This weekend we witnessed the last of SFW Spring/Summer 2018 and all of the fandom and excitement that came with it. I think I’m still a bit buzzed by the atmosphere at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza or DDP as it was an exhilarating and equally exhausting experience but one I would definitely remember for many years and for many reasons too.
Living in Seoul can be an overwhelming experience, with its never ending fast paced lifestyle, consumerist heavy fashion & beauty industry and not to mention the Korean work ethos which now kind of sounds like a Rihanna song because well, most people can’t stop working. And with this push into doing more and constantly being on the move, their ever growing inclusion into the mainstream fashion world has everyone rocking the same trends all at the same time.
I’ve never seen anything like it. Walking in the streets of Seoul can sometimes feel like you seeing McDonald’s stores on legs and wherever you look, you can’t help but see that giant yellow M sign. If you’re not following – Koreans are religious at following trends and everyone seems to be wearing a variation of the same outfit.
Enter Seoul Fashion Week, where suddenly you’re in a vacuum of street fashion and an edge away from the cutesy doll eyed look to something a bit more experimental. Korean fashion or counterfeit fashion as some would argue, together with the superfluous k-beauty market, portrays quite abruptly an ideal of what people should strive to look like. This specific standard of beauty is life for a lot of South Korea’s youth and most certainly asserts a pressure on the younger generation to follow this path.
I’ve often been told by young girls that they feel ugly because they do not look like a photo shopped image of a post-plastic surgery individual or God forbid, a K-Pop idol. I find this reality deeply upsetting that children, anywhere, believe they aren’t beautiful. I think this ideal of beauty creates an innate sense of insecurity to anyone growing up in this type of environment. People are afraid to express their individuality in a homogeneous society which can cause a lot of frustration.
Being a foreigner in Korea doesn’t mean you’re unaffected by their standard of beauty. The first thing people look at is whether you have a small face and big eyes. And by merely just walking into any clothing or beauty store in Korea, don’t be surprised if the assistant puts their fist up to measure the size of your face. But I am by no means trying to rant on cultural experiences, au contraire! Being amassed in the pool of style inspired individuals from a varying number of countries at SFW has brought a new light on what is considered to be fashionable. I think I’ve struggled with the idea of what it means to be stylish because to me, style was always something that someone else had excepting me. I think I’ve looked into the same images for too long and thought that what all the fashion influencers were wearing was considered to be style. And as a result, thought of myself as having none.
It seems I have too been affected by the overwhelming approach to fashion that Koreans have taken and have bought into this consumerist notion that you must buy into the current trends to be relevant and taken seriously as someone who possesses some form of style. I do not believe in fast fashion nor do I consume an abundance of pieces but I have been experiencing this pressure to conform to this norm, not only displayed by Koreans on the street but by an array of fashion bloggers and influencers online. My experience at SFW has been overwhelmingly positive as I saw for the first time here, that style was more than that. It was more than the outwardly aesthetic that the culture emphasises, but more on the beauty of individualism and standing out and being different.
To all the foreigners who came out at DDP and paid homage to their own sense of style and displayed proudly their difference and showcased their stories through their fashion was awe inspiring to see. It made me realise that style was not something found in a magazine or on an Instagram feed, but it was something that we owned, something which we possessed, and it was unique in all of us. And it has given me more motivation than ever to continue on this road in fashion, to continue creating content for this blog, and to show confidence in what I do as I pave my own path and exude my own style.
I hope this post has inspired you in some way to be confident in expressing your own sense of style. Thank you for reading!
All photos were taken by Jeff Simone