Korean Fashion Taking Over the Western-Dominated Fashion Industry

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From high end, designer wear to fast fashion and streetwear, South Korean brands and designers have taken over much of the western fashion industry. Following the rise of k-pop and k-beauty, k-fashion is the next wave of Korean products that has risen in popularity and gained a cult following in the past few years.

Just last year, Nordstrom began adding Korean designers such as Kye, Hyein Seo, and J Koo in their Pop-In series. Olivia Kim, the department store’s vice president of creative project, told Refinery29, “There is so much to talk about with Korean style, whether it’s apparel, accessories or beauty, and it felt like the right opportunity to tell a broader story for our customers.” Kim was inspired to curate pieces of Korean fashion during Seoul Fashion week where she and her team discovered J Koo.


Many fashion Youtubers, like Korean-American Jenn Im, consistently recommend Korean fashion brands to their viewers. Jenn Im frequently visits Seoul and often documents her fashion finds on videos titled “Korean Fashion Haul.” One fan commented, “if I ever go to Korea I will go crazy shopping hahaha,” another said, “I love Korean fashion because you can look cool, cute or feminine without the need to buy name brand clothing.”


The accessibility of Korean fashion has also propagated the k-fashion craze. Online clothing brands such as Stylenanda, offer Korean fashion pieces at an affordable price, with worldwide shipping. The fast fashion brand initially launched as an online boutique but the growth in popularity prompted the company to open multiple physical stories in Hong Kong, China, and Korea.


Larger western brands have caught onto the popularity of Korean fashion. French cosmetic brand, L’oreal, recently offered $375 million for a majority stake of Nanda, the parent company of Style Nanda, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, also has several Korean brands in its investment portfolio.


Monica Kim, a Vogue editor says, “The fashion in Seoul moves fast and is incredibly trend-driven. It’s why you see a lot of logo hoodies, statement T-shirts, fun denim…things like that.” The new generation of Korean fashion is quickly rising, but fast fashion has increased the accessibility of the styles across the world, taking over the Euro-centric fashion industry.

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