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Giving young fashion designers a space to meet the world

Sept 20,2017
Model Han Hyun-min walks down the runway during the Royal Layor show at Fashion KODE on Monday. [FASHION KODE]
Kim Young-chul
Fashion KODE held its 2018 Spring/Summer opening ceremony on Monday at the S-Factory in Seongsu-dong, eastern Seoul. Attended by people from throughout the fashion scene, the event opened the three-day marketplace for new designers to meet buyers from in and outside of Korea. Starting off with a fashion show from Firstad on Monday, rookie designers were given the opportunity to spotlight their garments.

Since its launch in 2013 by the Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca), Fashion KODE has been held twice each year in time for Seoul Fashion Week, introducing new and young fashion brands across Korea to buyers from home and abroad.

“We sought to offer a chance for new designers to make their way abroad,” said Kim Young-chul, Vice President of Kocca in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily. “By holding the event separately from Seoul Fashion Week, we’re taking a more aggressive approach to our initiative. If the Fashion Week is a fashion event for established designers, our event gives more independence to younger ones.”

Starting Monday, the 112 young designers were each given a place in the exhibit halls, as well as time slots to meet with at least one or more buyers. The venue, S-Factory, is a remodeled factory that was abandoned for a long time, until it was turned into a cultural venue by the Seoul Metropolitan Government earlier this year. Rather than the neat and tidy atmosphere of a typical showroom or gallery, the refurbished factory space has a trendy worn out feel, adding a unique touch to the fashion gala.

“We found that when the wild vibe of the factory meets fashion, the two can converge to create a totally different outcome, as can be seen at S-Factory,” said Kim. “The young designers are wild. They’re not afraid to break conventional ideas of design, and they always strive to have their own voice. They have the potential, the demand and the talent to make it anywhere in the world, but just not the means to get themselves to overseas markets. That’s what we’re trying to do, to get them to the global arena.”

This autumn’s theme for Fashion KODE, is to “Discover” three things: space, time and the designers. A networking party held on the night of the opening allowed for designers and buyers to meet each other in a casual setting with drinks and music. The rooftop party was open to all attendees, including the designers, buyers, models and celebrities.

“We didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity, because in Korea you don’t get the chance like this to meet with so many designers and other buyers at one place,” said David Kang, creative director at Hogyster, a content creation start-up. “We’ve been to similar events in London, and so we were worried that this [Fashion KODE] won’t be as good as those we went to before. But coming here, we were able to actually find quite a lot of designers that we saw would go well with our company.”

“Our fashion industry has the potential to become one of the leading industries of the domestic market. But because young designers don’t have the large-scale manufacturing tools like big brands and big-name designers, they can’t compete with the cheap prices on their own. And because Korean people seem to focus more on the foreign brands, we need to build a stronger foundation for the fresh designers to grow on,” said Kim.

Kim expressed his hopes to “make Fashion KODE into a new style of fashion fair, with more creative and more charming cultural expos in the future.”

Wednesday’s fashion show begins with a joint runway show by Chinese brand “EYE OF P” and Italian brand “Jamais Lundi” at 11:30 a.m., followed by Vassilly at 2 p.m. The final show of the whole event will be held by Navyfactory Lab at 4:30 p.m. The closing day will be attended by celebrities such as singer Hwangbo, Kim Jung-ah from girl group After School and actress Han Min-chae.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]