Journey of Korean Fashion: Morals weaved in utilities

Nehal Tambe, Mumbai, Maharashtra

In today’s world, where South Korea stands as a leader in pop culture & entertainment and has a secondary influence on fashion, known on one side for clothing with simplicity and class; and on the other side with quirky, vibrant popular culture inspired fashion trends. If we take a closer look, we might be able to trace the fading threads weaved to the journey and transition of the clothing styles of ancient Korea to the fashion trends of modern Korea.

In ancient times, clothing was more of a just a utility rather than fashion. Clothes were created to serve their purpose only. Similarly, Korean peninsula which was rich with two plants, Ramie and Hemp was used to make clothes. Both fabrics have their own characteristic uniqueness where they compliment each other. Ramie, a fabric that looks lustrous when washed and light enough for air to circulate and Hemp that is durable and thick. South Korea, which has both heavy summers and harsh winters, these fabrics were perfect to serve their basic purpose of protection and cover. Koreans used to stuff layers of fabrics with cotton and stitch them to create a padding like effect for the winters. The clothing was seen more for it’s use rather than fashion.

Video Credits: UNESCO

However, as times progressed with the emergence of monarchy and kingdom rule, clothes started also symbolizing the hierarchy of the status stratification created. The upper class would be seen wearing clothes that not only brings utility but can be seen as a visual representation of their position in society. Better quality, lustrous, embroidered clothes with hints of vibrant colours were worn by them while the lower placed people on this stratification seemed to be wearing less attractive, earthy coloured clothing. Clothing during these ancient times started playing a role in defining the characteristics of history of each country we see today during these times.

Koreans are known to be peace loving people even today just as they did back in times of their rough patch of history with foreign colonisation and invasion and the division of the Korean peninsula. Their love for simple peaceful lifestyle represented in their clothing with white being a predominant colour. Hence, ‘white’ was used to define them by their neighbouring countries who witnessed the peaceful attitude Koreans always have been believing in throughout their history by the simplicity in their lifestyles and politeness and were called as the ‘the white clad people’, also in the deeper context meaning “peace loving people.” Korean clothing, which even at the highest position holds simplicity in the attire, with the traditional attire ‘Hanbok’ consisting of nothing fancy but 2-3 garments. As we say that ‘clothing speaks a lot about a person’, here we can see how the morals of the Korean people were reflected through their clothing who believe in peace and unity.

After the rough patch of history and influence from the West started spreading on the fashion of Korea, it has continued to influence the fashion sense and style of people today. Traditional clothing started getting replaced by western outfits and today Korea, itself has become a dominant fashion hub. However, you can still see the age old morals, Koreans held in the modern fashion too. With simple and delicate patterns and soft color schemes in the modern everyday fashion , Koreans still look the ‘white clad people’. With Korean popular culture gaining a worldwide attention, people are interested not only in modern Korean fashion but also the origins of traditional Korean attires.

Video Credits: Arirang News

Every Hallyu fan at least once in the lifetime wants to try wearing a Hanbok and the fact that even Koreans of the 21st century haven’t let go their traditions in fashion is worth appreciating. You can still see Korean people adorning their traditional attires of special occasions and events. Modernisation of the Hanbok has also become a new fashion trend that the world in embracing. Korean clothing has threaded a beautiful history indeed.

Tell us in the comments, whats your favourite Korean fashion trend or attire?

12 Comments Add yours

  1. I really want to wear hanbok once. It looks so pretty🥺❤️ well written 👏

  2. It’s really a dream for hallyu fans to wear the hanbok atleast once😍 it’s such a beauty💖

  3. Anushka Gupta says:

    I came to know many new things 😃❤️

  4. kylemyoxin78 says:

    This article was too good!!! Totally Insightful.

  5. I love the article. I got to learn so many new things today. Also I feel like the Koreans have mastered some secret skills in styling. They can easily combine two different prints or make a very basic outfit look amazing!

  6. anishanath says:

    The Korean fashion is really amazing,I want to try it so bad, I love the styling sense they have . I love to read the fashion articles and this article is awesome.

  7. This article was so informative and insightful. Had knowledgeable time while reading it. Now i wanted to try Hanbok once.

  8. Smriti. L says:

    The article took be back to ancient korea to fall in love the korean clothing style 💕

  9. rupalikujur says:

    Hanbok truly gives you the princess like experience✨
    It was great knowing the history about how the Korean Fashion existed back in those days 👌🏻:)

  10. khiroda06 says:

    This article was very informative and awesome 🙌🏽✨ and Yes every Hallyu fan has wish to wear Hanbok once in a life 😩✨ Idk when I can wear it ㅠㅠ

  11. shwets007 says:

    The history and meaning behind their clothes is so beautifully told in the article!

  12. suhasini17 says:

    Korean fashion has its own beauty!! They make me wanna explore and try all kind of amazing outfits!! But i guess i wanna try Hanbok… seeing historical dramas make me curious about how do they dress up so normal yet look so beautiful!

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