5 Korean Fashion Brands You Must Check Out

South Korea is one of Asia’s leading countries when it comes to setting fashion trends – both on a regional and international scale. This is due in part to the growing popularity of stylish K-pop celebrities such as BTS, G-Dragon and Jennie, as well as the emergence of an increasing number of luxury Korean fashion brands. 

Moreover, twice a year, the prestigious Seoul Fashion Week showcases a range of established and up-and-coming designers, both from Korea, as well as abroad, who present their latest designs with the eyes of the world watching them.

Many of these labels have now become household names among fashion lovers around the world and count the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Bae Doona among their patrons.

If you’re interested in fashion but aren’t so familiar with some of the major players to come out of the Land of the Morning Calm, here are 5 Korean fashion brands you must check out.

Nothing Written

Nothing Written is a Seoul-based brand that offers a concise collection of staples and accessories. 

Their designs are characterised by streamlined silhouettes and a subdued earthy palette, with impeccable tailoring and high-quality materials used to elevate the understated design.

All of their pieces are beautifully made in Korea, offering a clean, minimalist approach to ready-to-wear fashion. Their aim is to provide every customer with pieces that are easy to wear and match.

The Nothing Written collection is minimalistic, classic, and timeless – designed to be enduring through trends, with its own unique aesthetic.

Their focus is on creating pieces for the self-aware, distinctive woman, suitable for daily life, whether in the workplace or a formal occasion. The pragmatic styling and clear shapes of the garments reflect the quality of the brand’s clothing.

Moreover, the brand meticulously studies every aspect of the design process, including the delicate details, tailoring, and construction, to ensure that each piece is of the highest standard.

Perhaps, most notably, their vision is eclectic, inspired by each unique season, with more love and rediscovery done through their delicate details and tailoring. You can see more Nothing Written here.

Kye

Back in 2011, Kathleen Hanhee Kye graduated from Central Saint Martins in London with an MA in Fashion (Menswear). Two years later, she debuted her brand at Seoul Fashion Week.

Since then, KYE has gone on to showcase at the New York Fashion Week in 2014 and has become a leading brand in the fashion industry. 

KYE is known for its fabulous unisex designs that are vivid, fresh and expressive. The likes of Rihanna and Kourtney Kardashian have been spotted wearing KYE outfits, while in South Korea, the brand has helped to launch the careers of models such as Jung Hoyeon and Bae Yoon-young.

In 2014, Kye was selected to be a finalist for the LVMH Prize. Although she didn’t win it cemented her reputation as a rising star within the industry.

She counts K-pop idols CL and G-Dragon as her friends, and they are often seen wearing her designs. Kye has also collaborated with Adidas, Gentle Monster, and Shu Uemura, the Japanese cosmetic brand. 

In 2020, Kye brought out a spring and summer collection called ‘Untameable’ to critical acclaim. It represented her idea of breaking from the constrictive norms of society and was defined by vivacious colours, over-the-top yet refined silhouettes and a mix of textures and details.

Minjukim

While still a student and two years after she took out the H&M Design Award, Kim Min-ju established her own label in 2015 – Minjukim.

A graduate of SADI (Samsung Art and Design Institute) and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, Kim is perhaps best known for becoming the winner of Netflix’s first reality fashion show, Next in Fashion In 2020. 

Inspired by Frida Kahlo, her 10-piece collection won her a cash prize of US$250,000 and the opportunity to launch MINJUKIM at Net-a-Porter. The Spring/Summer 2020 collection was called La Casa Azul, after Kahlo’s house.

Kim is also well known for her work on the During the Love Yourself world tour, where she designed costumes for the K-pop band BTS for their songs DNA and I Need U. Moreover, Red Velvet members wore MINIJUKIM when shooting their music video for their song One of These Nights.

Overall, Kim’s dresses are known for their joyful elements. Typically, they combine bold silhouettes with feminine touches like ruffles. Additionally, some of her designs are inspired by traditional Asian styles, like the Mandarin collar.

Gentle Monster

Gentle Monster is a statement eyewear brand that was founded by Hankook Kim in 2011. Since then, it has gained immense popularity not only in South Korea but also in other Asian countries, as well as the Middle East, Europe and America.

Many famous celebrities like Billie Eilish, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Tilda Swinton, and Gianna Jun (also known as Jun Ji-hyun) have endorsed the brand by wearing nice tops with their jeans and other items in their range at social events.

The brand is recognized for successful collaborations with champion designers and artists. It has worked with the likes of Kris Wu, Alexander Wang and Jennie of Blackpink, among others. In 2019, it also partnered with Huawei, the Chinese technology company, to launch a range of smart glasses that notably came with different touch controls and voice features.

Gentle Monster is also known for creating unique cultural spaces within its stores. For example, in 2016, it transformed its New York City flagship store into an underwater experience called Grand Blue, which drew inspiration from the French film Le Grand Bleu.

The installation was created via a collaboration with Justin Muir, the aquarium designer and Ivan Lee Mora, the glass sculptor.

Lie Sang Bong

Lie Sang Bong has been a prominent figure in the Korean fashion industry for almost 40 years. He has designed outfits for the likes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Priscilla Wong, Juliette Binoche and Yuna Kim, the Olympic gold medallist. 

Lie founded his brand in 1985, and today it is recognised as a prestigious international luxury fashion label. His inspiration comes from Korea’s rich literary and artistic history, with a particular focus on Korean script (Hangul) and calligraphy (Seoye).

He is especially proud of his Hangul fashion, which has become the trademark of his brand. Lie’s designs also incorporate themes based on architectural designs such as Bauhaus and Cubism. Besides traditional techniques like embroidery, many of the pieces within his impressive collections undergo advanced technological processing such as digital printing and laser-cutting.

In 2007, Lie designed the limited edition LG Electronics mobile Cyon Shine phone, making it one of the first collaborations between a mobile phone company and a fashion designer. The following year, he also designed the uniforms for the A1 Grand Prix Korean national team. Subsequently, Lie has a special place in influential Korean culture, which is cemented by having served as the cultural ambassador of Seoul and the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of Korea (CFDK).

Lie’s brand debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2014 with its Fall/Winter collection after spending 12 years showcasing its high-end clothing in Paris. His Spring/Summer 2018 collection features an eclectic mix of blue, pink, white, and black, with prints, dots, and leather as its main highlights.

The collection pays homage to Qi Baishi, an early 20th-century Chinese artist, with pieces such as the black-and-white long jacket and long organza blouse, which drew inspiration from his art.

 In 2011, Lie’s children, Nana Lee and Chung Chung Lee, continued his legacy by launching LIE, an affordable fashion wear label as a breakaway line.

Want to discover some more Korean brands?

Aside from the five notable Korean Fashion Brands outlined above, there are plenty more on the scene you may be interested in.

Here is a list of 20 more labels you might want to check out to see if they match your style:

  • WE11DONE
  • OJOS
  • Wnderkammer
  • GOEN.J
  • Hyein Seo
  • YUUL YIE
  • The Volon
  • KUSIKOHC
  • Post Archive Faction
  • UNAFFECTED
  • FFFPOSTALSERVICE
  • THUG CLUB
  • Juntae Kim
  • thisisneverthat
  • WOOYOUNGMI
  • Andersson Bell
  • EGNARTS
  • ADER error
  • AMOMENTO
  • CAYL

xoxo