For 10 years Concept Korea has been a platform for emerging Korean designers to gain the opportunity to show their collections in New York to press and buyers that they typically wouldn't have the resources and infrastructure to reach otherwise. For their tenth anniversary show at New York Fashion Week, the organization continued their commitment to bringing emerging designers to the international stage featuring collections from Lie, Leyii, and Iise.
Designer Chung Chung Lee of Lie, whose participation in Concept Korea's show marked his fifth show at New York Fashion Week. Lee says that over the past decade Korean fashion has changed very quickly and a lot because, "Many designers who have studied all over the world have been influenced by Korean fashion, and buyers all over the world are loving Korean fashion."
Much of this influence and new found love from the global community is thanks to Concept Korea's efforts which have led to the popularity of Korean fashion among celebrities and more fashion editors and stylists using Korean brands in editorials. "Editors and buyers think Korean fashion is really trendy, and they are reflecting the trends well in their work," Lee said to FashionUnited.
With New York as one of his major markets, Lee told FashionUnited that showing at New York Fashion Week was important to his business because, "We have a store in Meatpacking, so everything is connected. Showing here and meeting the retailers will help build my business and connect with consumers."
Terrence and Kevin Kim, the designers and founders of Korean streetwear brand Iise, have two advantages to their growing business, one being the support of Concept Korea, and two being launching a Korean streetwear brand as streetwear continues to be king. Korean culture has also continued to find its way into the mainstream, which has helped brands like theirs flourish. "What started was Korean music and Korean food culture, and that spread first," Terrence said to FashionUnited. "Now with the Korean government supporting fashion brands, this is the next initiative they are trying to push to help our culture spread around the world."
He added that, "Customers are responding to these types of products because they are something different, and people are always trying to find the next big thing. There's a lot of good attention on Seoul, Korea right now and hopefully these brands can be taken to the next level."
Collectively the goal of many Korean brands is to build a global presence. With Seoul being such a small market, the challenges many brands there face is trying to reach the press and buyers in Paris and New York. Terrence told FashionUnited that the reason programs like Concept Korea are so important is because, "For brands like us, who are small and up-and-coming, there's no way we would've been able to afford showing at New York Fashion Week. This is our third show at New York Fashion Week with Concept Korea and it's been an amazing opportunity."
Designer Seunghee Lee of Leyii shares Terrence's sentiment and told FashionUnited, "Showing in New York will have a positive impact for my brand because it is a bigger market. There more shops and people. All global cultures are found in New York, and if people like it, there's lots of opportunities for Korean fashion to have success across all cultures."
With Seoul slowly developing into a fashion capital, Korean fashion only stands to see further growth in the U.S. market. Concept Korea is just the first stepping stone for many of these brands.photos: courtesy of Purple PR