I am a fashion newb. I have eyes and a general sense of what’s good and bad, but generally I don’t know the first thing when it comes to la mode. What’s in season, what’ll be in next season, who designers are, why they’re special; it’s all foreign to me, and has been as long as I’ve been alive. But since meeting Fii after moving to Seoul, she’s made me a little more aware of the trends and all that, and so she dragged me along to Hera Seoul Fashion Week SS18 last week to show me the madness.
I was terrified. I won’t lie. I had prepared my outfit it in advance and had it approved by Fii (to make sure I wasn’t going to look a fool or make any faux pas in front of all the savvy people there). On our way to the venue, I was no longer human. I was but a quivering bag of flesh, bones and anxiety, feeling completely out of my depth. I wondered to myself what on earth was I getting myself into, but by then it was too late.
Alas, I only live a short subway ride from the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP); the central hub where Seoul’s Fashion Week is held. It’s where you’ll find all the people who want to be noticed, and all the people who want to notice the people who want to be noticed. Being so close, at least, meant that my feeling like a weirdo all dressed up early on a Saturday afternoon lasted only a short time, as when we reached the station at DDP I started spotting obvious Fashion Week-goers and felt a little less like a sore thumb.
Fii had been to the event before, a few days (also months and years) previous, so she knew exactly where she wanted to enter from, for full effect. We crossed under the road and walked along to the main ramp down the side of the building, and It. Was. Mental. Everywhere you looked, people roamed around (more like waddled, with the size of the crowds) dressed to the nines in their finest fashion-forward (and sometimes questionable) clothes. People lined the walls of the walkway, waiting (some practically begging) to be photographed.
The whole spectacle was an exciting, intense and extremely fun assault on the senses. Everyone looked at everyone; watching, observing, assessing. But it didn’t feel negative, not in the slightest. With so many styles, roaming from one extreme to another, and another, and another, the whole thing felt very accepting no matter what you wore (with the exception, on my part, of a particular outfit choice which was an insult to Koreans, but that was for historical reasons rather than fashion). As someone who rarely steps outside her comfort zone, I felt really good in myself and my clothes. Having people ask to take photos of and with you is great reassurance, and quite the ego boost!
By the end of the day, I surprised myself by being sad that it was over. It was a lot of fun and I’m already excited for March, when Fashion Week will come around again. I’m already planning to go, and if you haven’t been before I highly recommend it. However, if you’re anything like me, you might need a little encouragement, so here are my 5 tips on how to survive your first Seoul Fashion Week:
I worked myself into a state of near-panic at the thought of going outside all fashion-ed up only to be surrounded by people who were better fashion-ed than I was. Take a breath, put your sunglasses on (seriously, these helped SO much) and pretend like you know things. Even if you still feel like a sack of potatoes in a shop full of strawberries who know what they’re doing, no-one else will have the foggiest idea.
Take your camera, and make sure your batteries are charged and memory card is empty. There are countless people there just begging for you to take their picture, and you’re going to want to snap away at all the cool people in their cool clothes just being cool. Some of their cool might even rub off on you, and (if you’ve dressed for the occasion) you might want to take some cool-looking pictures too. DDP is a striking venue and all the neutral grey metal and concrete provide a great backdrop for all your fab-ness.
Now I hate to be the sensible parent in the room, but all the walking round and dodging camera-wielding fanatics (not in a ‘no pictures please’ sense, but literally in a dodging them – they are everywhere and I bumped into a few dozen of them trying to get out of the way of other photos) is tiring work. We stopped for coffee and cake in a newly-opened café in the Design Market underneath DDP which set us straight for another couple of hours mooching. It was hot and sunny, so water was important, but even if it were cooler weather, time ran away from us and before I knew it, it had been a few hours since I’d last had a drink. If you can, keep some water with you. If not, remember to find somewhere to rehydrate every hour. You’ll thank yourself.
This is actually something that I didn’t do, but caught myself wishing that I had. I spotted quite a few people that I recognised from Instagram and YouTube, but didn’t work the courage up to speak to them. I’m now wishing I had (if only to be able to say that I’ve met them l o l), but you don’t have to live in regret like me. Go over to them and strike up a conversation if they’re not busy! You might even make a new friend. (Do I sound like a teenage girl’s magazine yet?) But really, it’s a great chance to network, and there’s a good chance you might get along since you’re at an event at which the attendees all presumably share a common interest.
Enjoy yourself. Once the feeling of needing to be accepted abates, you’ll find yourself having a lot of fun, despite the fact that you’re literally just walking around looking at people’s clothes and trying not to step on anyone in the process. Find inspiration and possibly warning in the things that you see. Think about what you might like to try, what you definitely don’t, and what you need in your wardrobe ASAP. Since Saturday and seeing the abundance of creatives showing themselves off through their clothing, I’ve felt a lot more inspired to channel myself through my outfits, and to not be scared to stand out a little. (Be warned, I may be spotted in fishnets in the near future. This is not a drill.)