It is no surprise that the Hallyu wave is taking over the world. When it comes to fashion, South Korea is without a doubt one of the leading countries to create trends. Especially with this wave, K-fashion is becoming a big deal amongst today’s youth, leading to the rise of homegrown Korean fashion brands for both luxury and casual wear. Presenting their collections at the prestigious fashion weeks, these Korean fashion designers are making a name for themselves both domestically and internationally. So not only are their clothes being worn by Korean celebrities like G-Dragon, CL and the members of BTS and Red Velvet, but also by international stars like Rihanna and Bella Hadid!
1. Hye Young Shin
Hye Young Shin is the founder of the brand Wnderkammer, which originates from the German word “Wunderkammer” meaning a cabinet comprised of special items. Her brand which is designed for modern women holds a huge collection of dresses with unexpected details and a timeless appeal. Drawing inspirations from ballerina dancers, her designs are chic and minimalist, made using eco-friendly materials like cotton and silk.
2. Minju Kim
One of Korean fashion’s best success stories, Minju’s popularity spiked globally after she won Netflix’s Next in Fashion competition. Her designs draw inspiration from traditional Asian styles and combines elements of bold silhouettes with more delicate feminine features like florals or ruffles. She has even designed and put together outfits for famous K-pop groups like BTS and Red Velvet.
3. Dong Ho Ha
Although young Ha wanted to be an engineer, after working as an assistant designer during Seoul Fashion Week, his aspirations changed. Now he is the founder of his own streetwear label SWBD, which has a philosophy of blurring the gender aesthetic, keeping it gender neutral and unisex. His collections feature colour blocking, pinstripes and window checks, with variations made in classic prints and styles.
4. Kathleen Kye
Founder of the brand KYE, Katherine has been around the K-fashion scene since 2011. What originally started out as a unisex label now caters to mostly women’s wear. Her pieces are streetwear inspired and a combination of luxe, quirky, fun and colourful. With so much life and character in her designs, its not surprise that her pieces are displayed in the New York Fashion Week, with international celebrities like Rihanna and Kourtney Kardashian being fans of her work.
5. Noah Nam
Noah introduced his brand Nohant to the world in 2012, with his signature looks being brunch and everyday wear. He focuses more on ease and practicality rather than creating show-stopping red carpet pieces. The comfortable and elegant pieces in his clothing line gives customers a new way to view essentials, since they are suited and wearable for everyone regardless of age or gender.
6. Chung Chung Lee
Son of the famous designer Lie Sang Bong, Chung has adapted himself to the fashion lifestyle ever since he was a kid. It’s clear that fashion designing runs in his blood. His brand LIE draws inspiration from Korea’s rich artistic history and blends it with contemporary fine arts, creating a curated platform for artistic expression. He’s also not afraid to put out his political opinions through his fashion shows with 2018’s Fall collection being based on raising global warming awareness.
7. Hwan Heo
Having done his university education in history, his knowledge from historical references and eras had a major impact on his creativity. His label Heohwan Simlulation takes his geopolitical and historical aestheticism and crafts pieces with the knowledge of the past but vision of the future. Heo also tries to keep his work sustainable and eco-friendly, whilst also taking us all over the world with his time period and location based clothing.
8. Sung Ju Lee
A relatively new designer compared to the others in the list, Lee started his brand SUNG JU in 2020. For Lee coming up with designs is a form of therapy and every piece that he creates has a certain sentiment attached to it. Drawing inspiration from almost everything, his clothes play around with the silhouettes, ruched fabrics and bold colours.
9. Hyein Seo
Currently one of the most popular Korean designers internationally, Seo founded her brand HYEIN SEO in 2014. In the same year she was invited to present her collection at the New York Fashion Week where celebrities like Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Bella Hadid became fans of her work. Her designs are perfectly suited for the millennials and the youth as they incorporate themes of transitioning into adulthood, though streetwear.
10. Heejin Kim
Kim launched her brand Kimmy J in 2013 and started out with a monochromatic colour scheme. However moving forward with her design journey she has embraced a wider colour palette. Her love for installation art can be seen in the way she amalgamates heavy and urban aesthetics with playful surprising elements, giving her clothes a new dimension. Her work is popular among Korean celebrities and has been worn by the likes of Twice and Shinee.