Korean Fashion Designers Are About to Take Over New York

While Korean fashion has taken Asian markets by storm, it has only recently begun to expand to New York City's fashion scene, where Korean brands are mostly featured in high-end Fashion Week runway shows and pop-up stores. But permanent stores are also opening in Manhattan, such as Boyoung Kim’s boutique, which will debut on the Upper West Side. From classic-chic fashionistas to Lower East Side hipsters, young New Yorkers are constantly searching for the latest in fashion, and Korean designers might satisfy their craving. 

Korean brands feature prominently in fall 2013's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, from Son Jung Wan’s elegant pastel colors to Beyond Closet, which could be described as “Tommy Hilfiger with a distinctly Korean sensibility.” Both designers' pieces allude to their Asian roots without being overwhelmed by them.

The designers' universal appeal isn't unprecedented. Phillip Lim, the cofounder of the fashion label 3.1 Phillip Lim told the New York Times that Chinese American designers have been successful because their work is tailored towards the “global citizen.” Take, for example, Taiwanese American designer Alexander Wang; the Huffington Post found that his “minimalistic” contours appeal to “every stylish woman in America.” Popular Korean brands have managed to blend their influences, making their clothes marketable on a global scale.

Successful Korean labels have benefited from New York’s pop-up store culture. In July, the Metropolitan Pavilion showcased a wide selection of Korean textiles in the trade show Korean Preview in New York. Even though they're impermanent, such shops have helped up-and-coming designers break into the U.S. market.

Luckily, a handful of long-term Korean boutiques have also opened around Manhattan. Most are tucked in between bohemian cafes and cute vintage stores in Nolita. Fitting the vibe of this hip and eclectic neighborhood, min-k nyc (the store's name, pronounced as "mink," is a play on the designer Minji Kim's name) is stocked with vintage and retro floral prints with a Korean flair. One block away, the dresses in Baby Blue Line, Ltd. ( or “bbL”) evoke “a Far Eastern kind of toile,” according to New York Magazine.

Korean brands don't just appeal to hipsters and vintage lovers; many of the boutiques feature business attire. The suits and dresses at Jaeyoon Jeong Collection are especially appropriate for young men and women who are looking for upscale business wear. The designs are elegant and clean-cut, aptly capturing the essence of Korean fashion.

Jaeyoon Jeong Collection, min-k nyc, and Baby Blue Line, Ltd. demonstrate the cross-cultural versatility of Korean fashion, and its growing mainstream appeal in America's fashion capital. Keep an eye out for an increasing number of Korean boutiques in New York City, and their growing impact on the fashion scene in general.