Made In Korea: 11 Trendsetting K-Designers Who Dressed Korean Celebs
What’s K-pop without K-fashion? Behind a well-dressed star is always an innovative designer whose work is even more amplified by the wearer’s charisma and innate sense of style. These Korean designers are shining the light on Korea as a hub for creative talents in fashion:
Korea’s traditional clothing, hanbok, is not only a symbol of the country’s rich beautiful fabrics and designs, but it also has a captivating story told with every pattern, emblem, or embroidery. K-pop stars are known to incorporate elements of the hanbok to their performance outfits, bringing it to a younger generation with a contemporary twist. It only shows how K-pop stars are recreating this look to put Korea’s tradition, national pride, and history on the global stage.
When BLACKPINK wore modernized hanboks for their “How You Like That” music video, design group Danha became the talk of the town for their tasteful yet fashion-forward take on the traditional wear. “Making modernized hanbok does not mean I don’t respect our tradition or treat it lightly. I want to promote that hanbok has more diverse charms than showcasing elegant and feminine traits. I’d also like hanbok to gain a foothold in overseas fashion markets,” Danha told The Korea Times. Another reason to love Danha? Their clothes use environmentally friendly materials and organic or recycled fabrics that promote eco and slow fashion!
When BTS’s Jungkook stepped into the airport wearing a coordinated hanbok set he styled in an effortless casual look, the brand was suddenly put on the spotlight, causing the exact item to be sold out in minutes! That’s the power of Jungkook the influencer and the unique design of Zijangsa, a brand that makes comfortable, wearable hanbok that is budget-friendly. This set costs only 34,000 won (approximately $29)! With a comfy and cool outfit like this, we’d want to copy Jungkook’s look too!
Who can forget this iconic performance by BTS’s Jimin from the Melon Music Awards? The designer who made the black robe and pants set is Leesle Hwang, a native of the traditional city of Jeonju. She shared in an interview with Korea Now how she got a call from someone who asked if she can sponsor clothing for a K-pop star. She said, “‘It’s for BTS!’ I shouted so loud inside, but I’m a professional, so I remained calm and said, ‘Oh, really?'” Even before then, Leesle had been known for creating daily hanbok for men and women. We’d probably freak out if someone told us we’re dressing Jimin!
On the red carpet and in K-dramas, stars are known to wear inspiring outfits that make the viewers fall in love. Although their creations may not be for everyday wear, these designers have made their mark in producing clothes that look like works of art.
You may have heard of Minju Kim as the winner from the fashion design reality show, “Next In Fashion.” She has dressed Red Velvet’s stage outfits, but the world really took notice when she designed clothes for Seo Ye Ji in her role as the bewitching writer Go Moon Young in “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” “I am inspired by everything around me ranging from books and letters to friends and my dreams. I could describe my collection as my personal diary,” she shared in an interview with Hypebae.
Fashion is shaped by the wearer, and not the other way around. What makes fashion in Korea exciting is that it blurs the line between feminine and masculine styles, redefining gender roles, and letting the clothes speak for themselves. These designers are doing just that, creating sleek, streamlined menswear that break the boundaries of fashion.
Jaybaek Couture is a designer brand that is loved by many celebrities for its classic tailoring, attention to detail, and customized suits that fit like a glove. Female celebs love it for its streamlined yet sexy style, while men prefer it for its unique take on delicate, customized tailoring.
Kim Seo Ryong
If there’s a go-to designer that has a portfolio filled with handsome Korean stars, it’s got to be Kim Seo Ryong. Considered a veteran in menswear, Kim Seo Ryong first launched his brand in 1996. He has won several design awards since then for his impeccable classic looks that stand the test of time.
BTS in coordinated Kimseoryong
These designers are known for their sophisticated, soft, and feminine styles that make K-stars look like a dreamy fairy.
Lang n Lu
For HyunA’s “Flower Shower” era, the star enlisted the help of designers Lang n Lu to create a flirty, floral look that’s still edgy. This resulted in her iconic comeback as a solo artist, with outfits that complimented HyunA’s beauty and personality. The brand is well-loved by stars for “representing a woman who rejects the existing order with a global attitude, such as funky, sexy, playful, and multi-cultural.”
Ti:baeg is another eco-friendly designer brand that not only takes inspiration from elements of nature, but also uses garments and methods that are not harmful to the environment. With a signature look of floaty, dreamy, and feminine designs, celebs love it for its simple yet standout looks.
Korean fashion is first and foremost driven by street style. It’s this in-between styling of wearable clothes and funky, edgy pieces—a balance that’s often hard to find, yet easily pulled off by K-stars.
One can’t mention street style without KYE. She’s dressed some of the hottest stars and continues to be the go-to choice for her mix of sporty, urban styles. With friends like CL, BIGBANG’s G-Dragon, and model Irene, designer Kathleen Kye has endless inspirations at her disposal. For her signature deconstructed pieces, the designer takes a different approach. “I tend to tear things apart,” Kye told W Magazine.
D’Antidote is a brand that is fearless and bold when it comes to streetwear. Its signature is seamlessly combining high-end fashion with streetwear, making its wearers look youthful, energetic, and vibrant.
Greedilous is a designer brand that’s known for its bold colors, statement prints, and mesmerizing patterns. If you loved Jihyo’s standout dress in one of TWICE’s performances, that’s because it was from this brand that’s also a global favorite for its bright, head-turning looks!
Hey Soompiers! Which of these Korean designers caught your eye? Tell us in the comments below!
DianneP_Kim is an English magazine and online editor based in South Korea. She is the author of a K-pop style book published by Skyhorse Publications, New York, and has recently released her second book about BTS. Check it out on Amazon and follow her on Instagram at @dianne_panda!