>> A few months ago I got a strange interview request asking me - a non Korean, never-been-to-Korea, in no way an expert on anything Korean person - about whether I thought Korean fashion was making serious international waves following Gangnam Style mania or as part of a broader "Korean Wave" cultural movement. The simplistic answer for me is no, not yet but I sure as hell wish it would happen judging by the number of Korean gems that seem to come through my inbox. Now I fear though any plan I make to get onboard the Seoul Train will be tainted with knowing judgement. Oh, NOW you think it's "cool" to go to Seoul. It's that PSY isn't it? It's all this K-pop guff, right? It's HALLYU madness!
In truth, the trip has been thwarted on so many occasions, dating back to just over three years ago when I was invited out to Seoul Fashion Week but couldn't make the timing work with my then full-time job. Nobody will believe me though so I'll just go along with the make believe line. "Yeah, it's the horse-cantering dance moves. And all those beguiling lyrics about coffee drinking. That's why I want to go to the land of kimchee."
In all seriousness though, what I have noticed is a growing willingness of Korean designers to get in touch with me. Or the simple fact that the Korean fashion industry itself has burgeoned, with the majority of labels having only had lifespans of less than five years or so. Either way, I'm getting Seoul vibes in my emails and I'm frankly loving it. The latest one to come in is Lucky Chouette, a diffusion line of the infinitely more ladylike and grown-up label Jardin de Chouette. They must have known what my speed was because Lucky Chouette's collection of endearing logo-ed hoodies, varsity jackets, caps and emoticon graphics reminds me of the type of clothes I wore as a five to seven year old and wish I had in adult size. In fact, looking at this overload of anime bright colours, sailor collars, dungarees and chunky sneakers... why, this is in fact what my childhood heroine Arale Norimaki would wear, were she to suddenly reappear today in all her purple haired glory and impossibly happy disposition. For those not familiar with the early 80s Japanese manga Dr. Slump, Arale was basically everything I wanted to be. A tomboy robot with severe shortsightedness (our only common trait), she bounced around in winged caps, chunky sneaks and baseball tees causing mischief and occasionally freaking people out with a stick of candy floss coloured poop poop (don't ask - just find out for yourself if you can).
"Street elements and graphics, playful and humorous arty work through a variety of cultural and Style propose a new character brand" is the translated sentence that I get from Lucky Chouette's About page and that's basically all you need to know. Play. Street. Graphics. Those elements are combined with a girly sensibility that so often eludes traditional streetwear brands for women. Chuck a bit of trend-driven sass (not a bad thing when used correctly) into the silhouettes and choice of fabrics and you get clothes that aren't just for weirdos like me that immediately think of eighties manga characters.
As with all Korean labels though, the final thudding question is always "Where can I get my hands on this stuff?" I have no finite answer but I'm guessing Lucky Chouette are keen to get their wares out into the wide open world, beyond Seoul. I'll try and get the ball rolling here then and badger them about international shipping seeing as they do have a domestic-shipping e-store. Come on now, Seoul. You can export a popstar or two but not a sweatshirt in a post pack envelope? I suspect this will change in the coming months. Oh well, maybe that interviewer was on the money after all.