Hera Seoul Fashion Week was not what I imagined it to be. In contrast to what I've seen in New York, SFW was a convention open to all Seoulites during mid-October at the Dongdaemun Culture and History Park. Previously, I believe in September of 2013, I wandered to Lincoln Center for New York Fashion Week on the hottest day of the year... only to stand outside the Mercedes Benz venues for two hours. While I had simply gone for a bit amateur photography (and perhaps the chance at a celebrity sighting), what I walked into was a mass mingling event of fashion-industry aspirators exchanging business cards, blog ideas, collaboration opportunities, etc. I remember perplexing most people who came up to introduce themselves to me, not only because I was a very timid and shy 19 year old, but because this was perhaps the first networking event that I had been to in which my economics major was not the norm.
While I soaked through my denim bubble skirt and wedge sneakers (haha) with sweat that day, I did manage to meet a number of people and snap a few good photos. But even with how friendly and open everyone was, there was still an obvious stratification between those walking into the shows and those meandering outside. As the stereotype goes with the fashion industry, it seemed to be an exclusive club of the uber-stylish, famous, and beautiful. A club only joinable with the utmost amount of sacrifice and –no matter what Alexa Chung says– luck. While the rest of us outside of the club admired and snapped photos, those in the club walked past us without even the slightest eye contact... to watch the top looks of the next season walk down the runway. Looks that the rest of us would never see.
Perhaps in a world where almost everything is accessible at our fingertips via the internet, some of us yearn for that sort of exclusivity. A secret (and very glamorous) world only accessible by an elusive and indirect route– one which nobody else can enter and those who wish to spend years looking for the way in. This is always how I have pictured the fashion industry, but not without confusion. Why is it that such a small elite group gets to view and decide the looks for the rest of us who will actually be buying the clothing off the racks? Valid question? or am I just bitter?
Obviously Seoul Fashion Week is not nearly as big as New York Fashion Week. The schedule was packed with more local designers, and the the celebrity presence was limited to Korean idols and models. DDP was filled with photographers, students, bloggers, buyers, and more (and of course, all impeccably dressed). If anything, Hera Seoul Fashion Week felt far more like a city convention than an exclusive club saved for the thin, stylish, and beautiful. Those networking outside were in line to see the shows; couples after work waited in line to get into the empty seats to see the new looks for next season. Many people who I was seated next to had just finished teaching or working before heading out to the shows for their blogs or own pleasure. After shows, attendees headed home to get to bed.
Of course, the lofty nature of fashion week cannot be completely escaped, but I did feel that SFW was fashion brought back down to earth. Even the styles featured in the shows themselves (posts soon to come) were looks and pieces that I could easily see being worn by the super trendy residents of Seoul. This is in contrast to the looks seen at the shows in NY, which when seen one cannot help but wonder who is going to be buying those pieces. Perhaps I am looking at this far too practically– fashion is as much as a product as it is an art form. But in the economists mind: if there is no demand for those couture pieces then how is there a supply? I don't say this rhetorically– I do think that my questions come from a place of ignorance in regards to how the industry works. So if anyone has answers, I would be happy to listen... preferably in one of Seoul's eclectic coffee shops.
My thoughts, and maybe some research, will continue as more posts from fashion week trickle in– as well as some other posts regarding Seoul, Japan, and travel in general.
I picked this dress up from Edae the night before my second day at SFW. I am always drawn to statement pieces that require more investment with my money... but can rarely bring myself to hand over the cash to do it. But for this dress, the velveted ribbed material was too good to give up. It was an easy piece to throw on, and went well with my Quay sunglasses that allowed me again to look for the best street style. Since my ankle was still in some pain I slipped into the same flats. My black friday satchel is surprisingly large, fitting both my oversized wallet and camera. Overall it was a comfortable and easy statement look.
Bag: Urban Outfitters
Photography by Sidney Hahm