The Seoul Of Menswear

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22 August 2011 By Ana Finel Honigman

The Seoul of Menswear

Women in South Korea celebrate lady-like femininity, but they also adore men who share their love of style and creative expression through clothes.

Sartorial ingenuity in Korean menswear often outshines the more commercial-minded womenswear collections. The effect is as full of compelling contrasts as the gender distinctions between peacocks, with the females appearing understated and reserved while the men flaunt their majestic colours.

CY Choi Menswear AW13

While Korean womenswear tends towards sleekly cut black leather and artful layers, men’s collections boast an eye-popping palette, unexpected textural contrasts, eclectic cultural references and theatrical styling. The best included Unbounded Awe's suits in a crayon box of pastels (such as charming business suit mixing mint-green plush and pin-stripped gray wool) and Grange Yard's knit surfer shorts and involving tops were boyish and bouncy. Hye Jin Hong’s striking Studio K collection of genuine Harris tweed, was a remarkable cultural mix of East and West.

Model standing in textured black coat

Korean male celebrities are renowned tastemakers whose willingness to sport extreme styles inspires younger men towards more arresting looks themselves. Experimentation with hair colour, eye-catching fabrics and extreme self-presentation is less common in Korea than in Japan, where intricately crafted subculture styles are a significant part of the cultural creative landscape. Yet, Korean culture is increasingly open to young men playing with dress and unconventional attitudes. Designer Il Keun Ji describess his work as “a classic tailored brand with its own character and wit” – a perfect summation for Seoul’s menswear style this year.