It's set in stone. Seoul in South Korea is my new frontier and I'll get there to soon enough. For now though something rather unexpected hailing from Seoul has landed on my doorstep and pretty much every bit of it is photoworthy. I am one of those annoying people that loves snapping away at every bit of possibly interesting minutiae but in this instance, the Korean brand Low Classic has given me enough ammunition to defend myself when it comes to photo overload. Be prepared to immerse yourself into all things Low. Low Classic was created in 2009 by Lee Myeong Sin, Hwang Hyun Ji and Park Jin Sun, all coming from the powerful trio of backgrounds as fashion buyers, editors and designers. It is no wonder therefore that everything about Low Classic from its website design to its lookbooks to its accessories to its presentation and branding is immaculately conceived.
We haven't even got to the clothes yet which are at first glance minimal but upon closer inspection reveal details that when paired up with the pricing (more about that later) are quite simply astounding. The A/W 12-3 collection that I'm wearing below along with the lookbook images pick up on sports and cars - typically boyish pursuits to use as themes for their prints and their motifs. You can read the various nods to Acne, Celine and Phillip Lim which makes for an easy aesthetic to fall for even if you aren't a hardcore minimalist. A zip here, a cut-out there, smatterings of interesting texture contrasts and in this collection in particular, cars on the highway come zooming in at places to prevent accusations of being plain or without interest.
The biggest surprise in this Low scenario? Low is in fact a high street brand, selling prices that are slightly less than Topshop-prices. Its branding and presentation may suggest something more lofty but run the prices from the online store through a currency converted and you'll be surprised (you can only see the prices if you labororiously register as a member - I had to come up with a fake Korean address and telephone number to do this so just take my word for it). COS of course is the closest store I have to compare Low to in terms of approach and aesthetic and it's possible the trio were inspired by the H&M-owned minimal and democratic chain. Still items such as the Low Classic Pocket Bag where potentially you could have your sunnies, your wallet and your credit card on the exterior of your bag, show an attention to design that gives you a lot of bang for your buck at the princely sum of £138. A navy leather zip-up skirt with a front chiffon panel which looks like you'd wear over and over again at £50 seems ludicrously low. Even the pieces that I wore here felt weighty and sturdy in their construction, especially the car highway box-pleat tunic that hangs just right. I knew Korea could turn out clothes that somehow balance quantity with quality, having seen some of the stuff they import to Hong Kong but Low seems to have cracked a magic formula where price, design and quality can come together in harmonious synergy.
The disappointing conclusion to all of this is that Low Classic's online site is currently only available for shipping within Korea buuuuuuut, I'm told that they will be attempting to launch an international e-commerce site soon next year. I'd add another year on top of that just to manage optimistic expectations. Still, Low is surely a benchmark glimpse at what is possible when a good idea is well executed within the ever-competitive category of lower-priced fashion.
The Low Classic Pocket Bag - A Margiela-esque signature accessory which has already had friends asking if I can pick a few of them up for them in Korea. Yes, you wouldn't ACTUALLY put your phone, your credit cards and your valuables on the outside of your bag in a bustling city but a pen, a notepad and business card or two creates quite a visual impact. Plus, it's also the perfect size for toting around my MacBook Air.
Locle Bands - Remember those snappy bracelets that you smack to curve in an instant around your wrist? Low Classic have produced these word bracelets for its second range Locle.
See what I mean with the printed materials of Low? These fruit-fronted notepads, writing sets and postcards don't really serve any real purpose other than to statisfy the whims of Low's designers, who obviously have a love for nice typography, graphics design and paper-based goods.
Their current spring and summer lookbooks for both Low Classic and Locle will you a further taste of what Low are all about and this is all the stuff that's currently on sale (but not to us outside-of-Korea folks) on their e-commerce site.