Hanbok (한복) is a set of traditional clothing that has been worn by Koreans for over 1,600 years. Its historical importance is constantly linked to the Joseon Dynasty, even though it has older records of its existence. Today, lets look at some brands keeping modern hanbok alive!
Hanbok is known for using cores, fabrics, and accessories to distinguish social classes. An example of this would be the figure of the king himself, who wore clothes in red and violet with Geumbak (금박), a technique of applying thin gold threads under the fabric.
With the fall of Joseon, Hanbok ceased to be an everyday garment. Now it is only reallty worn during big ceremonies, and during the Seollal and Chuseok holidays.
However, in an attempt to connect with the fashion of the past, hanbok has gained new attention from some well-known brands. Traditional and modern styles have been combined to create lifestyle Hanbok (생활한복). Meet some brands that bet on this connection between the past and the future.
Founded in August 2018 by designer Kim Dan Ha, Danha Seoul positions itself as a brand that “expresses the beauty of Korea in fashion, inspired by traditional patterns, fabrics, and styles”.
Current Korean fashion emphasizes pastel tones and the contrast they can make with black and white. In this context, modern hanbok goes beyond the bright, overlapping colors of traditional hanbok.
Designer Kim seems to notice this trend and lighter prints. They balance the pieces not made up of a composite color. Above, see blue and light pink prints in balance with the plain white and black colors, in the first photo. Then, light blue (on tulle) and light pink (on the elevation) in the last image. Designer Kim brings the main elements of the hanbok the jacket (Jeogori – 저고리) and the skirt (Chima – 치마).
In addition to clothing for adults, there is also a children’s collection that is worth checking out! The brand’s pieces gained even more prominence when BLACKPINK used some of their models in the How Do You Like That MV.
Leesle is a clothing brand created by designer Hwang Lee Sle in 2014, which seeks to incorporate street fashion into hanbok.
According to the brand’s official website: “The DNA that flows through Leesle is Hanbok”. Hanbok doesn’t have to be heavy and complicated. It can be clothes you can wear with sneakers, jeans, or a backpack. These are close that fit in anywhere, whether in cinemas, cafes, or campsites. Overall, the brand offers nice clothes to wear in daily life.
These are clothes that exist for modern times, not dead clothes tied to the past in the name of tradition. Leesle’s clothes are not traditional Korean clothes, but fashion that the world resonates with.
Leesle is a consolidated brand in the market. Designer Hwang manages beyond pastel tones, also bringing bright and dark colors. In the first photo, we see a unisex black Jeogori jacket, which fits the brand’s ideal of “an outfit so every day that you can even wear with a backpack and jeans”. The second photo also features a traditional hanbok accessory to compose the costume. The headband in the model’s hair was formerly part of the Heukrip (흑립) hat. The brand has dressed artists like Jimin (BTS), Taemin (SHINee), and Lai Kuan Lin (Wanna One).
Seorinarae focuses on modern hanboks with different prints. You can find stripes, polka dots, and even plaid. The brand is also known for the famous set clothes, widely used by couples. One of the main traditional elements incorporated by the brand is the cut in the collar and in the opening of the jackets.
The collar has a triangular shape and the clothes close in an X. Some, unlike the classic, close the buttons in the middle of the body. Additionally, out of all the listed brands, this is the best fro men who are interested in trying modern hanbok. They have unique yet classic styles that would add flare to any man’s wardrobe.
Coreano brings the modern hanbok in the most casual and comfortable style. The brand is based on its 10 years of experience making traditional hanboks. The brand trys as hard as possible to bring genuine Korean dress into the 21st century.
Coreano incorporates pastel tones and unique patterns. They bring delicacy and joviality while taking the risk of printing more flashy clothes in strong and dark colors. Some of their highlights are its winter clothes and the collar of the Jeogori jacket.
Current Korean fashion is known for being simple yet elegant. This could not describe DailyHan pieces more. This brand has modern hanbok with a minimalist touch, despite also working with printed pieces and bright colors.
You can find elegant colors, such as gray and light pink. DailyHan is also known for producing a wide range of short-sleeved Jeogori. Adittionally, you can find a wide range of short and long skirts, as well as dresses and accessories, avalible for sale.
The Etsy Shop is an e-commerce platform that sells various products and clothing made by individual designers and artists.
Among the stores that use the platform is Bellahanbok. The brand serves a variety of audiences, from children to the elderly, both men and women. Medium and transparent sleeves are one of its differentials, as well as the Chima skirt under a dress (second photo) and tone-on-tone clothes (first photo).
The Tchai Kim brand belongs to the famous designer Kim Young Jin and works mainly with different cuts and layers of clothing. You can see some risks being taken in the designs as well as extravagant colors and prints.
Traditional hanbok was sewn to suit the body’s movements and flow with them. This idea of a garment that moves together with the wearer is present in Kim Young Jin’s design. The brand is known for its originality inside and outside of Korea.
Tchai Kim has been cited by Vogue and Great Big Story, as well as a major icon in the fashion world. This brand has also been selected for exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK.
Zijangsa is a brand that aims at comfort, especially on hot and humid days. Their products are known for their various color options.
The differential and main product of Zijangsa is the modern Seungbok (승복). The Seungbok was the traditional clothing worn daily by the monks. It is a simple style with wide pants and a comfy top. The brand gained more popularity after being worn by Jungkook (BTS) at an airport.
I hope you enjoyed this historical summary of hanbok and Korean fashion. If you want to learn more about hanbok’s role in the modern world, Click Here. Many schools in South Korea have begun incorperating traditional dress into its uniforms.