In 2020, to say that Korean culture is having a “moment” on the global stage is a total understatement; downplaying the longterm significance of the nation’s exports in food, music, beauty, and of course, fashion. There’s even a word for it: hanryu or hallyu, which translates to “Korean wave” — in other words, the outward flow of culture that began in the previous millennium, but came to a head in the past decade, with recent surges that made K-pop a household name and that filled our medicine cabinets with K-beauty staples like jelly masks, cushion compacts, and milky toners.
However, we’re focusing on the nation’s contribution to fashion — in particular, a growing e-commerce site that has introduced a number of indie imprints to the US market since its stateside launch in 2016, and continues to serve up original, outfit-making designs from still-unknown labels. W Concept — sometimes colloquially referred to as the “Farfetch of Asia” — is a multi-brand platform that started out as a showcase for independent Korean designers and grew to include over 1,000 brands from Korea, China, and the US. It’s also one of our best-kept secrets for that cutting-edge, no-one-else-has-it style that we’re constantly chasing here on the Shopping team.
After being seemingly surrounded by lust-worthy Korean fashion in 2019 — including Bloomingdale’s “Window Into Seoul” pop-up hosted by former R29er Alyssa Coscarelli and the likes of Sissy Saint Marie and Reese Blutstein sporting the nation’s fashion exports in double-tap worthy Instagram posts — we approached the fashion-forward one-stop-shop for some insight on the best Korean designers to look out for. W Concept’s CEO Cecile Kim — newly installed this past July after stints at MCM and Burberry — filled us in on her favorite pieces from the site and the labels that are poised for world domination in the upcoming year. “With the amount of potential in Korean designer brands, that have been in the market for a long time, I’m very happy to see their aesthetic sense and hard work shining through,” said Kim.
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Yuul Yie Cassie Croc-Effect Low Heels, $, available at W Concept
Reike Nen Ring Middle Boots, $, available at W Concept
The expertly-curated feed of stylist and über-muse Sissy Saint Marie has hipped us to Korean brands like the high-end EENK and Loeil, a mix of well-priced wardrobe staples and the occasional eyebrow-raising “Do I need this?” item, like this ankle-length knife-pleated skirt.
Loeil Dramatic Wrinkle Long Skirt, $, available at W Concept
One of Cecile’s winter faves? “We launched an exclusive wool dress with Mohan and I loved the minimal and classic mood.”
Mohan NTW Wool Cocoon Sleeve Dress, $, available at W Concept
“I also love Fayewoo’s latest houndstooth tweed jacket,” Cecile told us. “The quality is remarkable.”
W concept Boutique Jacket, $, available at W Concept
Low Classic — another brand that’s buzzy among indie design aficionados — also got its start on the platform. Now you can find their structured (but thoroughly unboring) staples on the likes of Need Supply and SSENSE too.
Low Classic Print Slit-Hem Pants, $, available at W Concept
The site offers a handful of in-house brands, like Frontrow, a collection of structured separates with enough polish for the office, along with the panache necessary for off-duty dressing. “Frontrow’s signature suits are some of my favorites — it’s consistently one of our top-selling brands,” says Cecile.
Frontrow Belted Shawl Collar Blazer, $, available at W Concept
Frontrow Wide-leg Trousers, $, available at W Concept
Concept also carries select brands from around the globe, like beloved Swedish indie imprint Little Liffner, known for its structured, influencer-friendly bags.
Little Liffner Little Lady Bag, $, available at W Concept
According to Cecile, outerwear is one of W Concept’s top-selling categories — and we can see why. The site is overflowing with of-the-moment insulators; everything from preppy-with-a-twist-down coats to those massive-yet structured shirt-jackets that we can’t get enough of this season.
Jude McCall Dana Quilted Jacket, $, available at W Concept
Oui Mais Non Plaid Shirt Coat, $, available at W Concept
Nilby P Reversible Angora Vest, $, available at W Concept
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