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Fashioning tradition in contemporary Korean fashion

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This article reconsiders the debate of ‘self-orientalization’ in Asian fashion within the context of contemporary Korean fashion and its place in the promotion of the national economy and culture. Case studies of Korean fashion labels such as Tchai Kim and Isae reveal that they have challenged the typical images of hanbok, the traditional Korean dress, and provided styles and brands that resonate with local Korean characteristics as well as global fashion concerns. By reinterpreting traditional shapes and purposes of hanbok, employing traditional dressmaking methods and craft skills, and cleverly presenting and promoting their products and brands, these fashion companies have created a hybrid design and style. This has been built from the development of complex and mutually reinforcing interactions between local and global fashion knowledge and practice. This article argues that these new movements in contemporary Korean fashion provide further understanding of the complex and multifaceted dialectics of Korean fashion, beyond the dichotomy of tradition versus modernity.
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Keywords: Isae; Korean fashion; Tchai Kim; globalization; hanbok; national identity; self-orientalization; tradition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Brighton, United Kingdom

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • The International Journal of Fashion Studies is a scientific peer-reviewed journal that fosters the worldwide diffusion of Fashion Studies. Fashion Studies is an interdisciplinary field of research that has been producing an extensive repertoire of theories, analyses and enquiries.
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