In 2020, to say that Korean culture is having a “moment” on the global stage is a total understatement; downplaying the longterm significance of the nation’s exports in food, music, beauty, and of course, fashion. There’s even a word for it: hanryu or hallyu, which translates to “Korean wave” — in other words, the outward flow of culture that began in the previous millennium, but came to a head in the past decade, with recent surges that made K-pop a household name and that filled our medicine cabinets with K-beauty staples like jelly masks, cushion compacts, and milky toners.
However, we’re focusing on the nation’s contribution to fashion — in particular, a growing e-commerce site that has introduced a number of indie imprints to the US market since its stateside launch in 2016, and continues to serve up original, outfit-making designs from still-unknown labels. W Concept — sometimes colloquially referred to as the “Farfetch of Asia” — is a multi-brand platform that started out as a showcase for independent Korean designers and grew to include over 1,000 brands from Korea, China, and the US. It’s also one of our best-kept secrets for that cutting-edge, no-one-else-has-it style that we’re constantly chasing here on the Shopping team.
After being seemingly surrounded by lust-worthy Korean fashion in 2019 — including Bloomingdale’s “Window Into Seoul” pop-up hosted by former R29er Alyssa Coscarelli and the likes of Sissy Saint Marie and Reese Blutstein sporting the nation’s fashion exports in double-tap worthy Instagram posts — we approached the fashion-forward one-stop-shop for some insight on the best Korean designers to look out for. W Concept’s CEO Cecile Kim — newly installed this past July after stints at MCM and Burberry — filled us in on her favourite pieces from the site and the labels that are poised for world domination in the upcoming year. “With the amount of potential in Korean designer brands, that have been in the market for a long time, I’m very happy to see their aesthetic sense and hard work shining through,” said Kim.
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