Korean fashion brands have been causing a stir at home and around the world thanks to a number of innovative designers that have created their own unique styles, as well as fusing Korean influences into existing global trends. With a growing wave of Korean culture, known as Hallyu, influencing more and more of Western society, it’s hard to miss the fresh designs that are featured by phenomenal acts such as BTS, TWICE, and Black Pink.
Fueled by a rising affluent generation of millennials that demand unique pieces that can be matched easily with existing wardrobes, Korean brands are here to shake up established Western fashions, just as they have with K-Pop, TV, and movies. Korea is now the world’s 7th largest luxury market, which traditionally favored established Western brands like Gucci and LV, but now appreciates the creative talents of local designers and brands. This has given those brands the confidence to march on the established fashion world order, introducing bold new designs that are being snapped up across Asia and the rest of the world.
- An Introduction to Korean Fashion Brands
- Top 10 Korean Fashion Brands 2022
- 1. KYE – Designer Streetwear
- 2. Minju Kim – Luxury Couture
- 3. Hyein Seo – High-end Streetwear
- 4. Tibaeg – Nature-inspired Designer Clothing
- 5. Style Nanda – Premium Women’s Clothing
- 6. Andersson Bell – Gender-free Japandi Style
- 7. LIE Collection – Modern Korean Fashion
- 8. SJYP – Designer Denim
- 9. Beyond Closet – Versatile Korean Clothing
- 10. 8 Seconds – Daily Clothing & Accessories
An Introduction to Korean Fashion Brands
Korean designs are challenging not only global fashion brands but also traditional cultural norms and values. Korean culture is one rooted in Confucianism, which seeks harmony and respect for each other at the expense of individuality and self-expression. Modern Korean fashion brands are slowly chipping away at this ideology, offering Korea’s youth the chance to reveal themselves, fight against the restrictions society places on them, and show their true colors. It’s not just young Koreans who appreciate this voice, many others look to the inspiration this fashion offers as a form of freedom and respect.
Whether you’ve noticed it or not, Korean fashion has already started making a splash in the West. Fashion retailers such as Net-A-Porter and Ssense already have a wide offering of Korean designers’ products and New York Fashion Week has hosted more than a few of the fashion brands shown in this article. International fashionistas jet to Korea to see the twice-yearly Seoul Fashion Week to discover the latest hot offerings that will be appearing in music videos, K-Dramas, and on the streets of Seoul.
Top 10 Korean Fashion Brands 2022
There’s more to Korean fashion than just traditional Korean hanbok. Start learning about modern Korean designs right now with these top 10 Korean fashion brands.
1. KYE – Designer Streetwear
One of the top Korean fashion brands that has been attracting attention in the USA recently is KYE by Kathleen Hanhee Kye, which was exhibited during the New York Fashion Week. The KYE style is based on pop streetwear that comes in bold, colorful pieces that are adorned with intricate details. This Korean fashion brand aims to break the cycle of fast fashion by creating cutting edge, timeless designs that can be worn effortlessly and comfortably.
Based in Detroit, but trained at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London, this Korean fashion designer’s pieces have been worn by a number of celebrities, including Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, and Kanye West. Since graduating from the London design school in 2011, Kathleen has created her own eponymous label that has earned her a number of awards, including the LVMH (Louis Vuitton) Prize for Young Fashion Designers. KYE designs are now beloved in Seoul by Korea’s young influencers and fashionistas and are growing in popularity around the world.
2. Minju Kim – Luxury Couture
Since winning Netflix’s first season of ‘Next In Fashion’ in 2020, Minju Kim has grown by leaps and bounds, releasing a number of highly successful collections and collaborations. Minju Kim’s clothes are fun, imaginative, and feminine designs that feature daring silhouettes paired with bows, ruffles, and frills. The forward-thinking designs aren’t based on the latest trends but reflect a natural evolution of the world and Kim’s interpretation of it. Bright and unique, Minju Kim’s designs make you feel like you’re living in a fairytale and each collection brings something new.
Born in Seoul, Minju Kim graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts and went on to create her self-titled label following her success at the H&M Design Awards in 2013. Following on from her success on Next In Fashion, Minju Kim’s designs can now be purchased through the high fashion online mall, Net-A-Porter. Other feathers in Kim’s cap include creating couture for members of the world’s biggest pop group, BTS. She now has a second fashion brand called ‘Mbary’, which is a collaboration with innovative Korean fashion boutique, Åland, and based at its US store, American Dream.
3. Hyein Seo – High-end Streetwear
A Korean fashion brand that confronts Korean social ideals with its sexy Fairy Grunge style clothing, Hyein Seo is deservedly recognized as one of the top high-end streetwear labels in Korea. Rejecting the continual need for society’s approval and Korea’s strongly conservative views, Hyein Seo’s designs are challenging Confucian norms in Korea and empower women with their sexy looks and strong femininity. With design features including sultry straps, revealing cutouts, monochromatic textures, and immense silhouettes, Hyein Seo’s high-end designs are edgy, experimental, challenging, and immediately popular.
Another Seoul-based designer and graduate from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Hyein Seo has been taking on both the fashion industry and Korean norms before she even graduated. She presented at the New York Fashion Week while still studying, and won Best Designer at the International Fashion Showcase of the British Fashion Council in 2014. Seo won acclaim for her creative streetwear designs that shatter the glass ceiling and empowers women, collecting praise from Rihanna, who helped to promote Seo’s earlier works. Other notable fans include Bella Hadid, Kendrick Lamar, and Korean singer Taeyeon.
4. Tibaeg – Nature-inspired Designer Clothing
Tibaeg’s designs are a blend of natural calming colors, feminine silhouettes, and graphic prints that come together like a tea bag in hot water, hence the name. The tea bag metaphor is a constant for Tibaeg, with the designer, Eun Ae Cho, stating that each season’s designs can be effortlessly added to a collection, yet offer an elegant new taste each time, just like a fresh tea bag when it enters boiling water. The clothes released by Tibaeg bring forth visions of nature through sustainable textiles, impressive prints, and playful designs that are blended with traditional Korean characteristics that result in one of the best Bohemian Korean fashion brands available.
This up-and-coming Korean fashion brand by designer Eun Ae Cho started life as a T-shirt project in 2011 before Cho was selected for the fall/winter 2013 Seoul Fashion Week, featuring as a Generation Next designer. Looking to create beautiful, buoyant clothing that lifts the wearer up while showcasing the charms of the natural world and her Korean heritage, Cho has succeeded in bringing her sustainable and ethical designs to the masses. Tibaeg has gained international recognition through its collaborations with big brands, including Disney and Louis Quatorze.
5. Style Nanda – Premium Women’s Clothing
Style Nanda is one of Korea’s most popular fashion and makeup brands, with legions of fans across Korea and Asia. Thanks to the company’s innovative designs, Style Nanda has won over younger generations in Asia, who demand constantly evolving fashion and beauty designs at affordable prices. The distinct aesthetic of this brand has tapped into all things Hallyu, the Korean wave, riding on the success of Korean culture around the world. The designs are trendy, cute, and brash, with prices that are just within reach of Asia’s aspirational millennials. The brand also has a makeup label, 3CE, which offers the same recognizable style as its fashion items.
Style Nanda started life as an online used clothes store by Kim So Hee in 2004, growing in reputation and success thanks to its new products in both fashion and makeup. In 2018, L’Oreal bought a controlling stake in Style Nanda, a sign of the brand’s increasing popularity and potential for future expansion into global markets. With Korea’s rising influence in Western markets, Style Nanda is often the first stop for people looking to learn about Korean fashion.
6. Andersson Bell – Gender-free Japandi Style
Taking inspiration from Scandinavia, not just in name, but also in its approach to fashion, Andersson Bell offers a uniquely Korean twist on a European fashion style, Korea’s take on Japandi clothing. Blending minimalist Scandinavian styles with Seoul’s everyday urban streetwear, Andersson Bell’s fashion is an exciting contrast that offers timeless classics with a straightforward, yet eccentric design. The gender-free designs are clean, clear-cut, and distinctly Korean, incorporating unorthodox silhouettes and Seoul’s urban aesthetics.
Founded in 2014, this Seoul-based fashion brand has taken the fashion world by storm and moved from an everyday urban streetwear company into a luxury brand that is popular with young consumers in Asia and the rest of the world. Their gender-free designs have been popular in the West, allowing the brand to join Net-A-Porter in 2018 and earn celebrity endorsements that include Jungook from BTS, who wore Andersson Bell shoes during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards. This Korean fashion brand can now be found in over 20 countries through 100 different retailers.
7. LIE Collection – Modern Korean Fashion
The LIE Collection is a modern women’s fashion brand created by siblings Chung Chung Lee and Nana Lee, children of the legendary Korean designer, Lie Sang Bong – founder of the famous Korean fashion house Lie Sangbong. This Korean fashion brand is known for designing contemporary clothing that appeals to female fans of cyberpunk and e-girl clothing trends. The designs of the LIE Collection are for liberated women who want to express their inner power, along with their playful, creative side. Incorporating detailed tailoring, sculptural silhouettes, and a fusion of hues, as well as influences from Chung Chung Lee’s menswear designs, the LIE collection offers the elegance of their father’s designs at a more affordable price point.
With such a rich pedigree and education in the world of designer fashion, the Lee siblings decided to create their own collection and in 2011 the LIE Collection was born. Born and raised in Seoul’s fashion world, Chung Chung Lee has won acclaim for his personal label, but it is with his collaboration with his sister and the LIE Collection that he’s had the most success. The brand has grown across Asia and even has a store in New York City now.
8. SJYP – Designer Denim
SJYP, named after the designer couple Steve J and Yani P, is a modern Korean fashion brand that is riding high around the world these days thanks to its destroyed denim designs.
The use of blue denim, with its 90s nostalgia, updated with contemporary influences such as crinkles, cut-offs, rips, and unreserved shades, creates a design that feels both vintage and cutting-edge at the same time. The brand also offers logo t-shirts, knitwear, and jackets for men and women, although the brand predominantly caters to women.
This husband-and-wife design couple started SJYP in 2006 and has followed the wave of Korean cultural exports to help boost their global awareness. They won the Style Icon Awards Asia in 2016 and have become the must-have Korean label of choice for denim fans. Based in Seoul’s trendy Garosu-Gil district, but originally set up in London, crowds of young Koreans snap up SJYP goods at their store after seeing their latest K-Pop idols wearing them on stage. The alliance between K-Pop and SJYP’s designs has been long, with performers, including members of Girl’s Generation and Lee Hyori, favoring the brand thanks to the stylish visuals offered on stage.
9. Beyond Closet – Versatile Korean Clothing
Beyond Closet is a modern Korean menswear brand that offers up stylish and original pieces that are designed for young men and a wide range of occasions. The Beyond Closet style is a varsity-inspired marriage of smart streetwear and college prep fashion brought to life through trendy pieces that include sweaters, check shirts, and college jerseys. Featuring colorful logos, vibrant hues, and unique designs, this brand shakes up the typically softer shades you’d see from similar designs and breathes life into them. Popular with Korea’s youth, this fashion brand also has a women’s lineup.
Created by Ko Tae Yong in 2008, Beyond Closet has been well received by Korea’s fashion-conscious male youths. Success has been fueled by appearances in popular K-Dramas, such as the hit show ‘Boys Over Flowers’, where Ko was the on-set costume designer. Beyond Closet is now available in several parts of Asia, as well as in Australia.
10. 8 Seconds – Daily Clothing & Accessories
It wouldn’t be possible to discuss Korean fashion without introducing Korea’s largest fashion brand. Created in 2012, 8 Seconds is Korea’s answer to fashion powerhouses such as Zara and Uniqlo and is part of the Samsung group of companies. Today, the brand is known for its high-quality yet affordable products that are available to everyone, as well as premium options, such as exclusives with Korean celebrities. New collections are released frequently, allowing customers to keep on top of the latest fashion trends and to mix and match their styles for a low cost.
Backed by a sizeable marketing budget, the company has spread across Korea with dozens of large, brightly lit stores that carry a wide range of fashionable items at affordable prices. The chain moved into Chain in 2017, supported by a collaboration with K-Pop superstar G-Dragon from Big Bang, releasing the GD Collection for fans of modern Korean fashion and music. The company regularly releases exclusive collections inspired by other big-name Korean actors, musicians, and stars.