Despite the rapid rise of Korea’s fashion industry over the past ten years, Korean brands still often play second fiddle to their European, American, and Japanese counterparts. After all, it’s only been thirty years since South Korea’s first modern democratic election, which resulted in greater personal and artistic freedom for its citizens, and less than ten since Seoul Fashion Week solidified into its current, internationally competitive form. So even though there are Korean and Korean American designers getting shine in New York, Paris, and beyond, it’s rare to find a Western consumer decked out in Korean brands or an American or European store that carries more than a handful of them.

Yet, Korea’s highly skilled and speedy factories, as well as projects like Concept Korea—which has sponsored Korean designers at New York Fashion Week since 2010—are helping to bridge the gap between the country and the fashion industry’s superpowers, while also creating a meaningful artistic exchange with places like the US. The following spotlight on contemporary Korean and Korean-American designers is by no means comprehensive and isn’t meant to be; instead, it’s offered as a sample of the growing aesthetic diversity within Korean fashion and as a starting point to explore the growing ranks of exceptional Korean brands.

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