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On Sunday, HYPEBEAST touched down in the South Korean capital of Seoul in preparation for this week’s Seoul Fashion Week festivities. Unsure of what to expect, our limited experience with Seoul’s creative community had us excited to see how the week would unravel. Thus far, we’ve spent the first half of the week meeting (men’s runway shows are Friday and Saturday) with various Korean creatives who all come from different walks of the artistic world including artists, photographers, designers, editors, retailers and brand owners.
The creative landscape of Japan has been thoroughly documented and has created countless notable personalities and brands along the way. However, for its regional brethren, the promotion of arts through all platforms and facets – including the major economic powerhouses like China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea – are still a bit behind the well developed Japanese community. With this in mind, we’ve always wondered to what degree creative opportunities were stunted by the regional intricacies of a culture and society.
We’re sure many will agree, the local Hong Kong and Chinese creative scenes suffer from cultural stigmas that place less respectability into the arts. The perpetuated stereotype of parents wanting doctors, lawyers and engineers is slowly eroding but is something not entirely easy to move away from. For the Chinese, the culture has for so long placed importance on the number of zeroes at the end of the paycheck, we can’t help but feel our fellow Korean counterparts are feeling similar effects to the detriment of their creative scene.
There’s no way to gain a solid understanding of something as vast as a culture within a week’s time. But we’re really hoping to unravel some of the barriers preventing a country like South Korea from entering the global art spotlight. HYPEBEAST is interested to know what are some underlying themes that perpetuate themselves and make it difficult for the movers and shakers to gain traction. We have some themes we feel are reoccurring but we’ll reserve judgement until we get the chance to soak it all in.
But to end things off, the people we’ve met have all shown a great compassion for their fellow creative. Despite the ultra competitive world we live in, this hasn’t stopped them from helping one another when needed which is a solid foundation for growth. A quick walk through Sinsa and we found despite the commercial vibe of Garosu-gil, there was a strong support for local Korean brands.
Stay tuned for both looks into various menswear designers from Seoul Fashion Week in addition to a series of interviews that will hopefully shed light on the Seoul creative scene. We can’t help but feel all the tools are here, there just requires a bit of proper manipulation to present South Korea’s fashion, arts and retail to the rest of the world.