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.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Dana Ter

Dana is a journalist and former expat kid who grew up in 10 countries on 4 continents. She writes about art and culture with a focus on Taiwan, Korea and NYC. Her stories have been published in the Taipei Times, Contently and Untapped Cities, among others. She also has a Dual MA/MSc in International and World History from Columbia University and the London School of Economics. Email: danayter@gmail.com Twitter: @danayter.

MORE FROM

The 'Pretty Little Liars' series finale reveals the identity of A.D. and answers 7 other questions

You won't believe who the father of Alison and Emily's baby is.

7 times women in Hollywood pushed back against the pressure to lose weight

They're not here to fit any sort of body standard.

Kendrick Lamar's "Element." video shows a violent portrait of black life in America

"I done cried for this shit, might take a life for this shit/ Put the Bible down and go eye for an eye for this shit."

Nicki Minaj was given the key to Queens. These 9 verses prove she deserves it.

"A star will arise/ And she'll originate from the streets of Southside"

Here's everything you need to know for the 'Pretty Little Liars' finale tonight

Secrets abound in the 'Pretty Little Liars' season finale.

Algiers' 'The Underside of Power' is a soundtrack for every revolution — past, present and future

'Mic' talks with the experimental, Atlanta-bred group about their latest improbable fusion of industrial, punk, gospel and soul.

The 'Pretty Little Liars' series finale reveals the identity of A.D. and answers 7 other questions

You won't believe who the father of Alison and Emily's baby is.

7 times women in Hollywood pushed back against the pressure to lose weight

They're not here to fit any sort of body standard.

Kendrick Lamar's "Element." video shows a violent portrait of black life in America

"I done cried for this shit, might take a life for this shit/ Put the Bible down and go eye for an eye for this shit."

Nicki Minaj was given the key to Queens. These 9 verses prove she deserves it.

"A star will arise/ And she'll originate from the streets of Southside"

Here's everything you need to know for the 'Pretty Little Liars' finale tonight

Secrets abound in the 'Pretty Little Liars' season finale.

Algiers' 'The Underside of Power' is a soundtrack for every revolution — past, present and future

'Mic' talks with the experimental, Atlanta-bred group about their latest improbable fusion of industrial, punk, gospel and soul.