Backstage At Concept Korea

While it’s easy to get caught up in the vast amount of local designers at NYFW, Concept Korea is here to remind us that talent knows no bounds.

Bringing together a few of South Korea’s most prominent designers in one show, Concept Korea tapped BESFXXK, Cahiers, and ULKIN for this year’s lineup.

In a snapshot of the dynamism that took place, we saw sartorial silhouettes such as smoking blazers followed by prep-style staples and upcycled workwear all make their presence known on the runway.

Amongst those sitting front row were Trinidad James, Mariama Diallo, and 2023 ambassador, Hyoyeon Kim. Backstage after the show, we caught up with Hyoyeon to get her insight into this year’s designers.

As one of K-Pop’s biggest acts since 2007, Hyoyeon knows what it means to be a trailblazer in her category and the importance of supporting up-and-coming talent. “I’ve always been interested in fashion. It can’t be separated from what I do as an artist, so it’s a great opportunity to be here at NYFW to lift up these talents.”

When we asked which collection she was most impressed with Hyoyeon responded, “It’s a difficult question to answer. Cahiers for their femininity and romance. ULKIN for their sexy approach to streetwear. BESFXXK for their wearable structures that I can utilize daily.”

Read more from the designers at this year’s Concept Korea below:

BESFXXK – Designed by Bona Kim

In which ways have you reexamined current trends in your designs this season?

BESFXXK combines classic and sporty styles in elevated hybrid designs. This season continues this theme but re-examines more wearable silhouettes that fit in with current trends.

What challenges have you faced in the fashion industry’s largely traditional system?

Bespoke tailoring and craftmanship seem to be disappearing, and we still prioritize these values.

In which ways do you see your brand creating a new future for fashion?

Our goal is to have a more global presence beyond individual cities, so were are looking at Paris, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, and more.

Cahiers – Designed by Kim Ayoung

What served as the main inspiration for this collection?

For this collection, we’ve taken classic elements from the preppy look and combined them with Cahiers’ feminine sensibility to create a “preppy look for adults” concept.

Which piece are you most excited about?

In this collection, we headed more in the direction of street sensibility rather than Cahiers’ signature feminine mood so I’m looking forward to seeing how this will play out on the runway.

What other brands do you think are doing it well right now, or doing things differently?

I think the Korean brand MÜNN is attracting much attention in the overseas market. New York Fashion Week has opened the opportunity for them to take their first step overseas. I hope it will be a chance for them to grow into a brand that can attract the attention of many people in the fashion industry.

ULKIN – Designed by Lee Sung Dong

What’s the most obscure item you’ve upcycled for your collection?

Upcycling bags made with discarded paintings is a signature item since ULKIN started. Each item is a one-of-a-kind, real artwork. It’s the core of the brand, our foundation, and the source of the designs we create.

How has being a part of Concept Korea influenced your work?

It is a huge challenge to be in NYFW by ourselves as an independent brand based in Asia, but Concept Korea is the gateway or maybe a fast track to globally showcase the collection and promote the brand.

What other brands do you think are doing it well right now, or doing things differently?

Ganni and Maison Mihara Yasuhiro. Both brands are similar in concept and direction to ULKIN and we think it is important to be outstanding in the market and business model.

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