Seoul Fashion Week: From Cottweiler to Kate Moss

Was it a coincidence that Kate Moss was spotted fresh off the plane in Seoul the very same week as the city’s bi-annual fashion week took place? Well, unfortunately, it seems yes – there have been no sightings to report of the supermodel at any shows this season (though reportedly she was in town for a fashion event). But that didn’t deter from the buzz that Seoul, as arguably the emerging fifth fashion capital, had to offer.  

Backstage at the Cottweiler Fall/Winter 2019 show in Seoul. Photos: Courtesy of Seoul Fashion Week.

“This is a totally new experience for us and we didn’t know what to expect,” enthused Ben Cottrell of London menswear label Cottweiler, which joined the schedule this time as part of a new sponsorship team-up between Seoul Fashion Week and the British Fashion Council, the only international label to do so. “It’s been really inspiring to do something here; it’s like a brand-new challenge,” continued Cottrell, his co-designer Matthew Dainty, in agreement. “There’s a different energy for sure; there’s a real passion.”

The designers had restaged their Autumn/Winter 2019 collection especially for the occasion but made a few additions, showcasing some pieces that had previously not been seen as well as adding a new element. “London was quite subculture-related with all of those masculine codes. This was more about feminine touches,” explained Dainty. “More eveningwear.” Which was a direction that really suited them, it has to be said. As must the fact that even having already seen the collection the first time round in London, this didn’t feel like a repeat at all. 

Backstage at the Cottweiler Fall/Winter 2019 show in Seoul. Photos: Courtesy of Seoul Fashion Week.

Cottweiler in Seoul: it was the perfect exchange, keeping in mind the prevalence of streetwear and sportswear here, which is far from a faddy trend but a definable style trait – a slick and precise interpretation which is part of the Cottweiler DNA. 

But Seoul has plenty of its own star designers, too: see our pick of some of the best collections and looks here. And three standout names to note are Minjukim, D-Antidote, and Munn, all of whom have very different aesthetics (feminine and cute; a sporty finesse; rich and layered, respectively) to counter the archetypes. Which is what makes Seoul Fashion Week such a creative hub – in line with London – to be. 

Backstage at the D-Antidote Fall/Winter 2019 show in Seoul. Photo: Courtesy of Seoul Fashion Week.

“Honestly, I want to be one of the greatest. I will try and we will see,” said Maxxi J’s Lee Jaehyeong backstage when asked about his plans for the future. The designer, who had been inspired by the idea of extra-terrestrials for Autumn/Winter 2019, trained at London College of Fashion and made his menswear debut at Seoul Fashion Week in 2017. “I love fashion shows, and I think more and more I’m getting better; there are more possibilities.” 

Hence why something like sponsorship and exchange programmes – for which there are plans to be rolled out further – make for such a great idea. Everyone benefits. 

Backstage at the MAXXIJ Fall/Winter 2019 show in Seoul. Photos: Courtesy of Seoul Fashion Week.

And notably because Seoul loves fashion in a way that can get lost among the big four capitals. There’s excitement and enthusiasm – and it goes beyond the looks on the catwalk. Street style is next level but authentic, devoted and experimental. Shows are packed out with fans and the public as well as the press and buyers. And while a penchant for hybrid styles remained from last season, and no doubt before that, this season saw a shaking off of such blanket trends in favour of something that’s well worth coming back to see again next time, with or without Kate Moss.