Whither High Fashion?
The focus on high fashion in regards to understanding Korean fashion must end. Even as the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has been throwing billions of won at Korean official fashion bodies for years, what is the return on investment? Is there more (actually, any, really?) overseas press coverage of Korean fashion shows, events, or designers? Has Seoul Fashion Week entered the top 7 fashion week capitals of the world (which was the stated goal of SFW back in 2010 or so)? Most certainly, unequivocally, NO. But much to Korean high fashion's chagrin, overseas fashion interest has come to focus on Korean street fashion. Case in point: do a Google search for "Korean Street Fashion" and click on the link to the first story from a major media organization that you see, which is the Vogue story "The Hype Is Real: Street Style at the Supreme x Undercover Drop." Out of 64 slides, there's not a single, solitary image from any runway show. What, praytell, does that tell you? No one outside of Korea cares about Seoul Fashion Week, truth be told. The only thing worth seeing is the action on the streets of Seoul are what the kids are wearing, the sight of street fashion as artifacts of real culture-in-motion, of people who are themselves walking, talking, sartorial cultural texts.
The DDP Street Runway
As many of those regularly attending Seoul Fashion Week since its move to its permanent venue at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in October 2014 already know, the area outside the lower entrance (Gate A3) to the main building has become a veritable "street fashion runway" full of mostly amateur and some professional street fashion photographers. Although it has actually become a difficult place to get any meaningful photographic work done because of all the photographers stepping over and interfering with one another, it is still a place of great community and sociological importance in that it is a watering hole for the culture's most fashionable people as well as those concerned with personal fashion. Although most of the amateur photographers shooting in this area do so between the hours of 2-6pm, when there is available light, we shoot generally after it gets dark, so as to allow the best combination of background and subject, strobe and ambient light, with the goal of differentiating our shots from those produced by the legion of amateur (and often, amateurish) photographers clogging up the work(s).You can see us there, mostly after dark, moving in teams, shooting and conducting interviews.
Hongdae, Jongno, Itaewon
Main Street gear
Canon 6D, 20mm fixed, 24-105L, any strobe, Dr. Ray radio remote triggers, white umbrella
Main Street settings
Av at ISO 8000+ @ f22, Auto focus points, AF Servo
“...the studying of fashion as a social phenomenon that influences the clothes we decide to buy, wear, and even be proud of (at least for some time) is possibly one of the easiest examples of what sociology is all about; with, in the case of fashion, numerous references to culture, norms, representations, consumption, social roles and models.”
– Yves Laberge