12 Korean Designers You’ll Need to Know

by Aria Darcella

A joint initiative by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea (MCST) and the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), The Selects is bringing the best rising fashion talent from the East Asian country to New York. This year, The Selects is showcasing the work of 12 designers across 10 brands at its space at 62 Greene Street in Soho. With special events, pop-up stores, artist collaborations, exhibitions, and more, fashion fans can immerse themselves in the most exciting new names coming out of Korea. Additionally, all the brands will be presenting their latest collections at NYFW on Sunday. Get to know these rising names now, and be sure to check fashionweekdaily.com for exclusive Q&As with the designers.

1. KATHLEEN KYE, KYE @kye_official

“I’ve loved fashion and clothes for as long as I can remember,” says Kathleen Kye of her early passions. “There was nothing I was interested in more than fashion, so it was inevitable for me to pursue it as a career.” Her pursuit has been fruitful—Kye’s eponymous label has garnered her an established cult following and a growing international business, thanks to her vibrant, optimistic aesthetic.

KYE Spring ‘20

2. TAE YONG KO, BEYOND CLOSET, @beyondcloset

Tae Yong Ko

A preppy, Americana aesthetic is a key inspiration for Tae Yong Ko’s Beyond Closet. The designer—who first decided to pursue a career in design after attending a Fashion Week—believes that what people have in their closet is a reflection of their personality and lifestyle. Naturally, this ethos informs his designs.

Beyond Closet, Spring ’19

3. BYUNGMUN SEO & JINA UM, BMUET(TE) @bmuette

Byungmun Seo and Jina Um

Byungmun Seo and Jina Um met while working for another brand in Korea. Realizing that they shared a similar aesthetic and worked well as a team, they decided to strike out on their own. In 2015, BMUET(TE) was launched. Their mission? To challenge preconceived notions of fashion through their own creative direction, which they describe as “weird but beautiful.”

BMUET(TE) Spring ’19

4. NOAH NAM, NOHANT, @official_nohant

Noah Nam

Rather than creating showstopping but less practical red-carpet pieces, Noah Nam is bringing modernity and elegance to everyday wares. His unisex line is giving his customers a new way to look at essentials. “The ease and comfort of my designs make them natural for anyone,” the designer says. “They’re the kinds of clothes that can be worn by everyone,
no matter what gender or age.”

Nohant, Spring ’19

5. HWAN HEO, HEOHWAN SIMULATION @heohwansimulation

Hwan Heo

Hwan Heo initially studied history in university. Unsurprisingly, his vast source of historical references have had a direct impact on his creativity. For his London-founded label, Heohwan Simulation, Heo blends aesthetics and craftsmanship from the past with his visions for the future of fashion. This season, the designer is looking at luxury and casualwear from the ’80s and ’90s through the lens of sustainability.

Heohwan Simulation Spring ’20

6. SEUNGHEE LEE, LEYII, @leyii_official

Seunghee Lee might have been destined to be a designer. After all, her parents worked in the fashion industry. “I was able to play with sewing machines and clothes from early childhood,” she says. Lee went on to study at Central Saint Martins, and has been showing at Seoul Fashion Week since 2010. Fashion, it seems, is where she’s at her best. “Working as a designer gives me joy because I find it the most effective way to style a woman beautifully, even though the process is tough.”

Leyii, Spring ’19

7. CHUNG CHUNG LEE, LIE, @liecollection_

Chung Chung Lee

Chung Chung Lee of LIE is no stranger to the New York fashion scene. The Central Saint Martins grad’s pieces are available in NYC at the LIE SANGBONG concept store, which also sells his father’s fashion brand. “We wanted to create a space that best embodies the brand, a union between fashion innovation and artistic expression,” he says. “The retail store acts as platform to showcase what LIE is about. There is also an art gallery with curated exhibitions that promotes contemporary fine artists.”

LIE Spring ‘20

8. DONG HO HA, SWBD, @sbbydongho

Dong Ho Ha

Dong Ho Ha didn’t always aspire to be a fashion designer. “When I was young I wanted to be a car engineer,” he says. But he ended up majoring in fashion. Working as an assistant designer during Seoul Fashion Week cinched the deal. “That experience made me realize that I wanted to start my own brand.” Now with his own label, SWBD (short for Sewing Boundaries), Ha is using fashion to bridge the gap between genders and generations.

SWBD Spring ‘19

9. HYE YOUNG SHIN, WNDERKAMMER, @wnderkammer_official

Hye Young Shin

Wnderkammer’s unusual name has an even more unusual backstory. “Before cameras existed, German aristocracy kept their special items in a secret room called a Wnderkammer,” says designer Hye Young Shin. “I want my brand to become this kind of room for modern women.” And so it has—her chic, wearable pieces often have unexpected details. And as an advocate for the environment, she does her best to use eco-friendly fabrics.

Wnderkammer Spring ‘20

10. JI HYUN HWANG & SUNG JUN CHO, HIDDEN FOREST MARKET, @hiddenforestmarket

Ji Hyun Hwang & Sung Jun Cho

Husband and wife duo Ji Hyun Hwang and Sung Jun Cho launched their line, Hidden Forest Market, in 2012. For this duo, being partners in life and work could not be easier. “We enjoy working together as a team, and I get most inspired from my wife,” Hwang says. “Family is the most important thing to me. I’ve never believed that work and personal lives need to be separate.” Their new collection translates the sweetness of summer nights into fashion.

Hidden Forest Market Spring ‘20

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