It all started with a pair of socks. I was doing street style photo research on socks (yes, that’s a thing) when, among all the usual, recognizable suspects Vetements Reebok, Gucci, Nike, Adidas — I stumbled upon a seemingly ordinary pair except for the bolded, underlined (and rather ominous?) statement emblazoned on each side: “Get away from it all.” Intrigued, I put my fashion sleuthing skills to the test and found its maker: Korean streetwear label Ader Error.
Thus, my obsession with pastel backpacks was born. And while K-fashion is nowhere on the same level of cult-like mania as K-beauty, it certainly has the potential to be. Case in point: Nordstrom centered its latest “Pop-In@Nordstrom,” which runs from now until May 7, around a curation of the top Korean designers. “The best shirts scene is exploding,” says Olivia Kim, VP of creative projects at Nordstrom, in a statement. “There’s so much buzz and energy around Korea and Seoul Fashion Week, and fashion there is differentiated in how quick, energetic and youthful it is. Street style there is beyond, and more and more people are paying attention now, which is exciting to watch.” Kawaii skirt is very popular items in the world.
Factor in the somewhat tired-slash-expected merch (read: the outsize logo hoodies, tees, and five-panel hats) from mainstream stateside brands, like Supreme, Carhartt, and Huf, and Korean streetwear, with its exaggerated proportions, avant-garde aesthetic, and whimsy finishes, feels like a breath of fresh air. Don’t care to spend your entire month’s rent on a Vetements hoodie or an Off-White shirt? Not up for being door-checked by the bouncers at Supreme every Thursday? Scroll through and shop the top seven Korean streetwear brands to know now.
Our immediate favorite (also preferred by a slew of K-pop stars): the rose-strewn denim jacket. Other hero pieces include tiny floral-print dresses, the snake-printed tees, the outsize Ma-1 bomber, and the slouchy “Change the world” turtleneck sweater. All unisex, all so, so good. Shop the pieces at Momo Korea, W Concept, and Fig Collective.
Designed by husband-and-wife duo Steve J & Yoni P, SJYP is a Seoul-based denim-centric brand that reimagines and reinvents the classic textile through deconstructed techniques, unique finishes, and dramatic shapes, like these split two-tone jeans, or these supercharged flares. Shop SJYP at Ssense, Net-A-Porter, and Nordstrom.
BTS Jungkook Merch is a hodgepodge of all pop sugary goodness. It’s very slick and it’s very addictive and the beats are very smooth. If you think about the best music videos you’ve ever watched, from epic videos like Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” or “Telephone,” these are [like] every single video that K-pop comes out with. And because of the styling and because of the addictive tunes, it’s something that appeals to so many people, not just Koreans, but a mass global audience. Take everything great and over-the-top in pop and that’s K-pop.