South Korea's traditional hanbok dress becomes newly fashionable
What was once formal wear for special occasions finds favour among the young and hip
CBC News Posted: Mar 30, 2016 5:01 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 30, 2016 5:01 AM ET
Young Koreans like these, out in the Samcheongdong neighbourhood of Seoul on March 27, have taken to wearing traditional hanbok dress while walking around downtown on weekends.
Hanbok style picks up some modern touches.
A woman's hanbok is typically two-piece (a high skirt and petticoat) with a long-sleeved top. The ensemble was traditionally paired with a headpiece and special footwear, but now a smartphone and running shoes are more common accessories.
Traditional formal wear you can still throw in the wash.
Hanbok designs are still largely bespoke and picking one out typically begins at a fabric store. Companies like Leesle, however, which brands itself "Korea's everyday hanbok company," have replaced traditional tie-ups with zippers and made their skirts machine washable and less bulky for everyday wear.
A search for #hanbok on Instagram speaks to the style's rise in popularity.
오직 리슬에서만 볼 수 있는 디자인 "두루마기 재킷"이 봄을 담아 돌아왔습니다. 먼저 소개해드릴 컬러는 "코발트블루"입니다. 선명한 컬러감은 얼굴빛을 좀 더 밝고 청명한 느낌을 주면서도 신비로운 매력까지 더해진답니다. 리슬 두루마기 재킷은 두루마기에서 영감을 받아 군더더기 없이 심플하게 떨어지는 핏이 매력적인 아이템입니다. 아우터로도 입을 수 있지만 단독 원피스처럼 착용할 수도 있는 다재다능한 재킷이에요. 허리라인을 넣어 착용 시 슬림한 허리라인을 잡아줍니다. S(44~55), M(66)사이즈만 판매되었지만 봄 신제품에는 L(77)사이즈도 추가되었습니다. _ #리슬#leesle 리슬 공식 온라인샵 http://leesle.com _ #선홍색도예뻐요#만능아이템
Hanbok got a high fashion boost last year.
The French fashion giant Chanel looked to traditional South Korean dress for its 2015 cruise collection, which designer Karl Lagerfeld unveiled in Seoul last May.
Drawing inspiration from the clothes of the Chosun dynasty, which ran from 1392 to 1910, Lagerfeld told reporters after the show that he "loved traditional Korean clothes, materials and patterns" and that the timing of the show, Chanel's first in South Korea, was just "the right moment to do it."
From K-pop to K-beauty: South Korea is a trend-setter.
Many will be familiar with Korean pop music, or at least the term K-pop, with Psy's Gangnam Style (still the most-viewed video on YouTube ever) representing Korea's latest musical mass export. Makeup is another.
South Korea's skin-care market, collectively known as "K-beauty" in North America, is already well-established and highly profitable.
Last year K-beauty-related exports amounted to a record $2.6 billion US, according to a BBC business report. The bulk of those exports were to the U.S. (That's another shot from the Chanel show below.)
Hanbok is still the dress for formal occasions.
Prior to the rise of hanbok as street wear, the traditional costume was most commonly seen at special occasions like coming-of-age day (the third Monday of May) and ceremonies held every March 1 commemorating resistance to the Japanese occupation.
Hanbok style is spreading beyond Korea.
Driving the rise of Seoul as a fashion capital are visitors like this woman, browsing hanbok-inspired dresses at the Lotte department store in February.
Tourists from neighbouring countries are reportedly buying less from global luxury mainstays like Louis Vuitton and Chanel in favour of homegrown brands, as young, independent and fashion conscious travellers make up more of the country's tourism.
Despite its rise in popularity, hanbok remains rooted in tradition.
A couple wearing traditionally cut hanbok take a sunset stroll in Seoul on Feb. 9 to mark the the Lunar New Year.