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K-pop culture and Hallyu tripping – Korea street style

Influenced by K-pop and TikTok, with a sprinkle of rock and hip hop, Korean urban style has become a global expression of freedom and individuality.

Korean cultural exports are fizzing around the world with trends from music, food, video games, movies, and fashion now sweeping through every genre across Asian and Western culture.

Hallyu – which literally translates as the “Korean Wave” – is dizzying, vibrant, rich and edgy with fanboys and girls hanging on every street corner slouching in style and popping bubblegum in oversized sweaters, ripped jeans and beautifying makeup.

The expression of Korean street fashion

With bright colours, high-impact logos, subversive messages and an expressive spirit, Seoul streetwear has found A-list western fans with Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber, Rita Ora, Rhianna and Wiz Khalifa adopting the spirit of K-pop superstars.

Labels such as Cres E Dim, Kye, Rocket X Lunch and Charm’s are infiltrating catwalks with minimalism, impeccable tailoring, patches of bright colour and practicality built-in. Brands including Supreme, Balenciaga and Balmaln have built upon their dominant following in Korea to achieve global renown.

How to wear Korean street style

Korean street fashion is intentionally diverse. Trends flash in for a season before the next emerges breathlessly from behind. Seoul fashion week has become a landmark display for the industry and is a heady mix of catwalk chic and effortless style.

Korea is in the midst of a hip-hop craze which shows no sign of abating and its influences are never far from view. But you’ll also find a smattering of 90s vintage vibe, anarchic rock, cosy comfort and unisex styling, all adorned by unique accessories – and intertwined into a living, breathing take on life through fashion.

Korean street styles you can adopt

Hongdae Street Style

Hongdae is the cultural hub of Seoul. A college town, awash with students, buskers, street food and bars, the hip neighbourhood is a hangout for K-pop stars and models.

Urban wear is the staple of Korean 20-somethings with Hongdae street style favouring baggy tops mixed with relaxed-fit pants, mixed colours and cross-sex styling.

A hint of shoulders and chest with plenty of knees and legs

The traditional values of conservatism still dictate Korean societal norms but have been infiltrated by the individualism of the country’s new internet-era, switched on generation.

Shoulders, chest and stomach still tend to be covered with an occasional flash of flesh. Think tank tops, and off-shoulder upper wear atop mini skirts and short shorts.

Oversized sweaters and jackets hide the female form with a tighter t-shirt or skinny jeans beneath to contradict the comfort coverings.

High-waisted tennis skirts or denim shorts are popular on the streets of Seoul with layers and mix-and-match designs worn to flaunt the wearer’s creativity.

Classic femininity on the street

In Korea, the school uniform is the staple uniform from the age of six through to adolescence. The academic apparel has become an indomitable influencer on Korean youth fashion. Cute is cool. And cute is cool with girls and boys.

The a-lined checked skirt is the staple of scholar-inspired style and it can be paired with pretty much anything to achieve a sweet and demure look with hints of edgy street vibe threatening to burst through.

The classic, flirty, feminine closet fits the a-line with collared blouses accentuated by ruffles and lacy detail. Top those classics with flowing fabrics and tailored jackets. Or for a more casual look, a button-down shirt dresses down with a beret atop to add a bohemian splash.

Korean feminine style takes in flawless makeup and impeccable hair styling. And of course, that’s not limited to the girls. When they’re chilling out of college, Koreans are partial to a pair of wide-leg jeans (always ripped) with grungy footwear and sneakers bottoming out for a hint of the sardonic coupled with sportswear trends which have long spread from skate and surf into hip-hop and rap cultures elsewhere.

Korean streetwear is an art form in itself

Korean street style is as fast as it is affordable. Influenced by Western brands and celebrities, yet with knockoff and thrift outlets abounding, Seoul urban chic is a heady mishmash of luxury with a dress down daring attitude to boot.

Colourful and balanced, while mixing up masculine and feminine, Koreans have a way of styling that makes a whole new modern look out of anything ordinary. Urban wear is an artform in Korea. The Hallyu explosion will ricochet through our wardrobes for some time to come.


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Image by MasashiWakui via Pixabay