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Founded by the young South Korean designer of the same name Hyein Seo was launched in 2014 after Seo graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp (for the uninitiated, that’s the same school attended by designers such as Denma Gvasalia and Martin Margiela). While still in school, her bachelor collection was picked to be presented at the VFiles Made Fashion show during New York Fashion Week, and it wasn’t long after that the British Fashion Council’s International Fashion Showcase for Emerging Talent awarded her with a Best Designer moniker.
“The brand perfectly treads the line between masculine and feminine silhouettes with its oversized yet sexy styles, keeping the collection relaxed and comfortable while also bringing hella steeze — something a lot of womenswear brands fail to do. In my opinion, it’s the perfect women’s collection.”
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Take a look at a few more of our favorite styles from the latest collection below, including everything from the oversized to the form-fitting. The entire collection is currently available for pre-order, so head on over to Hyein Seo’s website via the link below if you’re ready to shop.
Following that, a standout moment for the label came from an appearance by Rihanna in its jaw-dropping “FEAR” faux fur stole that same year. While heading into the COMME des GARCONS show at Paris Fashion Week, the singer was papped in the piece and provided some huge exposure to the brand.
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Seo’s graduate collection that came after — “BAD EDUCATION” — was an instant success, featuring anti-education slogans such as “School Kills” and “Spoiled” printed on its pieces. Ever since, Seo has been honing her craft to establish the statement silhouettes the label is known for today.
“Hyein Seo has been on my radar for a hot minute now,” says Highsnobiety curator Rhianna Matthews. “And I think it’s safe to say its latest SS19 collection is the best, most innovative and consistently fire collection yet.
The brand’s SS19 collection features comfy pieces such as oversized hoodies, baggy pants, and long jackets, as well as more feminine designs such as crop tops, mini skirts, and dresses. The entire collection comprises just two, monochromatic colors — white and black — with only a few more vibrant pops on printed pieces. On top of its apparel, stand out accessories include leg bags and harnesses — a nod to Street Fighter character Chun-Li.
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There are many women’s streetwear brands out there, but not many can do quite what Hyein Seo is doing. When you’re receiving props from the likes of Rihanna and Aleali May, you’re probably doing something right.
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Since moving her base back from Antwerp this year, Seo has become the reluctant talk of the town. Though known for her “tough girl” image—the vinyl biker pants and cut-out spandex tops, the garter belt bag designed to hold a pack of Marlboro Reds—Seo herself is quite shy, hence her position on the roof, removed from those crowds of strangers. Jino Lee, the label’s co-director and fellow Royal Academy of Fine Arts grad, explained that he “deals with the technical side of things, so she can focus more on the creative,” and by nature of having a namesake brand, Seo is made to be the face of it. “People think I’m the really strong, partying type, but I actually spend a lot of time at home reading books, watching movies,” she said, laughing.
In throwing Seoul’s hottest event, Seo and Lee have staked their claim as the bright future of Korean fashion, around which the capital’s young creatives are eagerly flocking. There is a hunger here—untapped potential—and Hyein Seo is tapping directly into its veins. Which leads us back to tonight’s Spring 2019 presentation. Called White Noise, the collection was inspired, Seo explained, “by Seoul youth now.” “We want to show what’s on now in this sleepless city,” she said. “We do have talents in Seoul but no place to get them together. Those young DJs, artists, designers, photographers became our inspiration.” It’s precisely why Seo and Lee called upon their very cool friends to each choose a Spring look and wear it to the party: Their Hyein Seo fantasy had found real-world roots.
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Yet it is this element of wish fulfillment that make a Hyein Seo piece so compelling. Past seasons have been inspired by the qipao-clad sirens in Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 and Street Fighter ’s Chun-Li (Fall 2017’s “Final Boss”) and Park Chan-Wook’s vengeful ex-convict (Fall 2016’s “Lady Vengeance”); stepping into one of her silk cheongsams or a hiked-up sukeban skirt is like slipping into character. “I’m always captivated by the bad girl in movies,” Seo added. “Maybe because I’m not a bad girl.” Small wonder that her fans include Rihanna, Bella Hadid, Simi and Haze. It is more startling to see the impact Seo has made in conservative Korea, where trends are still followed to the letter. Girls are growing empowered to dress for themselves, whether that be a curve-obscuring jumpsuit or a spandex crop top.
By 9:00 p.m. on Friday night, an unmarked alley in Euljiro, Seoul was filled with kids wearing silk bucket hats and patch-work bomber jackets, clingy knit slips and perfectly lax cargo pants. The stylish swarm had descended upon a two-story art gallery to celebrate Hyein Seo, the four-year-old cult Korean label that staged its first hometown presentation as a raucous house party. DJ Leevisa cued her next track in the front room, while champagne and vodka poured forth freely from the concrete slab bar on the ground floor. In a nearby corner, black cotton mock turtlenecks with the words “Hyein Seo” on the chest and “Prototype” on the collar sold like hotcakes.
Equally transgressive is the fact that Hyein Seo is a unisex label, with pieces meant to be worn both by Lee and Seo. Ergo the oversize coats; the Belge menswear and military references beloved by artists like Kendrick Lamar and Khalid, who stopped by the Hyein Seo archive sale before performing in Hannam-dong last week; and the equal swath of men in Euljiro, wearing the same beautifully embroidered suit coats as their female peers. Looking around the room, it was thrilling to see this point of view come across.
Upstairs, the designer herself stood discreetly on the roof deck, dressed in head-to-toe black and surrounded by friends who had arrived for the occasion: photographers like Cho Giseok and Dasom Han, who captured the night exclusively for Vogue ; models like Soyoung Kang, Ahreum Ahn, and Prim Patnasiri; DJs like Coucou Chloe, who had flown in from London to headline; stylists like Serian Heu and Hanyoung Seo, who collapsed onto bean bag chairs in the hookah bar room; and countless gate-crashers, including several overseas editors looking to escape from the staid Fashion Week shows taking place not 10 minutes away.
Just after midnight, as Coucou Chloe picked up her mic before a crush of kids in matching bomber jackets, Seo and Lee looked on proudly at the crowd they had gathered. The bass picked up, more vodka was poured, and a happy feeling settled over the room. “Finally,” it seemed to say. “We’re getting somewhere.”