Korean Fashion: Its Evolution Throughout History

korean fashionThe world of fashion is constantly evolving, and that includes Korean clothing making it the forefront of quality and style. Korean clothing, however, hasn’t always thrived in synergy with London, New York, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo’s fashion weeks.

2333 BC

Rewind to Joseon Dynasty around 2333 BC when Hanbok, the first formal, traditional Korean dress, ruled the streets. Rulers and aristocrats adorned themselves in other styles of traditional clothing with foreign influences, while the common class continued to wear the distinctly traditional Hanbok. During this time, streets were flooded with Hanbok’s signature vibrant fabric in simple lines and no pockets.


Korean fashion’s rise to stardom began in 1954 at the Chonsun Hotel, where Korea had its first international fashion show. It featured Madame Nora Noh who was the first recognized Korean designer in the international fashion industry. Since then, fashion shows were held regularly until the government establishment put a stop to it in 1961. All fashion shows were suspended after the May 16 military coup d’ état and establishment of Pak Chung Hee’s military government. They declared fashion as an “arche typical luxury.”


The 1980’s made its debut, along with the re-emergence of Korean fashion and the end of military dictatorship. Fashion developed at a rapid pace, establishing “Seoul Fashion Week” and an esteemed international reputation. Today, fashionistas visit Seoul to bask in the latest trends during Seoul Fashion Week, which occurs twice a year, usually in March and October.


Korean styles today display a distinct Asian style, tinged with Western influences, and are available worldwide. The Korean fashion industry, led by veteran designer Lie Sang-bong, attempts to connect different generations in the industry. He believes that each designer has a role to play in the development of fashion as senior mentors to young designers.

Once an adversary of style, the Korean government today now seems to be backing moves towards the further maintenance and development of the Korean fashion industry.With the surge of online shopping in Korea, not only in fashion, but virtual groceries as well, more resort to the internet for their fashion fix.This signals that Korean fashion is here to stay.