Korean designers cruise into Singapore

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Korean designers cruise into Singapore

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Guests enjoy a plate of Korean appetizers at Seoul’s 10 Soul party on May 20 in Singapore.


SINGAPORE - Korea and Singapore were once dubbed two of the four Asian tigers for their economic potential. With sleek skyscrapers, high-tech industries and handsome economic growth rates, they have lived up to their nicknames in a relatively short period of time. And these two tigers have now trained their sights on the global fashion industry - launching new initiatives to ensure that their designers get the kind of exposure that translates into international success.

The most recent of these is the Asia Fashion Exchange.

Marking its second year, the trade show kicked off in Singapore on May 11 and ran through May 22, with four main events including the Audi Fashion Festival, the Asia Fashion Summit, the Star Creation talent search and Blueprint, a showcase for the cruise collections of rising young Asian designers.

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This year’s event was the biggest yet.

“It wasn’t this big last year. The number of participants has doubled this year compared to last,” said Soh Chin Ong, AFX’s public relations director.

To distinguish itself from established fashion shows in European cities such as Milan and Paris, AFX focuses on cruise wear collections. And by focusing on one fashion category, the event has begun to carve out a place for itself in a niche market.

According to Ong, 200 buyers from Asian and European countries flocked to Singapore this year for a glimpse of the latest cruise collections from 140 designers.

Cruise collections are presented between the spring-summer and fall-winter fashion season.

“This year, we’re more focused on cruise collections, because the clothes are practical in Asian countries,” said Ong, “and it’s a collection that is easy to wear.”

This year’s AFX event featured more Korean designers than ever before.

“The Korean presence is huge,” Ong said, referring to the group of Korean designers who were part of Blueprint this year.

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1. jaehwan*lee by Lee Jae-hwan / 2. JeHee Sheen by Sheen Jeehee / 3. Leyii by Lee Seung-hee


The 10 designers are part of Seoul’s 10 Soul, a city-led fashion project that is making its first AFX appearance this year.

Seoul’s 10 Soul was launched to promote Korean designers who are not yet recognized in the global fashion industry. With the city government’s support, they participate in fashion shows overseas, including the Tranoi shows in Paris this year.

“The designers are eligible to participate in many different shows overseas throughout the year, and their work is evaluated by local fashion experts including buyers and the media,” said Jung Ae-ri, a manager of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s fashion team. “The designer with the highest scores receives support from the city to present two collections in Paris and open his or her own showroom.”

Last year’s winner was Choi Ji-hyung, whose brand is Johnny Hates Jazz.

Korea has been trying to boost its presence in the global fashion scene and in recent years has launched a handful of promotional overseas campaigns sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Ministry of Knowledge Economy, in addition to Seoul’s 10 Soul.

But these efforts have often been the target of criticism from the Korean fashion industry because most of the events are redundant one-off events and the same designers tend to be selected.

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4. ALANI by Kim Jae-hwan / 5. Jardin de Chouette by Kim Jae-hyun / 6. beyond closet by Ko Tae-yong


For example, the design team of Steve Jung and Yoni Pai, whose brand is Steve J & Yoni P, was one of the designers chosen to represent the Korean fashion industry at Concept Korea in New York, organized by the Culture Ministry. The brand was also chosen to participate in Seoul’s 10 Soul.

In its defense, the Seoul government says that the events are different and that Seoul’s 10 Soul is not a one-time event but a long-term project that will continue for 20 years.

“The three events might look the same but their purposes are different,” Jung said. The Culture Ministry’s Concept Korea is a mixture of culture and fashion while the Knowledge Economy Ministry’s Global Fashion Brand Project is more focused on promoting Korean labels in Southeast Asian nations, she added.

“Seoul’s 10 Soul is more business-focused, meaning we choose designers who are already successful in Korea,” she said.

When asked why the same designers are chosen repeatedly, Jung said part of the problem is that the pool of designers is small.

“I’ve been doing the Seoul Fashion Week for the past 10 years and there is a limited number of Korean designers,” she said.

Song Jae-young, a PR official at Bridge Company, which promotes the city project, adds that it’s hard for individual designers to attract attention on the global stage no matter the quality or design of their collections.

“But when industry representatives realize these designers are backed by the city of Seoul, it’s easier for them to attract attention,” Song said.

And AFX has proven successful for the Korean designers. According to Ong, the AFX representative, 30 labels, including Korean ones, had confirmed that they have had official orders from various buyers and another 40 have made verbal agreements with buyers.

Seoul’s 10 Soul designers’ cruise collections were featured at the last official AFX event, a trunk show for which each designer created three cruise-inspired garments. The event was held May 20 at Ion Sky, a skyscraper that overlooks Singapore’s dazzling skyline.

The collection by Ko Tae-yong, whose brand is beyond closet, used nautical stripes and denim to create comfortable go-to styles accented with burgundy and dark navy.

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7. groundwave by Kim Sun-ho / 8. Steve J & Yoni P by Steve Jung and Yoni Pai / 9. General Idea by Choi Bum-suk / 10. KAAL EISUKTAE by Lee Suk-tae Provided by the Seoul Fashion Center


Kim Sun-ho, whose brand is groundwave, featured warrior-inspired designs in neutral colors such as white, gray and oatmeal.

Steve Jung and Yoni Pai of Steve J & Yoni P created classic summer dresses with owls and sunflower patterns.

“Yoni draws all these patterns herself and that’s what people take an interest in about our clothes,” said Jung. When asked how he feels about Blueprint, “I think this is a place where Asian designers can mingle together,” the London-educated designer said.

Kim Jae-hyun, with her brand Jardin de Chouette, which is popular with Korean female celebrities, creates elegant silhouettes with silk and jersey dresses in bold colors of neon yellow and pink.

Meanwhile, Lee Suk-tae, with his brand KAAL EISUKTAE, showed a smart collection in chic black and white.

“[AFX] is not as big as other similar events, but the people have passion and they are trying very hard,” said Lee, whose trademark is his black horn-rimmed glasses.

“I always aim high and want to expand to overseas markets. I’ve signed new deals with buyers here at AFX. This is very meaningful.”

Visitors who packed the event were enthusiastic about the designers’ collections, but it was French designer Jose Duran’s exuberant assessment that summed it up the best: “Love, love, love, love, love, love, love,” he said.

Another buyer from Belgium said fashion from Asia is becoming more important to the European market.

“Many people love Asian fashion. In Belgium, Juun.J [Korean designer Jung Wook-juun] is a superstar,” said Romain Brau, artistic director of the Belgium-based multi-brand shop “ra.”

Overall, AFX has proven a good opportunity for Koreans to showcase their designs.

“Our goal is to expand the market,” said Daniel Shin, an official at Doii Paris, which has a huge fan base in Middle Eastern countries.

AFX also turned the spotlight on Southeast Asian designers.

Raoul, one of the most successful fashion labels in Singapore, held a fashion show featuring its fall-winter collection.

The brand, led by husband and wife designers Douglas and Odile Benjamin, showcased its minimal office wear, patterned after styles from the early ’60s and ’70s. The collection featured knee-length skirts and long-sleeved chiffon blouses in monochrome colors, often accented with orange, wine and purple.

Max Tan, who is often dubbed the Alexander McQueen of Singapore, presented quirky and bold cuts based on Gothic concepts.


By Sung So-young [so@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

[style&] 싱가포르서 박수 받다, 코리안 크루즈룩

한국 대표하는 열 명의 디자이너, ‘아시아 패션 익스체인지’ 무대

지난달 20일 싱가포르 시내에 자리잡은 초고층빌딩 아이온스카이의 56층 전망대홀에선 패션계가 주목할 만한 행사가 열렸다. 국내에서 활발히 활동하는 디자이너들이 뭉쳐 패션쇼를 한 것. 쇼 주제도 국내 컬렉션에선 보기 드문 ‘크루즈룩’이었다. 싱가포르에서 열린 ‘아시아 패션 익스체인지(AFX)’의 마지막 공식 행사였다. 여기에 여성복 디자이너 이석태·김재현·스티브제이앤요니피·이승희·이재환씨와 남성복 디자이너 최범석·고태용·김재환·신재희·김선호씨가 나섰다. 열 명 모두 지난달 서울시가 후원하는 ‘서울스 텐 소울(Seoul’s 10 Soul)’에 뽑힌 뒤 한국 패션을 세계에 알리기 위해 무대를 꾸몄다. 패션쇼를 찾은 수백 명의 해외 바이어·기자들은 “독창적이다” “한국의 감성이 느껴진다”고 호평하며 ‘패션 코리아’의 가능성을 점쳤다.

호주 바이어 “색깔·무늬 감각적”

이번 쇼를 위해 디자이너들은 세 벌씩 크루즈룩을 만들었다. 수량은 작았지만 새로운 시도였다. 크루즈룩이란 서양의 요트 레저 문화를 바탕으로 한 휴양지 패션. 샤넬·루이뷔통 등 해외 브랜드는 정기적으로 선보인다. 한국 디자이너의 크루즈룩은 낯선 만큼 참신했다. 가장 눈에 띄는 것은 한국적 소재와 디자인을 내세운 김선호씨의 작품이었다. 승복과 비슷한 롱재킷·롱베스트를 선보였다. 소재도 회색·검정 등의 무채색 승복지였다. “젯셋족(비행기와 크루즈로 여행 다니는 상류층)의 편안한 차림을 한국식으로 풀어봤다”는 게 김씨의 설명.

이승희·이재환씨는 롱드레스가 아닌 미니원피스로 우아한 크루즈룩을 선보였다. ‘아프리카로의 여행’에서 영감을 얻은 이승희씨는 미니스커트 위에 비치는 옷감을 길게 늘어뜨려 귀족적 감성을 연출했고, 이재환씨는 구슬장식 술이 달린 짧은 원피스로 프랑스 귀족이 입을 법한 선상용 파티룩을 만들었다.

역동적인 크루즈룩도 등장했다. 최범석·고태용씨는 크루즈룩을 대표하는 줄무늬를 활용했지만 일반적인 크루즈룩보다 색깔이 더 강렬했다. 빨강·형광핑크 등의 원색으로 시선을 모았다. ‘젊고 귀여운 이미지’를 추구하는 요즘 남성복 유행 흐름을 따른 선택이었다. 호주 바이어 겸 디자이너인 신디아 루이즈는 “클래식 감성과 자연주의를 기본으로 하는 크루즈룩과 달리 한국 디자이너들은 색깔이나 무늬가 감각적”이라며 “하지만 크루즈룩의 핵심인 선글라스·모자·신발 등 액세서리는 부족해 보인다”고 말했다.

절제미·분할커팅… 개성 유감없이 발휘

“한국 디자이너들을 잘 모르지만 각자 만든 3벌씩만 봐도 어떤 스타일을 추구하는지 감이 잡힌다.” 싱가포르 디자이너 칸월 시듀의 평가였다.

이날 패션쇼는 모델 3명이 한 디자이너의 옷을 입고 동시에 등장하는 형식이었다. 특별히 디자이너 소개는 없었다. 하지만 평소 컬렉션의 ‘번외 편’처럼 한눈에 봐도 누구 옷인지 알 정도였다. 김재현씨는 샛노란 주름치마, 형광 핑크 일자 치마, 부엉이 그림 티셔츠를 선보였다. 부엉이 프린트는 브랜드 고유의 로고나 다름없는 디자인으로 개성을 발휘했다. 신재희씨 역시 절제미를 내세운 브랜드 컨셉트를 크루즈룩에서도 지켜냈다. 넉넉한 실루엣의 블라우스형 셔츠와 바지, 검정과 흰색 등 무채색 위주의 평소 스타일이 크루즈룩에서도 그대로 묻어났다. 이석태씨도 평소 컬렉션보다 색깔은 한층 밝아졌지만 특유의 분할 커팅이 도드라지는 원피스를 만들어 그만의 색깔을 놓치지 않았다.

내년 봄·여름컬렉션의 맛보기 기회로

크루즈룩은 내년 봄·여름 컬렉션을 보여주는 샘플이나 다름 없었다. 이번 크루즈룩에서 분위기를 180도 바꾼 김재환씨가 대표적. 이전의 어둡고 무거운 분위기에서 벗어나 데님을 이용한 반바지 슈트를 선보였다. 이는 다음 시즌 컨셉트이기도 했다. 김씨는 “다음 컬렉션에서는 낡은 데님을 중점적으로 만들 것”이라고 말했다. 이승희씨도 다음 시즌의 시험 무대로 이번 그룹쇼 의상을 준비했다. 그간 쓰지 않던 저지 소재를 전면에 내세워 디자인을 선보였다. 디자이너들이 이처럼 크루즈룩을 ‘맛보기’로 내세운 데는 이유가 있다. AFX가 다음 컬렉션을 구상하는 시기와 맞물려 작업이 연결되기 때문. 또 해외 바이어들의 평가를 일찌감치 알아보는 기회로 활용할 수도 있어서다. 세계 패션위크를 다니는 바이어 대부분이 중복되기 때문에 싱가포르에서부터 미리 ‘눈도장’을 받아내는 기회가 된다는 얘기다. 실제 이날 패션쇼 후에는 디자이너들과 바이어들이 함께 즐기는 애프터 파티가 이어졌다.

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