Everyone is so surprised when I mention Korean inspiration and, full disclosure, I really do love everything about Korea! After first encountering Korean clothing brands in Australia, I immediately wanted to visit the east Asian peninsula in order to immerse myself in my new fashion culture discovery.
When I’m travelling, I always select countries to visit for specific reasons. I went to Japan just for the food – I just love sushi so much – I went to Madagascar for the Baobab trees, and to New Orleans for Jazz, so when I decided to go to South Korea – the Republic of Korea – for the first time, it was purely for the fashion
Handily, I was in Japan when I decided to detour. Departing Osaka, when I got to Seoul, it was a different energy and – OMG – I absolutely loved it and didn’t want to leave.
The moment I arrived, everyone I saw – from the elders to the kids – were all so stylish. I didn’t see anyone badly dressed at all. From that moment, I knew I was in the right place.
Fashion in Korea is something else. There are late-night markets in Dongdaemun that are open from 8pm till 8am. The first time I went there, in 2017, I shopped so much. Two years later, I was back, but this time to source a manufacturer.
As Stories We Cherish is inspired by Korean cuts and style, I wanted to be super-authentic and get my pieces made in Korea. I had originally gone for two weeks, but I ended up extending my stay for another six. The food, the fashion, the people I met… I thought when you visit a place for a second time, you have a high chance of an inferior experience, but my second was another level.
Dongdaemun had the biggest textile market I had ever seen. I got completely lost in it – literally! It was a maze, but a maze I never wanted to find my way out of. The language struggle was real, and with not even Google to help, my friend eventually offered to be my translator. With him at hand we explored the market looking for manufacturers and printers, and finally found a place that printed and embroidered. Language issues resolved, they actually produced my first t-shirts.
So how else did I fill my six weeks? I ate amazing food – nothing beats Korean fried chicken or a Korean barbeque – and I went to an Afrobeats dance class and an African drumming session. I also sat in fancy cafes – the coffee shop culture there is so good.
Oh, and I cycled by the river, I shopped too much, I was photographed at Seoul fashion week and I went to a derelict theme park called Yongma Land which was the highlight of my trip.
So, yes, I admit it: if I could go to Seoul every month I would…although I have heard Busan fashion is even better, so keep an eye out for future reports!