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Sustainability, recycling continue to take center stage at Seoul Fashion Week

Korean brands suggest flowy fabric, ruffles and a lot of patterns for spring-summer trend

Sept. 10, 2023 - 17:33 By Kim Da-sol
Models walk on the catwalk during the PARTsPARTs 2024 spring-summer collection show at Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Sept. 7. (SFW)

Seoul Fashion Week, the biggest and single most important fashion event here that has continued since 2000, held 2024 spring-summer shows that ended Saturday with the participation of 30 local brands.

SFW, held twice a year, shifted its schedule for the first time to March and September starting this year -- a month ahead of other major fashion weeks in Paris and Milan -- to grab global buyers’ attention and set trends with Seoul’s unique fashion caliber and potential.

This year showcased Seoul Collection shows from 22 top designers, Generation Next shows for eight up-and-coming designers, and a show by Metrocity, a corporate brand.

Sustainable fashion in a wider spectrum

Keeping up with global trends in fashion such as sustainable and ethical production using recycled materials, many Korean brands put sustainability at the forefront of the spring-summer SFW.

PARTsPARTs, a womenswear brand led by Yim Seon-ok since 2011, unveiled classic, practical and elegant pieces using neoprene.

As the brand advocates zero waste fashion, this season’s collection focuses on the sustainable development and value of fashion through design technology with a theme of “Now and Futurism.”

“(The latest collection) goes beyond eco-friendly materials and concepts using high-tech technology. The collection harmonizes basic items that are essential for everyday life in a unique, pleasant and classic way,” designer Yim explained.

PARTsPARTs believes using one simple material like neoprene, which doesn’t wrinkle easily, reduces a lot of waste during clothes making, not to mention the stock inventory, according to the CEO.

PARTsPARTs also minimized sewing by using invisible tape that melts at 160 degrees Celsius, to offer a minimal and neat silhouette that blends well with the spring-summer collection's sky blue and pastel pink hues.

A model walks down the catwalk for the Saint Mill 2024 spring-summer collection show at Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, Sept. 6. (SFW)

While PARTsPARTs looks deeper into the way the clothes are made, Saint Mill, a brand led by Myung You-seok, came up with specially manufactured fabrics using discarded plastic bottles, fishing nets and even air collected from steel mill smoke – the first-ever such attempt by a Korean fashion brand.

Saint Mill’s latest collection focused on translating waste collected from land, sea and air into fabric and further into sustainable fashion.

“With a (fabric) composition that utilizes zero waste, we think about the Earth (as a place) with limited resources,” Myung explained.

“In order to make Korean design more acceptable globally, our collection presents fresh and surprising Korean details every season.”

Using these materials, Saint Mill’s collection showed off boxy silhouettes such as boyfriend jackets and long-length tailor jackets with bold stitches. Knee-length dresses that create a fun silhouette near the trimming was also noticeable.

A model walks down the catwalk during the 2024 spring-summer collection show for Vegan Tiger, held at Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Sept. 8. (SFW)

Vegan Tiger, Korea’s first vegan fashion brand that was established in 2015, continued to bring its kitschy, mix-and-match style along with cruelty-free materials in its latest collection.

With the theme “Rewilding,” Vegan Tiger captured a sense of hope and fairy-tale details through pattern-packed clothes on the catwalk.

“The collection, which expresses the subtle beauty between harmony and dissonance in Vegan Tiger's way, captures efforts to showcase near-perfect sustainable fashion. This season, we used 70 percent nature-friendly materials and 30 percent recycling materials,” Vegan Tiger CEO and designer Yang Yoon-ah said.

The collection's color palette, inspired by nature and sunsets, picked lyrical floral patterns and urban Western-style looks to reinterpret wild images of nature. Patterns were created through digital prints and an eco-friendly dye method that doesn't use water.

Other highlights

What was noticeable about the spring-summer collections is the use of patterns like flower and prints, mostly done on flowy materials like chiffon and ruffles. Brands like Maison Nica, LIE and Kwan Hyun Joo Collection matched avant-garde silhouettes with bold and elegant patterns.

Masion Nica, led by designer Monica Koh, featured a variety of material combinations, colors and patterned details based on her childhood memories of cutting tablecloths to making doll clothes. Her spring-summer collection focused on bringing the metaphors of Dionysus, the mythical Greek god of grapes and abundance, and King Midas, the mythical Greek who turned everything he touched into gold, by putting gold and leopards as key motifs for a bold and luxurious feel.

Models walk on catwalk during Maison Nica 2024 spring-summer collection at Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Sept. 6. (SFW)
The 2024 spring-summer collection for Kwak Hyun Joo Collection is held at Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Sept. 6. (SFW)
The 2024 spring-summer collection for LIE is held at Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Sept. 6. (SFW)

Kwak Hyun Joo Collection’s theme of the Velveteen Rabbit -- based on a British children's book character about a stuffed rabbit who desires to become real -- to express warmth, vivacity and happiness were recreated into rabbit-patterned shirt, skirt and denim upcycling to express adorable but edgy look.

LIE also combined blue and red hues in its latest collection's color palette, giving the feel of ever-changing sunset through flowy skirts and pattern-filled jackets.

Meanwhile, this year saw 127 overseas buyers from 27 countries participating in the Trade Show as part of the SFW, including buyers from Printemps in France, Eraldo in Italy and 3NY in the US. Japanese department store Isetan also visited SFW for the first time.

“We’re here to learn the latest trends, and I personally like unique patterns that Korean designers make. Korean designers’ use of patterns and colors are different from those from other cities,” said Lisa Chu, a buyer from Hong Kong.