Seoul Fashion Week, hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and operated by the Seoul Design Foundation, is not just Korea’s biggest fashion show, but is also Korea’s top business event for Korean fashion designers. One of the highlights of the festival is the “Generation Next” program, which showcases collections by designers of independent brands with one to five years’ experience.
During Seoul Fashion Week, designers unveil their new clothing lines for the next season, buyers plan their next big purchase, and the media critiques each designer and collection. Fashion week gives designers a huge opportunity to market their clothes and make a name for themselves in the world of fashion, both at home and abroad. Celebrities, who always make an appearance as models in the fashion shows, also attract many people inside and outside the venue.
Seoul Fashion Week was created with the goal of becoming the world’s top fifth fashion week after New York, Paris, London and Milano, and focuses on nurturing aspiring new designers and supporting global designers.
Since 2008, Seoul Fashion Week has included the “Generation Next” program, which showcases the work of up-and-coming designers who have been active in the industry for less than five years. Participations in the program are provided with funding, models, and direction. In 2010, Seoul Fashion Week also added the “Seoul’s 10 Soul” program, in which ten designers with global competitiveness are selected and provided with support in terms of overseas marketing.
After these and other programs were introduced to Seoul Fashion Week, foreign buyers and the press began to take more notice of the event. The number of foreign buyers and press that visit Korea for Seoul Fashion Week has risen steadily since 2010, and saw an even greater increase with the opening of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in 2014. With the rising recognition of the Seoul Fashion Week, the goal of becoming among the world’s top five fashion weeks has become attainable.
Approximately 1,000 foreign buyers and members of the press visit Korea each year for Seoul Fashion Week. These visitors, which are leaders in their fields, not only stimulate the regional economy during their visit, but also promote Korean fashion trends upon their return back home through SNS and other media outlets. These promotional efforts have a huge domino effect on Korean fashion and the Korean economy—an effect that cannot be calculated into monetary terms.
The Seoul fashion industry has experienced great difficulties in recent years due to the economic depression and the entry of global SPA companies into the domestic market. However, Korean designers have continued to follow their passions and have sought a way to a break away from the saturated domestic market—Seoul Fashion Week offers these designers the ideal solution.
K-fashion, promoted through K-pop and K-drama, has already become a distinctive trend among Asian consumers, and Korea as a whole is at a point where it must nurture local designers and brands in connection with Hallyu stars to succeed.
Seoul Fashion Week not only plays an important role in promoting Korean fashion, but also has become a beacon of hope and inspiration to aspiring designers. The influence of the event extends far beyond the catwalk and Seoul’s advanced fashion designs and serves to introduce Korea’s fashion ecosystem—including the elaborate sewing techniques of Dongdaemun—to the entire world. This is why Seoul Fashion Week is seen by many as not just a typical fashion event, but at as a major business event that is a driving force in Korea’s economic and fashion future.