K-Pop. Delicious, sticky bbq. While pop culture and food still propels the Korean craze, creative industries – architecture, art and certainly fashion – are proving the more celebrated aspects of Korea in recent years.
How do you define Korean style? There’s not just a single look, that’s for sure. Scouring Seoul Fashion Week, the men offered a mix youthful streetwear and louche-tailoring – with a touch of rebel (think biker and punk) and slashes of colour on classic sombre tones.
Authentic denim, practical layering and the reworking of casual jackets and topcoats – into both high and low dressing – saw Koreans work each piece into their very own ‘Gangnam Style’ (don’t you dare start singing).
Click through the slideshow for 50+ ways to dress like a Korean. And read on for key trends from the streets of Seoul.
#1 Biker Chic
Cropped and clean, Korean men look to biker jackets as key casual layering. And the more leather the better. Black perfecto jackets create a Marlon Brando shrine to the Fifties, a neat white t-shirt tucked in to classic blue jeans and boots – nothing cropped and over-styled.
Suede – in chocolate and mocha – jackets are the second leather-love. Again worn with a basic, clean tee, but more Ramones-esque with stovepipe jeans and side-buckled Chelsea boots, the denim belted over zip-front pockets – adding as much metal as they can.
Making a fashion play on the activewear trend, Koreans are hoodwinked by the hoodie. The comfort clothing is well-beyond the athletic track or greasy gym and comes nighttime neoprene black with chunky statement zips for a moody, mechanical finish. Under a topcoat in the season’s camel-hue, it’s the perfect depth-addition to an otherwise minimal tailored rock outfit – black skinnys and chunky Docs the base-half.
Koreans – streetwear fiends – bounce along with the bold, bright hoodie too. Paired with slim, active-inspired trousers and white plimsols, the hoodie is refreshingly snug; nothing contrived and oversized, groping away from the ill-fit of the Nineties.
#3 Chaotic Camel
Camel topcoats – with sprawling peak lapels and sharp shoulders – are a welcomed outerwear piece in winter, lightening the bleak Seoul streets. But it wouldn’t be Korea without some style-rebellion to derail British tradition. This looks like camouflage print and patches or logos. Camo-print track pants (never khaki pants) and their khaki base-colour ties in nicely with a camel coat, kept particularly fresh with a white tee and sneakers (instead of military boots, which would give this look more oomph).
Punk-ish patches emblazoned the back of Chesterfields, in a blink-and-miss-it act of anarchy, that resolved peacefully with stoic dark denim (void of rips so to appear too punk-themed), white sneakers and a felt hat. The perfect blend of punk, tailored and street wear.
#4 Poppin’ Colour
On the streets of Seoul, a darkened mood can ascend: lots of black with the occasional flash of a primary colour piercing the sombre tone. A blue suit, pink t-shirt, or bold red stripe sweater pops against a neutral, monochromatic background. Koreans keep the other items – namely black denim, felt hats and leather boots dark – to absorb the colour noise.
#5 Monochrome Details
Taking inspiration from the classic Brits (a la Burberry) and fuss-free Scandinavians, Koreans tap easy-go monochrome ensembles. Based on three-piece looks, black slim-fit trousers, a long-sleeve plain tee and cotton topcoat (trench or work jacket) lay the foundation for the minimalism. Then jazz it up Seoul-style with orange-lensed shades (a huge trend in Korea this season) or something less brash – a fine silver necklace.
#6 Denim, For Days
Like the Japanese, Koreans adore their denim. Top-to-bottom Canadian suits (aka double denim) injected with a freshness known to Seoul. A common trend this season is the slashed sleeve denim shirt; cut home-job style at the elbow and layered over a long-sleeve t-shirt or sweater. The black buffers the matching denim jeans with gargantuan holes that would displease any mother.
Not into all-over shreds? stick to distressed jeans with a simple shirt and sneaker. Or considers a selvedge denim in inky-blue, opting for a white contrast stitch to show the mechanics of craftsmanship. Makes for a great winter and nighttime denim.