As Seoul Fashion Week kicks off, director Jeon Mi-kyung on helming the season in the pandemic
Seoul Fashion Week kicked off on Monday, with an entirely virtual format, plenty of activity and a new ambassador inside the Korean capital.
With new central locations and over 40 designers, the season began livestreaming this morning, principally from runways inside the National Museum of Korea and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Backed by Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul Fashion Week will run from March 22 to 27. This season, it named actress and activist Bae Doona to be its new ambassador. One of the icons of Louis Vuitton’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, Bae Doona has already begun appearing in promo videos broadcast in New York’s Times Square.
All told, designers will unveil their ideas in five different locations, including Seonyudo Park and the Oil Tank Culture Park. In other innovations, outdoor catwalk events will be filmed by using drones. Leenalchi, an alternative band famous for its song Tiger is Coming, will perform at the opening ceremony, and DJ Peggy Gou will perform at the finale.
Ever since Gangnam Style took the world by storm, K-pop heroes won global followings and Korean brands of the ilk of Wooyoungmi and Muun began winning critical raves, fashion insiders have paid particular attention to Korea.
So we caught up with Jeon Mi-kyung, the very busy director of Seoul Fashion Week, for her take on what’s new and different in Korea.
FashionNetwork.com: Why have you decided to move locations?
Jeon Mi-kyung: When the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a masterpiece of Zaha Hadid, was opened, fashion people in Seoul were unable to hide their excitement and were extremely grateful that such a wonderful space could be used as a fashion week stage. But after seven years, compared to other fashion weeks with runways in historical and symbolic venues throughout the city, Seoul Fashion Week's runway seemed rather limited, many designers wanted to showcase their collections in a new space. The global pandemic situation eased the burden of a huge physical event arrangement gathering the international press, buyers and VIP and we thought about expanding the runways to all parts of Seoul. We wanted to turn locations that encapsulate the diverse charms of Seoul into runways, where designers could express their ideas in a free way. Thanks to the support of Seoul Metropolitan Government, we could use places such as the National Museum of Korea, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) that have not been used for those type of events before. This experience offered a new energy for designers who were somewhat exhausted by Covid-19 situation. We will keep finding more beautiful and diverse spaces in various parts of Seoul and turn them into show stages.
What innovations are you most excited about in next week’s season?
Unlike February 2020, where we were under obligation to cancel the fashion week in preparation, we now know which direction to take. Physical runways cannot be the only option anymore. We’ll take these uncertain times as an opportunity to bring something new to SFW. In addition to runways, SFW and Korean brands will, through various projects, show the potential of Seoul.
Why have you chosen Bae Doona to be your ambassador?
Bae Doona is the first ever South Korean brand ambassador for Louis Vuitton and creative director Nicolas Ghesquière's muse. She is also considered a representative actress in Korea who has appeared in various movies, including the works of Oscar winning director Bong Joon-ho. As SFW will be offering a digital experience, Korean designers regret not being able to meet foreign press & buyers. To overcome this “pandemic reality”, promoting SFW through a global icon as influential as Bae Doona was important. And as a fashionista representing the Korean fashion scene, she did not hesitate to join us.
How many shows are planned?
Twenty-six brands for Seoul Collection and 17 for Next Generation.
How many events are planned?
Leenalchi, one of the latest sensations in the Korean music scene, will be the opening headliner and globally known DJ Peggy Gu will perform on the finale stage.
Will any events be actually live?
Runways and events have been pre-produced and will be livestreamed through each channel during SFW. Some live-commerce by KOL will take place, after SFW.
Is Seoul Fashion Week a private company or an industry federation? How does it operate?
Unlike other weeks, SFW is sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government without any private partners: The Seoul Metropolitan Government supports the budget and the general director of SFW is in charge of the overall supervision and direction.
What is your budget?
About 5 billion won (€3.7 billion) per year.
How many buyers, editors or influencers do you expect to attend?
We are making various efforts to attract more people. We expect to hit the highest number, taking advantage of digital tools.
Who are your ten favorite designers?
Aimons by Jaehyun Kim: Even before the international press started to have any interest in SFW, Jaehyun Kim has always been one of the most loved Korean designers by international buyers. She rejoined SFW last season after a gap of some years and we are more than happy to host her on our runways again. Both Bae Doona and Peggy Gou will be wearing Aimons - it highlights the popularity of Aimons in Korea and we are really excited about this brand.
Others are: Partsparts, for its sustainable collection; Beyond Closet, one of brands that Korean celebrities love to wear; Seokwoon Yoon, SFW’s rising rookie; A Bell with its virtual runway; Hanacha, for its conceptual collection; Painters, which shows creativity and youthful get-up-and-go; Notknowing, already a favorite on the street style scene; and BMuet(te) and Lie with their stable collections appreciated by buyers.
How did you become director of Seoul Fashion Week?
When I was in the fashion magazine industry (including at Elle Korea, Vogue Korea and Harper’s Bazaar Korea) I experienced countless fashion weeks in Paris, New York, London and Milan. I still remember how I was surprised, touched and envious while covering those fashion weeks. My belief that Seoul would one day be reborn as a global fashion city and my wish to transform SFW as a platform that fits its global status led me, I believe, to the position of director of Seoul Fashion Week. The moment where the well-executed and creative works of Korean designers and the sophisticated K-culture will shine the global market is not that far away!
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