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Korean vs American Fashion

By Isabella Telgenhof

Fashion varies from person to person, city to city, and nation to nation. Different cultural expectations, the general preference of a style that is followed, or even the demographics of the area can have an impact on fashion as a whole. By comparing the United States and South Korea, we may observe these distinctions across nations as well as between cities like New York City and Los Angeles.

To begin, Korean fashion tends to be one step ahead of the latest fashion trends, seemingly always searching for the next best thing. Much of the fashion seen in Korean street style is inspired by three main categories of dress. Hongdae is the most popular and commonly seen when walking the streets of Seoul. Characterized by baggy clothes and androgenous fashion, people who dress this way have their looks photographed everywhere they turn. The second most popular is Ewha street fashion. This is the more traditionally ‘girly’ ensembles with pleated skirts and collared shirts, which can mostly be seen by female university students. Lastly, and a personal favorite category of dress in Korea is the retro and vintage looks that seem to be popping up everywhere. From oversized varsity jackets to baggy trousers and graphic tee shirts, these looks are easy to style and a timeless classic.

Korean street style is very high fashion and mature, much more out of the box than a lot of the styles that we see here in America. Each outfit is carefully crafted around the person wearing it. Rather than only emphasizing the clothes that they are wearing, many people in Korea highlight their body as a key aspect of their outfit. The single most important aspect of Korean fashion is the intentionality behind these outfits; each piece is chosen for a reason and placed on the body as a work of art rather than just clothes to cover the body.

In contrast to Korean fashion, American fashion varies from which region of the country you may be residing in. A prime example of these distinct differences are west coast fashion versus east coast fashion. People that live in Los Angelos dress much differently than those that live in New York. For instance, people that live in LA tend to dress with whatever is on trend right at the moment, very focused on fads and fast fashion. What is in style in LA changes from week to week, and is very hard to keep up with. This may be because of the professions that are based in each city. Los Angeles tends to attract influencers, celebrities, or hipsters, who are always looking ahead for the newest look that can possibly secure them a brand deal.

To continue with this analogy, New York fashion is much more avant-garde and timeless. Ensembles seen in New York consist of classic pieces that never go out of style. From leather jackets to layered outfits for every season, New York fashion has an eloquence to it that is hard to find anywhere else. Instead of dressing in fads or looking for the newest fast fashion trends that is usually seen in Los Angeles, New York fashion is a classic form of artistic expression.

Every country has a different style, and it's fascinating to discover how our own country's fashion differs from that of other nations. A city or country is not what defines a person's fashion though. Keep in mind that even though you live in a certain area that does not mean you have to dress in the same fashions. Even though this is true, fashion usually is influenced by those around you leading to the differences we see from place to place overall.

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