these portraits document what k-pop, k-beauty and k-fashion is right now
During Hera Seoul Fashion Week, London-based photographer Al de Perez documented a bold, new generation of artists, designers, musicians and models, reflecting Korea's latest youthquake.
Photography Al de Perez
Seoul Fashion Week’s mix of next generation design talent, its ability to translate global fashion trends for its local Generation Z to consume, and its engagement of youth all combine to set it apart from other fashion capitals.
“It feels so aesthetically different to what I see and experience in London, Milan and Paris,” London-based, globally-moving street style photographer Al de Perez explains. “Fashion and trends seem to move faster here than they do elsewhere. K-Pop and youth culture at large is a powerful force in Korea and its impact on street style shouldn’t be underestimated. If a K-Pop star wears a particular style or item then its often sold out from stores the next day.”
Beyond the neo-futuristic, Zaha Hadid-designed Dongdaemun Design Plaza, where Seoul Fashion Week takes place, the energy of its next generation was infectious. “The looks, the style and the attitude always feel fresh and exciting,” Al de Perez continues. “The whole international fashion circuit can seem fairly similar but look deeper and in Asia -- particularly Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai -- the kids have a different interpretation of trends and aren’t scared to experiment. Their ‘rule book’ is completely different. The message is: don’t look like you have spent too much time planning or trying too hard!”
“Some of my favourite shots this season are from this head shots series. From the punk attitude hair -- often coloured, asymmetrically cut, slashed and coiffed -- to the facemasks -- often accessorised with safety pins, badges, and buttons -- and face tattoos, the portraits are rich in detail,” de Perez explains. While these provide a snapshot of the shape-shifting and trend-chasing worlds of K-Fashion, they demonstrate just how a new generation are rejecting the old world order, from beauty standards to gender stereotypes, challenging what Seoul looks like in 2018.
MJ, 18, Jeju Island, model
“I describe this generation as the 'unbloomed flower'. We’re young and are pressured by society to work hard, to go to university, to get a good job. Ultimately, the city always inspires me and challenges me. We’re surrounded by opportunities, by knowledges, by culture. It encourages me to challenge everything. The future of Seoul fashion is like the deep sea, waiting to be discovered and I believe there’s more amazing things to explore."
Aaaira, 19, Fukuoko and Tokyo, student
“I live in Japan but was inspired by what I discovered in Seoul. From the models to the designers, I was touched by the K-Fashion that I encountered. The youth of Seoul are central to it and I think the future of Seoul fashion is that it will be both accepted and celebrated across the world.”
Chauen/Jane Song, Seoul, model
“The best thing about being young in Seoul is that we can challenge without fear and we’re constantly learning from one another. This generation is like a sponge. Social media networks connect the whole world and we’re continually introduced to new culture -- music, people, fashion, food -- at a click and a scroll. For me, it’s like discovering an unknown world and it’s driving us forward. It also encourages dialogue and collaboration and the future of Seoul fashion is going to be dominated by collaboration. We saw it this season with Charms and Kappa, D-Antidote and Fila, Kye and Louis Quatorze and I know we’ll see more.”
Tagman (Shawn Park), 37, Seoul, artist
“Seoul has a great range of people, culture and history. Because of the rapid changes and developments, there is a big generation gap between young and old. Sometimes this can be a bit of challenge but most of times I find it fun and inspiring, for finding harmony in an uncanny mixture of flavours like bibimbap. The future of Seoul fashion is young, daring and full of beautiful people.”
Reiji Fukisawa, 22, Tokyo, vintage store owner
“I think this generation of Korean youth are powerful and they’re only going to become more influential globally, the international fashion world is beginning to take notice.”