Tapping into Seoul’s techwear scene

Functionality is dominating Seoul’s streetwear scene. We ask those in the know how to get the look.

There is nothing subtle about the techwear aesthetic. But it sure is practical. While brands like A‑COLD-WALL*, adidas Y‑3, ACRONYM, Stone Island and Nike ACG have been peddling technical pieces – that straddle both style and utility – for some time, nowhere has the full techwear aesthetic been as popular as it is right now on the streets of Seoul. 

If fashion is pain, techwear is the exception. From jet black anoraks and protective pocketed vests, to practical softly tailored trousers and heavily zipped buckle sling bags – these looks are as functional as they are fashionable. The benefits? Staying bone dry in a downpour thanks to water repellent fabrics like Gore-Tex (designed way back in 1969), being visible at all times thanks to hi-vis panels/​reflective fits and having multiple pockets in which to store your essentials – phone, keys, lighter, snacks – without compromising your street credentials.

In Seoul, urban techwear enthusiasts seek out vintage tailoring to elevate their look: oversized men’s suit jackets, boxy blazers spliced to a crop, and wide-collared shirts (usually worn beneath a bondage-esque harness). In other words the aesthetic owes a lot to Blade Runner: think Roy Batty’s tech-noir style mixed with Rachael’s sharp power suits. We tracked down four of Seoul’s biggest techwear buffs to talk future purchases, inspiration and the city’s shopping spots.

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How would you describe your style? 

I’m not really sure [of] the best way to describe my style. I like looking at current trends as a whole (techwear, neon, visual Kei) and try to put my own twist on it. Currently into cybertech or cyberpunk.

What draws you to techwear?

My two favourite pieces have always been accessories and jackets. What techwear has done is combine what can be seen as simple clothing or function-first accessories and made it into a unique style. A lot of the street fashion in Asia has expanded on this with new designs that don’t focus on functionality or uniqueness, but created something that adds to an outfit as a whole while not seeming out of place.

Why do you think the trend has taken off?

I can’t really speak for everywhere, but I think in the west, sportier looks started to come into everyday fashion, and then combined with the black militaristic style that a lot of Korean artists started wearing as well as Japanese influence, it really made a boom quickly. For me it’s a style that resembles elements of a lot of other niche fashions, so many different types of people could take pieces of their old wardrobe and fit in to it. Then combined with popular street brands like Off-White or Y‑3, it slowly started to take its shape about 2 years ago into what it is now.

What are your favourite techwear brands?

I really like Black by Vanquish, Steelback and Enshadower.

Where are the best shopping spots in Seoul? 

I personally like going through the more popular areas such as Hongdae to get inspiration for certain looks, but Itaewon also has some good spots.

Who do you love to follow?

@youarenocturnal

What item of clothing do you want to purchase next?

I have been into bullet proof vests lately, so I think something like that would be nice to have more of. I also try to make my own clothing if I can, so I’m working on a long mesh jacket right now.

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How would you describe your style? 

I want to say rainbow of achromatic. Many people say colourless is boring” but I think achromatic colour can show variety of charm.

What draws you to techwear?

At first, I was just attracted to not normal”. As time goes by, the details of [the] clothes and the special mood that techwear only does fascinates me.

What are your favourite techwear brands?

My favourite brand is @sops.official. Not really [well known], but their clothes are a work of art. I am always amazed at their delicacy and uniqueness.

Where are the best shopping spots in Seoul? 

I think Garosu-gil road of Sinsa station. [You] can buy inexpensive and high-priced product there.

What item of clothing do you want to purchase next?

I prefer mix-match, that is not the mood of regular techwear but these shoes.

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How would you describe your style?

No colour but silhouette.

What draws you to techwear?

I used to think that functionality and style are totally separate properties, but this style has created all new silhouettes with technical items such as big pockets or buckles that are fashionable and functional. I was very surprised [of] that concept at first.

What are your favourite techwear brands?

D.gnak is my favourite brand. It’s not actually entirely a techwear brand but they also have a similar style in some collections. I often use their items as a base and combine other accessories to compose a techwear style.

Where are the best shopping spots in Seoul?

I do not tend to do shopping in person but 압구정 (Apgujeong) is a nice place to shop at specialty stores which import many high-end brands.

Who do you love to follow?

@ibgucut

What item of clothing do you want to purchase next?

Nike X peaceminusone Airforce1

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How would you describe your style?

I like the existing techwear and goth look very much, but I am trying to add a little more colour these days. Sooner or later, I would like to perfect [my] favourite combination of black and white and red and give you a new look.

What draws you to techwear?

Techwear is forward-looking, making the best of function and performance. This is the biggest attraction.

What are your favourite techwear brands?

My favourite techwear brands are: A‑COLD-WALL*, Prada, Alyx studio, Y‑3, Nike, C.P. Company and Stone Island. 

Where are the best shopping spots in Seoul?

Best shopping spots in Hong-dae, Dongmyo and Myeong-dong. 

Who do you love to follow?

My favourite style instagram is @cheristyle_, @naras._, @melovemealot and @katie_westwood.


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