Korean top 5 fashion designers

Fashion photographer and international lifestyle writer/editor, Vincent Sung traveled to South Korea during Seoul Fashion Week F/W 2016 held last April 2016. He selected Korea’s Top 5 designers during the collections. “I was looking for the influential, the movers and the shakers, the ones who are doing something a bit different than the rest, and of course, ‘The Legends’.  I toured around Seoul and introduce you to these creators that grabbed my attention”.

To start off, hats off to Lie Sang Bong. Internationally recognized fashion icon and one of Korea’s pioneering fashion designers, Lie Sang Bong founded his eponymous label in 1985. This entrepreneur began his career by creating couture garments for private clients at his humble atelier in Seoul.  Known for his distinctive style, blending traditional influences and innovative techniques, his architectural collections that celebrate and enhance the feminine body. “Fashion is where art and industry converge,” says Mr. Lie. Aiming at expanding his brand worldwide. An influential artistic and cultural figure in South Korea, he currently is the president of CFDK (Council of Fashion Designers of Korea) and an international cultural Ambassador for the City of Seoul. And most interestingly, influential to his children, one of them Lee Chung Chung who now works alongside Lie helping with the well-established label as well as his own label, Lie.

Lee Chung Chung, a Central Saint Martin’s alum and as we now know, son of Korea’s fashion veteran, Lie Sang Bong, began forging his own path in 2013 when he launched, LIE. The label, which stands for “Love, Identity, Ego” appears modern, sporty, and fun in aesthetic. Interested in creating a good brand, the son of Lie Sang Bong, childhood lover of comic books is creating clothing for young and fun women.  With great influence from his father, seeing his first fashion show at the age of eight, it is no wonder that Lee is creating alongside his father today. Lee stays more in the commercial realm and saves most of his fantastical and creative energy in contribution to his father’s label, ‘Lie Sang Bong’.  A collaboration of theirs that should not be missed waits in the meatpacking district of New York City. It would be worth your while to check out the shared flagship store of the father/son duo, which also serves as part installation gallery.

Onto the next legend, Park Youn Soo who also established his first line in 1985, making him active in the fashion industry over 25 years. Starting out by taking American military uniforms from the market, deconstructing and reconstructing for his peers in high school, we deem him a utilitarian prince! He has since achieved countless awards and sits among many boards and councils, essentially shaping the fashion industry of Korea. After many seasons of success with his signature line, self-taught fashion star, decided to venture out into launching a fresh new label called Big Park in 2012. His goal with Big Park was to create something spirited and playful, but bringing forth signature elements of precision and tailoring from Park Youn Soo, juxtaposed with his early military and utilitarian nuances from early on in his career. Park continues to give us an undisputable edgy, head turning, story-telling, bodies of work. He is a true classic while keeping up with the times and always going at his own pace.

Onto to modern, the next generation, we are enthralled by what Nohant is offering; a unisex ready-to-wear brand. The designer and founder, Noah who has been directing and designing the brand for five years now, started fresh out of university with an interior design major and instantly jumped into fashion. Clean cuts, monochromatic palette, and extremely classic clothing for both men and women wait behind the glass doors of Nohant’s showroom in Hannam. While browsing around, we were happy to hear of his new project, the children’s wear line titled, “New Kidz” geared to giving back to the young ones of the population. In amongst the children’s wear and the sophisticated, sharp cuts lies a strong brand philosophy and the stem of Noah’s driving force for the label, which is not necessarily about the clothes themselves, rather the raw emotions of the humans behind them. And for Noah, the aesthetic inspiration comes from travel. The process of building collections is imagining what is in those travel trunks. It is wearable, casual, sophisticated, and clean. It is all about the lifestyle and it feels so good.

Directly after graduating from l’Ecole de La Chambre Syndicale de La Couture Parisienne in 1997, Kaal launched his dark and edgy label, Kaal E. Suktae. This modern contemporary brand celebrates the sensitive elements within the norms of culture and aesthetically projects his signature structurally avant-garde style. Kaal gives great pride in his “hands-on approach”, explaining that continuing to develop his craftsmanship and developing the work himself is very important to his vision and that he spends a lot of time working with the fabric and patterns to continually develop his skills over time. We are excited about what Kaal has coming up next, the genderless project currently on the cutting table.

Photos & selection by Vincent Sung

Text by Brit Wacher

Production & Coordination by Fluxus Agency