups as they maintain quality and style. So, most of today's youths follow the Korean style of fashion," said Ramesh Koirala, a seller of Korean clothing.
This winter, most of the jackets, wool sweaters and other attire such as long boots are Korean.
The low-cost clothes were mostly dominated by Chinese imports. Chinese clothes still maintain the biggest portion of low-cost clothes in the Nepalese market, and are reasonably cheap.
But those who have some spare cash are prepared to spend more. "It is a question of comfort and the sizing too. Nepalese and Korean people share a similar physique so most of the Korean clothes are a good fit and people love them," said Krishna Aryal, a fashion seller.
The trendy Korean clothes have wiped out the hip-hop look from the market. Ladies with long garlands around their necks and lads with hair covering their ears are an exact replica of the Korean Generation XC, which is also equally popular here.
Why are tastes changing? There is a growing awareness of Korea in Asia. Korean films, which are now exploding on the world market, including in Nepal, are one of the reasons, according to the traders. Popular Korean actor Song Hye-kyo has emerged as a fashion icon here.
Korean fashion is equally popular outside the Kathmandu valley. Youths from Pokhara and Dharan are the main purchasers of the latest Korean attire.
Nepalese find Korean clothes to be attractive, well-fitting, fashionable and affordable. Moreover, the Nepali traders who buy the clothes from international markets such as Bangkok and Hong Kong are fully geared to Korean fashion, said Aryal.
Korean films have a lot of influence on the Generation X. Subrat Maharjan, a die-hard fan of Korean films, has his hair cut like a Korean actor and imitates the styles too.
"That's why I am unique in my friend circles," Subrat said.
More than others, Korean trends are followed closely by boutiques and fashion designers who are busy replicating what they see in Korean films and fashion magazines.
Manju Banjara, a local fashion designer, is now receiving orders from her customers for exactly what the Korean actors and actresses wore in their latest films.
"I had no idea before. When I started to look at Korean films and fashion magazines, I started to get an idea of how do go with Korean fashion," she says.
Aryal added: "People are more loyal to fashion and trends than brands."
Although Korean fashion is popular in Nepal, Korean trends haven’t seeped into every sector of society.
Market leaders predict that Nepal is still a long way off from wanting Korean jewelry. If Korean jewelry enters the Nepalese market currently dominated by Western and Indian styles, it would come as a shock for many who are still surprised by the popularity of Korean films and fashion these days.