Home of Seoul Fashion Week, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is a truly unique spectacle.
With curving walls and slanted floors, the structure resembles an alien spaceship. Lined with stands selling pseudo Supreme sweatshirts and Gucci belts, it serves as the quintessential meeting place for Korea’s fashion scene. Street fashion has exploded as the face of Korean style; think intentionally visible brand names, baggy cargo pants, and chunky sneakers. Street fashion kids coupled with the emergence of the DDP has flipped the field of Seoul fashion on its head.
A mere ten years ago, this display of excess consumption and a desire for individuality was not a cultural norm in Korean fashion. Paepi, a korean portmanteau for the korean pronunciation of the english words “fashion people”, represents these distinct contemporary attitudes and lifestyles of korean youth. The paepi is more than a subculture of korean fashion; it is a social practice that is mediated through style.
The intricate detail, originality, and playfulness of Seoul’s street fashion makes it noteworthy. It’s not uncommon to see young couples coordinate their outfits; from harmonizing color schemes to wearing the exact same ensemble, even down to the accessories.
Fashion changed for young Koreans, growing up in a world where they can order the exact outfit their favorite K-pop idol wore on tour and receive it in the mail the next day. They have an endless array of choice in the palm of their hands and along the streets of trendy neighborhoods.
Paepi illustrates a new level of consumerism instilled in a younger generation of Koreans born into a culture of thriving capitalism, wealth and changing social attitudes.