In today’s ever-changing and globally connected world, fashion is a driver that unites people together. It has been a form of communication and self-expression.
What keeps showing up today – from the streets to the runways? Streetwear. It is evolving and proving itself to be up to the ranks with high fashion.
Korean streetwear fashion has been on the rise, thanks to K-Pop’s popularity these past years. The surge in popularity has caused people from all over the world, including celebrities, to take notice.
Korean streetwear used to be just for university students but has evolved to reach more designer brands and high fashion brands. In Seoul Fashion Week, you will find plenty of typical streetwear items like hoodies and sneakers, which shows how much the streetwear industry has risen.
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What is Korean Streetwear?
Korean streetwear is usually compromised of oversized clothing, vibrant colors, and fun graphics and logos. Korean streetwear can be categorized according to the neighborhood, as styles vary with location. First is Hongdae Street Fashion.
The Hongdae University district is filled with creatives like artists and designers. It also has great nightlife where people like to dress up in their favorite fits. This type of streetwear fashion is very unisex – oversized hoodies and shirts, chunky and big sneakers, and fun beanies.
The second is Ewha Street Fashion. Since Ewha University is an all-girls university, the fashion influences are much softer and more feminine, compared to Hongdae’s street fashion. More “schoolgirl” looks are present here – as well as dresses and skirts.
The style can be described as soft and elegant but does not sacrifice comfort. Last is the Retro Street Fashion. Retro street fashion borrows styles from the ‘80s and the ‘90s – a resurging fashion trend that can also be found all over the world. This fashion is composed of bold colors, simpler shirts, and fun details and accessories.
Why is Korea Known for Their Streetwear?
A big factor that led Korea to be known for its streetwear is the K-pop culture. With the rise of idols and celebrities, especially internationally, their fashions have influenced the world.
Korean celebrities who have collaborated with streetwear brands aided in the popularity of streetwear in Korea. They also have an extremely big influence on the Chinese streetwear scene.
Streetwear consumers from China are interested in Korean streetwear brands and hype it up as the next place to look for streetwear. Before this, Korea’s close ties with the United States played a factor in how Korea has become more accustomed to streetwear. The introduction of Western culture brought about new trends and styles.
What Locations in Korea are the Most Popular with Streetwear?
A popular shopping area in Korea is Hongdae, with the Hongdae Shopping Street. It is flocked by many college students and has plenty of boutiques of different varieties.
Other popular locations include Myeongdong, which includes bargain markets and more high-end shopping malls. Dongdaemun is also a fashion hub where you can shop like a local. It also holds fun events like fashion shows and live performances.
8 Korean Streetwear Brands to Know
Ader Error is one of the biggest streetwear brands in Korea and deserves the first spot on this list. This brand was launched in 2014 by an off-the-radar fashion collective.
The brand’s name shows how they like to play with imperfections and make them a positive thing.
Like many streetwear brands, Ader Error products unisex clothing with no gender restrictions and a way of self-expression for the youth. The brand mixes the past and future for its inspiration with oversized silhouettes and mixing in fun colors.
You will be able to see a good mix of minimalism and bold features that are eye-catching for fashion lovers of all kinds. Ader Error is also big on quality, always improving and editing the construction process.
This streetwear brand has already collaborated with the likes of Maison Kitsuné and Puma.
The brand was founded by Cho Nadan, Park Inwook, and Choi Jonkyu in 2010. The brand is also eco-conscious in ensuring that its entire design process, from production to shooting, is done in its Seoul studio.
Jackets and windbreakers are big for this brand. The brand also garnered popularity when BTS’s Jungkook one of their pieces for a music video.
Aside from this, many Korean rappers have also worn the brand and given it a strong streetwear reputation in Korea.
Hyein Seo was founded in 2014 by designer Hyein Seo. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and having her Bachelor’s collection shown in New York Fashion Week, there are no doubts that Hyein was one to watch.
She was also awarded as the Best Emerging Designer by the British Fashion Council. Her clothes play with construction and unique detailing, putting the focus on neutral tones.
The core of the brand is ‘twisted beauty’ with many anti-education and punk references. Her brand grew when Rihanna was spotted wearing one of her pieces.
99 Percentis or 99%is was founded by Bajowoo in 2011. The brand is already famous thanks to the support of K-pop icons like G-Dragon. The brand is influenced by music like EDM and Rock, with punk and goth influences.
Bajowoo was well-traveled and took inspiration from different cities that he had been to. The brand’s most popular item – the “Gochang” Pant – was worn by celebrities like Billie Eilish, Skepta, and A$AP Rocky.
The pants are parachute style with plenty of elastic pull strings – you have probably seen them on your favorite celebrity.
You will easily know a NERDY item once you see it, aside from a giant ‘NERDY’ print plastered on the clothes. It is a casual streetwear brand that was launched in 2022 and is a relatively young brand.
Despite being a newer brand, NERDY is already worn by many K-pop idols like IU, Jisoo, and Daniel Kang.
The brand is all about freedom, self, and identity. It allows wearers to have their individuality and comes in playful and vibrant colors. The designs are very sporty and boast oversized loose fits.
87mm Seoul was founded in 2013 by three fashion models – Kim Won-joong, Park Ji-woon, and Seo Hongseok. The name came from the year they were all born, 1987.
The brand carries a lot of ’80s-inspired clothing with many candy-colored sweatshirts and sporty-style windbreakers. The brand also boasts a preppy collegiate style and is popular with university students as they are situated near Hongdae University.
Their motto of “No Concept, but Good Sense” shows that they are not following trends but creating timeless staple pieces that are closet must-haves. Their aesthetic has a lot of boldness and fun graphics but styled very clean and minimal.
pushBUTTON is an interesting label to say the least. It was founded back in 2003 by Seung Gun Park. He came from a musical background and took a fashion design course in Seoul.
He dropped the course to pursue his music passion but called back to fashion years later. The brand officially took off in 2010 and was still greatly influenced by music.
It was also inspired by the ‘70s and ‘90s and he intertwines these decades throughout his collections. His pieces are usually unisex, with youthful elements and quirky designs.
A Piece of Cake
A Piece of Cake, also known as APOC, is a fun and joyful brand that is very youthful and bursting with energy. The team behind the brand composes of CEO Baek Inwon, designer Yeon Seungho, and marketing manager Andy Sama.
Their inventory consists of Korean streetwear staples like oversized tees, baseball caps, and fun jackets with a wide array of color combinations.
Fun prints include gummy bears, fruits, cakes, and other flavorful and colorful designs. The brand reached peak popularity in 2018 when BTS members were seen wearing their items for a music video.
Kathleen, more commonly called Kaye, is a fashion designer and creative. She graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Clothing Technology from the University of the Philippines. Kaye is a fashion enthusiast interested in styling, content writing, and illustration. She has worked with several local and international brands and is currently in the pursuit of beginning her Master’s Degree in Fashion Merchandising in New York.