Considering how much people put into their style, it's no surprise that the fashion industry is worth 621 billion dollars.
One of the best things about fashion is how easy it is to change up your look. There is no better style to emulate than the popular looks from Korea.
The fashion scene in Korea has been growing at an incredible rate. Today, people worldwide look to Korea to inspire their own looks.
Are you ready to learn more about Korean fashion so you can incorporate it into your wardrobe? If so, this Korean fashion guide will cover everything you need to know.
History of Korean Fashion
The history of Korean fashion is long and complex. Over the years, Korean clothing style and design trends have changed dramatically. While today Korean fashion is a cultural phenomenon, its roots date back to the 1800s.
Korean Fashion Pre-1800
Before the 1800s, the traditional hanbok was what most people wore. Today, this garment is reserved for special occasions.
Most people wore simple hanboks except for the elite. They would wear richly decorated versions of this outfit.
Korean Fashion in the Early 1900s
By the turn of the century, Japanese and Westerners started influencing Korean fashion. Women began wearing western "flapper" clothing, and men adopted suits.
During World War II, Korean fabric shortages and poverty dictated fashion trends. Clothing became much more simple and dark in color. Hanboks started appearing in people's wardrobes again.
Modern Day Korean Fashion is Born
By the end of the Korean War in the 1950s, contemporary styles started showing up. In 1954, the International Western Clothing Company opened its doors in Seoul. This was the first company dedicated to fashion education in South Korea.
An emphasis on celebrating fashion started popping up in magazines and at markets. By 1957, Korea had its first fashion show with a Korean designer, Nora Noh.
Fashion stayed fun and fresh through the 60s. It took a turn in the 1970s with the election of President Park Chung Hee. He disapproved of revealing clothes, which people rebelled against with long hair and short hems.
By the 80s, young people kept things casual with baggy jeans and t-shirts taking center stage. Women's fashion took on a more refined, work-appropriate look, which corresponded with their rise in the workforce.
A K-Pop Era
The dawn of the 1990s brought a new music scene, K-Pop, to Korea. This culture took the fashion world by storm and became an instant hit. The hip-hop clothing mixed with the grunge of western music for undeniable style.
Today, Korea stands at the front of the fashion world. Korean fashion is high-quality, innovative, and tasteful.
Men's Korean Fashion Trends
Men's fashion in Korea is all about athleisure, streetwear, and casually formal looks. With such a variety of styles, you're bound to find one that you want to incorporate into your own wardrobe.
You'll find some of the following looks on men in the Korean fashion world.
This topper is a K-pop staple that you can see many Korean celebrities sporting. Top off your streetwear looks with one of these hats.
Top a monochromatic outfit with a bucket hat in an intricate pattern to make it pop. If you have a more subtle style, try a bucket hat that matches the colors of your outfit.
This men's Korean fashion trend pairs high-end pieces of clothing with athletic elements. To perfect this trend, balance casual pieces with more expensive clothing. Wear a leather bomber jacket over sweatpants and finish it off with gold jewelry.
Another color popular in the Korean fashion world is neon in all shades. Add a baggy neon t-shirt with a pair of jeans and a bucket hat. If you want to try a touch of this color, try wearing neon shoes.
You'll find this classic menswear pattern worn by many Korean fashion stars. The key to successfully wearing this pattern is balancing it out with neutral colors.
Try an oversized striped sweater with a pair of black pants. Tuck a striped button-down into a pair of skinny jeans. Add a baseball hat, and you'll be good to go!
Women's Korean Fashion Trends
Korean fashion is all about unique designs and high-quality fabrics. Women's Korean fashion focuses on very feminine looks or edgy streetwear.
A staple of Korean fashion is oversized clothing. You will see almost any article of clothing in this oversized format.
A street style look may incorporate an oversized jean jumper with a regular-sized t-shirt. The very large clothing gives a casual vibe to the overall look.
You'll also see large, oversized hoodies everywhere you look. You can see this style over anything from a jumper to a skirt. You'll look fantastic and feel comfortable at the same time.
Korean fashion is anything but understated. You'll find a lot of the clothing in bold yellows, purples, and blues.
This springtime color palette is fresh and sweet. A pastel color is perfect if you are looking to add a feminine feel to your wardrobe.
If you were to stroll down the streets of Seoul, you would see many distinct types of trends. One style that dictates a lot of Korean fashion is to dress in a more feminine manner.
The following are some basic looks you will see with this trend.
All Dressed Up
Dresses are a must-have for women's fashion in Korea. Keep in mind that in Korean fashion, most women pair their dresses with something extra. You'll see dresses layered with other garments or accessorized.
Dresses and Tops
For an effortless Korean style, add a simple top over your dress. The only rule for this look is to not layer two patterns on top of each other.
Try layering a plain long-sleeved t-shirt under a dress. If you are feeling bold, wear a ruffled patterned blouse under your dress.
If you are having trouble choosing which dresses and shirts to wear together, you aren't out of luck. Many in-person and online Korean stores have pre-made sets of dresses and tops.
Knits Over a Dress
You can wear your dresses in the winter months by throwing on a sweater over it. Wear a knit that hits your waist to make your dress look like a skirt. If you want a more playful look, wear a longer knit with a slit so your dress can peek through.
Another popular take on this trend mixes several layers at the same time. Wear a sheer lace dress over pants and add a knit on top for a fun and flirty look.
Most people in the western culture throw on a pair of jeans and call it a day. In Korean fashion, much thought goes into a look's bottom half.
Ripped jeans are the most popular style of denim. Pair this style with a white tee to keep the focus on your bottom half.
Most of the pants, shorts and skirts in Korea are of the high-waisted variety. Bottoms usually reach at least to the belly button and frequently to the natural waist.
Another Korean fashion rule is to tuck your tops into the waist of your pants, shorts, or skirts. Most often, it's just the front that gets tucked while the back hangs loose.
Although cleavage is off-limits, you will see very short skirts. Even in the harshest days of winter, you'll find people wearing mini skirts and dresses.
Skirts of all lengths are popular to wear in Korea. You can pair skirts with anything from t-shirts to hoodies to blouses.
A long, flowing skirt with dainty flower prints is very popular. Pair this skirt with either a simple blouse or button-down.
You'll find a healthy collection of heeled shoes in the closets of many Korean women. Stilettos, wedges, slingbacks, you name it, and you'll see it on the Korean streets. A pair of heels is an excellent complement to a feminine outfit.
If owning collections is part of your lifestyle then these dinnerware sets would look amazing at the dinner table. Let dinner at home feel a lot more luxurious.
In Korean fashion, chances are you have sneakers on your feet if you aren't wearing heels. These laid-back shoes are perfect for a grocery store or casual outing trip.
Find a pair of platform sneakers for a trendy twist on this Korean fashion item. Try getting sneakers in classic colors like white or black to match any outfit.
Pair your sneakers with summer dresses, ripped jeans, or a tennis skirt. You can even wear them for a night out to keep your toes from getting sore.
In the colder months, give chunky boots a try. These versatile shoes look great with any style of clothing. Contrast an ethereal dress with a pair of tough, laced-up boots.
You can find some of the best Korean fashion on Hongdae Street. People know the Hongdae area for its deep fashion roots. In fact, the most common type of fashion in Korea is nicknamed Hongdae Street Style after this famous place.
You'll find most Korean street styles on younger people in their teens and early twenties. The Korean streetwear fashion mixes hip hop with a rock and roll aesthetic.
Streetwear for men focuses on edgy, avant-garde clothing. It's loud, vibrant, and often unisex.
Prominent Names in Korean Fashion
If you are ready to jump into Korean fashion, you'll need to know which designers to look out for. You can find designers to match both expensive and luxury price points.
If you are on a budget, you'll love this Korean brand. 8seconds is an affordable and stylish option with clothing for men and women. You'll find more casual wear in this brand, like t-shirts and cardigans.
Are you looking for a Korean shoe designer? If so, you'll love the architectural designs of Yuul Yie. This designer also plays with color and stays up on the latest shoe trends.
For clothing with an ethereal aesthetic, this designer does it best. Tchai Kim takes inspiration from the traditional hanbok. Kim also uses mixed materials and vibrant colors to evoke emotion in the garments.
This designer concentrates on modern workwear for women. With garments tailored to perfection in neutral colors, you'll feel trendy but comfortable at work.
Another brand to watch is the popular fashion brand KUHO. All the garments from this label get made in Korea. You'll find this brand playing with draping, layering, and proportions.
You can find this luxurious label at many of the top shopping malls in South Korea. J.Chung makes clothing that you can wear in any season. They are affordable and perfectly imperfect.
Best Place to Buy Korean Fashion Items
The first place to look for Korean fashion is in the streets of Korea. If you are in Seoul, there are several markets and shopping malls dedicated to clothing.
You'll find the best deals at the fashion malls in Myeongdong. The market here has fashion finds for a bargain. If you want designer clothes, head to the boutiques lining the streets here.
You don't have to be in Korea to get in on the Korean fashion action. You can shop from many different online stores that specialize in Korean clothing.
Bring Your Wardrobe to Life With Korean Fashion Pieces
Korean fashion is innovative, bold, and creative. The diversity in Korean fashion style means there is a look that almost everyone can get behind.
You can try out a Korean fashion trend for yourself without needing to hop on a plane. Check out our Subtle Flight collections to add an eco-friendly fashion piece to your wardrobe today.