Seoul Collection Hits the Catwalk and Web on Tuesday

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Seoul Collection Hits the Catwalk and Web on Tuesday

"Fashion is no longer limited to clothes," said the director of the Seoul Collection, Han Young-ah. "It should be a comprehensive lifestyle arena that is a critical part of Korea's economy."

The Seoul Collection is very young compared to the prestigious collections around the world, and Ms. Han has been working around the clock with only one goal in mind: its growth. In fact, it has grown already, dramatically, after just one season. The 2001 Fall/Winter Seoul Collection will feature not only 29 top Korean designers - a big jump from only 12 in the Spring/Summer collection last October - but also the individual booths of 19 participating designers along with a makeup showcase and jewelry, food, dining ware and an automobile exhibition covering 6,561 square meters.

The Seoul Collection first exhibited last October in an attempt to hoist Korean fashion onto the international stage. It was the first time such a fashion event had taken place under the auspices of Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, thereby making it official overseas. This year, the Seoul Collection received special sponsorship from the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea, which Ms. Han views as "a clear sign of growing global recognition and interest." Fashion critics will select three designers from this year's collection to receive support to step on to the global catwalk.

In the past, the purpose of contemporary Korean fashion shows was limited to meeting the demands of the domestic market. Korean designers presented their belated interpretations of world trends to Korea's customized domestic distribution lines, which made Korean fashion susceptible to accusations of being "copy cat." The majority of Korean fashion shows were personally organized presentations offered to private clients rather than a vibrant transaction of creativity and commerce. With little public support and funds, survival in the fashion industry was about as secure as the life of an orphan in the wilderness.

Scheduling the show to fit the time frame of internationally established collections initially disoriented the industry a little, but it has helped Korean fashion become not only timely and marketable on overseas markets but, more importantly, has put it on equal footing with other major world fashion collections. The Korean fashion industry is now in sync with global trends, distribution and sales systems, opening the possibility of huge growth, both economic and creative.

The Seoul Collection fashion shows, which will run from Tuesday until April 13, are expected to be seen by about 80,000 spectators, a jump of more than 30 percent from last year. The viewers will include trend-conscious women in their 20s and 30s, 250 journalists (both Korean and international), buyers, fashion professionals and members of the public. During this fashion week, two official Web sites ( and will broadcast the fashion gala live.

The event organizers are optimistic. "Designers, observers and fans must open up to the fast-changing world, and we have already grown for the better this year. The Seoul Collection should be established as the ultimate venue where fashion and marketing meet if we want to be internationally competitive," said Ms. Han.

The 2001 Fall/Winter Seoul Collection will take place at the COEX Convention Center in Samseong-dong in southern Seoul. For information on tickets and schedule, contact Baik Sun-ah at 02-2105-9674 (English service available) or visit the official Web sites.

by Ines Cho

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