Korea's S(E)OUL is coming for you
Expecting the unexpected: When it comes to new fashion and style, the first word dropped by trend experts and design lovers is Korea. It seems like no other country is getting as much attention today regarding new inspiring brands and labels. That’s why we got curious about what is really going on and searched for a partner in crime to talk about this inspiring new trend.
Sophie Pollak was our first pick. The former fashion student turned designer (she launched her own menswear brand, sophisticated, in 2005) was one of the first to realize that this country is turning into a new Mecca for design. Obviously, she quickly opened a store featuring both Scandinavian and Korean brands for men and women - WE BANDITS. After marvellous success, a second location followed last year, also based in Vienna, which now hosts women’s styles with a special focus on Korean design. This is what we wanted to talk to her about: The magic of the Korean fashion market and how it is taking over Europe and leaping directly into our hearts.
When did the idea to deal with Korean fashion labels first come to mind? Sophie Pollak:
I fell in love with Seoul the first time I went there 6 years ago and was puzzled by the great creative energy and well set up fashion industry they had to offer. I knew instantly that this is the place and the people I wanted to work with. I am going there on a regular basis ever since, blown away every time over and over again.
How would you describe your personal style?
S.P.: My style is closely connected to my mood and a way of expressing or protecting myself, it changes on a daily basis but I do love classics with a twist. Clothes are our canvas and second skin at the same time, so no need to be shy about going crazy at times.
Is this style a decisive factor in why you started working with Korean brands?
S.P.: It was not so much my personal style that sealed the decision, it was more the humour and freedom that I felt the designers in Seoul have, allowing them to express their vision in fashion design. They do catwalk styles for daily use and for a reasonable price, which allows everyone to enjoy extraordinary and extravagant pieces - that democratic, fun approach is what caught me the most. No division between catwalk and RTW- it seems to be all one.
When did you start working with Korean brands?
S.P.: 2012, when I started Pop Up Stores and also my first store in Vienna, which back then was a Mens- and Womenswear Store, mixing Korean and Scandinavian Designs.
Do they have a special USP against other brands?
S.P.: We definitely do offer more colour and prints than any other store in Vienna, therefore we limit each design to 5 pieces, max - to make sure that they are unique wherever you go. We aim to make wearing the WB-selection a walk of compliments for our clients. That means, of course, a high level of consulting and service for our clients. Pieces should become favourites for everyone wearing them.
When you think about Korean brands, what makes the difference between them and, for example, European ones?
S.P.: To me it combines the Extravaganza of European catwalk with the humorous Korean approach toward endless possibilities on the fashion playground, all for a very affordable price. The quality is great, usually better than from European Brands in the same price range- but unique and without competition in Europe. I like the out of the box-thinking of Korean Designers.
What is your favourite brand?
S.P.: Naming only one in a sea of creative explosion is hard but at the moment I can say it is PUSH BUTTON, although of course there are zillion great ones, and I never stop being curious about what’s going on and who’s next.
What is your personal favourite piece?
S.P.: Right now I love wearing a long cashmere and wool knitdress by ELIM with a turtle neck and displaced pockets, it looks fantastic but feels like staying in bed- best combo for the cold days!
We carry it in 5 colours.
Which pieces do you sell in your shop?
S.P.: We sell Womenswear, Shoes, Bags, and an eclectic selection of accessories. I try to keep the balance between extraordinary and wearable even, so be prepared to find the stainless steel neckless beside the orange bell sleeved angora pullover and next to a bag full of colourful rivets. Nothing is impossible to find here.
Putting together one outfit with every piece from a Korean brand – what would
be your choice?
S.P.: It would be the velvet 2-colored (red and navy) Blazer with Kimono Sleeves by Push Button with an oversized Mens-style Shirt by Elim and some navy 7/8 suit Pants by Khaki - team it up with a black Kroko-Style clutch by Bucks&Leather and you’re set
Describe the style of Korean brands in 3 words:
S.P.: Always on top!
Describe the production methods Korean brands usually use in 3 words:
S.P.: Direct, fast and local
Describe Korean brands’ standing in the fashion world:
S.P.: When I started it was the fashion worlds’ best kept secret but I think it is on the rise and some European Magazine Stars are already being seen at Seoul Fashion Week… more to come!