I’m on the subway headed to popular Seoul tourist spot Gyeongbokgung Palace. I look around me and see different interpretations of the same look. On one side of me is a young man—or at least I assume he’s young, but his face is covered by a low-slung baseball hat and a cloth face mask—wearing tailored green trousers with a black hoodie and a distressed T-shirt peeking out from underneath. Farther down the car is a girl wearing a long pleated skirt. I glance up and see that she’s paired it with a bomber jacket and sweatshirt; her long silver tresses are covered by a beret. With two stops to go, the train doors open and my eyes immediately gravitate toward a blue Delvaux satchel. Its owner is a woman wearing a burgundy floral dress layered with an oversized chunky-knit vest and an open-front cocoon coat. Kitten-heel pumps complete the elegant ensemble.
This is just a snapshot of some of the looks that struck me while living out my vacation dreams on a trip to Seoul last fall. In addition to sampling traditional delicacies in Bukchon Hanok Village and salivating over the industrial décor of Seongsu-dong, I was constantly inspired by the way so many people in South Korea played with fashion.
After a few days wandering around the city, I noticed that for the most part people fell into two camps: streetwear or tailored chic. The former was characterized by oversized silhouettes and layers in neutral shades of black, tan, and khaki. Meanwhile, tailoring revolved around streamlined designs that explored unexpected silhouettes and proportions. Here’s how I’ll be translating the Seoul spin on these trends into my spring wardrobe.
It’s no secret that streetwear has been a popular trend for a few seasons; however, what caught my eye was the way locals artfully combined high-end designer pieces with basics to create looks that are as elevated as they are comfy.
In an effort to recreate this winning mix, I looked to South Korean brands D-Antidote and Blindness. Founded by award-winning designer and industry veteran Hwansung Park, D-Antidote is celebrated for gender-fluid creations that explore the connection between London and Seoul. Similarly, Blindness founders and designers KyuYong Shin and JiSun Park, whose collection debuted last year, use their imaginative clothes to play with traditional ideas about gender. To that end, the duo often embellish more rugged styles such as bomber jackets and hoodies with pearl accents and slender chain trim. Though there are tons of different options to choose from, my version of the pleated skirt and bomber jacket I’d seen that day includes an embellished fleece hoodie with a checked flannel midi-skirt.
For the more tailored looks, my Stateside treasure hunt led me to Vis Ā Vis and BoonTheShop. Founded by Yon Hui Choi, a Barneys New York alum who splits her time between South Korea and the U.S., Vis Ā Vis is a luxury label that highlights timeless, wearable clothing through utilitarian silhouettes. High-end brand BoonTheShop also follows suit, creating minimalist designs from luxurious materials. As I scoured the offerings of these two fashion houses, I not only found my chunky-knit sweater vest, but also a variety of clean-lined separates to channel the more androgynous looks I’d seen around Seoul. My personal take pairs wide-leg trousers with an open-front robe coat and striped collared shirt.
And there you have it: a small sampling of how one editor puts a twist on street style. To discover your own interpretation, head to barneys.com and take a trip to Seoul via our curated selection of South Korean designers.