When you think about trends coming out of Korea, you immediately think of makeup and skincare. Native fashion designers are every much as forward thinking as their beauty counterparts. Here are three Korean fashion designers to put on your radar in 2019.
Named after a term used in the Madonna song “Hollywood,” Pushbutton was launched in 2003 by former K-Pop star Park Seung Gun. It has since established itself as a much sought-after brand due to its playful silhouettes, genderless style and youthful designs.
The Autumn/Winter 2019 collection was packed full of patterns, anti-smoking messages and regal drama – argyle, tartan and florals in ample shapes and rainbow colours, matched with hefty trainers, various ornate headpieces and Elizabethan ruffle collars.
“In my collection all pieces can be worn by a woman or a man, I don’t see it as two separate lines” says Park. These elements blend seamlessly into the K-pop aesthetic, and so the label was immediately popular with his celebrity peers. Pushbutton’s bold collection also fascinates fashion insiders because of its innovative, daring designs. “I can say that Pushbutton always strives to make a beautiful balance between opposite concepts, such as feminine vs. masculine and sexual vs. sporty,” Park explained.
Park did not formally study fashion but he entered the industry by way of his musical talents. It was whilst recording his second album he refocused his career back to design, having previously dropped out of a fashion design course in Seoul.
Edge and wearability have long been a key focus of the brand’s profile – all of the garments have pockets, and it is designed for fashion lovers, however they identify. The experimental and conceptual designs are loved by critics and clients alike, generally trendy types who are hungry for something lively and individual to wear.
The Autumn/Winter 2019 collection of Rejina Pyo exemplified the quality, beauty, and stylish functionality that her fans have become accustomed to. Masculine blazers, feminine silk dresses, accents of silver lamé and plenty of accessories in the form of handbags and jewellery.
Founded in 2014, fashion brand Rejina Pyo, is built upon the philosophy of dressing women from all parts of the globe, in a simultaneously elegant and playful way. “I want my designs to blend in with real life, for all women, who are beautiful at any age” says Pyo. This ethos is seen in every collection, clothes that she and other women want to wear and treasure.
Rejina was born and raised in Seoul until she moved to London in 2008. After graduating from Central Saint Martins, she was presented with the coveted Han Nefkens Award for her final collection. Ryo’s fashion career began at Roksanda Ilincic as her first assistant where she worked for three years, perfecting her skills.
In only half a decade the brand has collected loyal, global fans, who buy into the pieces due to the focus on building longterm relationships and evolving with the wearers over time. The foundation of the label is to create modern and wearable pieces, that encourage individuality. “My customers are intelligent women, they know what they want and what suits them and are not wearing something for the sake of the brand.”
Since its’ inception, the brand has established a signature style of overflowing proportions and sculptural silhouettes. The Autumn/ Winter 2019 collection was no exception.
Outerwear is always a brand strength – a focus on puffer jackets was the incarnation for this season, envisaged in patterns of camouflage and tartan, worn with chunky trainers. This was blended with sharp tailoring in dark solids and oversized anoraks, and detached puffer jacket hoods with baseball cap bills.
The eponymous label launched and debuted at Paris Fashion Week (Men’s) 2007and quickly established itself as an innovative brand to pay attention to, through the deconstruction of traditional ideas in menswear. Although Juun.J has a decidedly modern approach, his designs are deeply rooted in his knowledge of classic tailoring, where he re-examines old notions to create new silhouettes.
He studied at ESMOD Seoul and cut his teeth at many celebrated fashion houses before creating his own brand. He refers to his label as “street-tailoring” because much of his inspiration comes from youth and street style. “Korea is a country that absorbs the trend [sic] faster than any other country, which also knows how to transform the trend into their own culture,” says Juun.J. talking of his homeland and how it inspires him.
“From these influences, Korean men started to take in the idea of ‘masculine’ with more flexibility.” The historic ideas of masculinity, and by extension menswear, are what the brand looks to question and reinterpret.
Main Photo: Pushbutton. All images: Imaxtree