SEOUL - Hundreds of Chinese fans were in a frenzy at the opening of Seoul Fashion Week, when K-pop boy group Exo took the catwalk presenting the latest works by young Korean designers.
Launched in 2000, the event has emerged as one of Asia's most prestigious showcases thanks to gorgeous collections, dazzling stage design and the popularity of South Korean television dramas and music overseas.
"K-pop and Korean dramas play an important role in attracting attention to Korean fashion," said Mr Griffin Chan, senior buyer of Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong. He is among 125 foreign buyers including 82 from China and Hong Kong.
His colleague Tony Lee, merchandising manager of the company, praised Korean design for its creativity and attention to detail. Especially among aficionados of the Korean Wave, "what celebrities wear on TV dramas boosts interest in Korean fashion", he said.
Seoul Fashion Week, which started on March 21, is considered the second-most influential show in Asia after Tokyo Fashion Week. Some designer brands that present regular collections at the event have entered high-profile multi-fashion shops in Asia and beyond.
Menswear brands Cy Choi, Juun.J and Songzio are featured in the MC2 showroom in Paris. S Style Group in Kuwait imports Korean designer brands such as Lie Sang Bong and Kumann Yoo Hye Jin. Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong showcases Steve J & Yoni P, pushButton, Arche and Kosoyoung.
Seoul Design Foundation, one of the fashion week organisers, has pledged to help designers enter Asian fashion markets. "The Korean Wave, hallyu, is driving the popularity of not just music, but also fashion. The Seoul Fashion Week will give further momentum to designers eyeing the Asian market, among others, and we will also back them up," said Mr Baek Jong Won, chief executive officer of the foundation.
For this year's autumn-winter collections, designers presented nicely tailored coats and jackets that featured combinations of different fabrics and details. Steve J & Yoni P presented their signature lace, see-through trench coat with flower motifs.
The duo offered a unique take on pinstripes and military-style jackets. The conventional expressions were mixed with corset motifs, lace and flower patterns, which added fun to the look.
Johnny Hates Jazz showed a variety of winter outerwear with a crescent detail inspired by the Vikings. The long grey, black coats pleased with their gold crescent accessories on the lapels and sleeves.
Although womenswear shows take centre stage at fashion week, it is the menswear collections that attract the most favourable responses from foreign buyers and the press every season.
"Menswear designers are talented. Their designs are unique and creative," said Ms Nathalie Cazeaud Hillaire of MC2 showroom in Paris.
Mr Chan lauded the presentation of Moonsoo Kwon, who used a key and a door as symbols of hope, and Cy Choi's attention to detail in his menswear collection, which set it apart from other designers' creations.