SEOUL — Trendy Kpop and Korean drama-inspired styles were among the most popular looks featured at Fashion Kode, South Korea’s biggest fashion and culture trade fair.
Photos of Korean celebrities and Kpop stars in various outfits and accessories on red carpets and local TV shows hung inside many of the booths, alongside bags, jewelry and clothing they were pictured in.
Overseen by the government-run Korea Creative content Agency, Fashion Kode took place in Gangnam, the commercial center of Seoul. The three-day trade and culture event hosted a number of local and international buyers, brands and press while celebrities including Luna from girl group f(x), actress Im Soo-hyang, model Clara and actress Min Song-a attended the Lie runway show on the opening night.
Street style and casualwear were once again major trends at Fashion Kode. Oversize sleeves, bomber jackets, cartoonish badges and other flashy details embroidered on sweatshirts and bags were popular items, while global trends including khaki coats, flared jeans, full-length ruffled floral skirts and belted jackets were also seen on the runway at a few of the shows.
The trade fair featured a lineup of up-and-coming local brands and designers, as well as a selection of international brands hand-picked to show their work at the trade fair. Among them were Parisian label Lucie Brochard; Indonesian traditional loom-woven garments by Soe Jakarta, and Korean casualwear brand August Alive.
“We have around 90 brands at the trade fair this season,” said KOCCA team director Ji Kyeong-hwa. “We’ve been hosting runway presentations, as well as private presentations for buyers this week.”
While in the past Chinese visitors made up a major portion of international buyers, this year the numbers dropped, possibly due to the political tensions between South Korea and China. Several local and international brands at the trade show mentioned that while in the past, the opening day was the most popular with Chinese buyers, they had not seen a single Chinese buyer on Day One.
“I haven’t sold any of my products to Chinese buyers yet,” said Hun Jegal, creative director of local fashion brand Jegal Hun. “I’ve been told that doing business with China is now quite difficult….I am a little worried about this.”
However, organizers said the tensions between China and South Korea over an anti-missile defense system did not greatly affect this year’s fair. “I can say THAAD has had an impact on us but not that huge,” Ji Kyeong-hwa said.
“Originally, Chinese buyers made up the biggest group [of buyers]. But given recent political issues, their numbers have declined….Normally they make up 60 percent, this year, there were 55 percent. It’s not a big drop, but still a decrease,” Ji said.
Still, in light of potential issues with China, the trade show’s organizers focused on diversifying their market by inviting more clients from Southeast Asia and the Middle East this year. “We prepared for this situation by promoting the show in countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.…Last year, Southeast Asian buyers made up 10 percent of all buyers; this year they increased to 25 percent,” said Ji.
“I want to keep in touch with Chinese buyers, people and press,” said Chung Chung Lee, creator director of Lie. “In the fashion industry [at least], I hope we don’t have any problems between Korea and China.”
Lee added that East Asian countries ought to band together as one fashion community. “We have buying power, we have many famous designers. We have to work together.”