In a world that seems to be catching up with itself after a series of unexpected events, the convergence of Seoul Fashion Week and Frieze Seoul comes as a refreshing synergy. At the epicenter of this collaboration stands WE11DONE, that recently hosted its ‘debut’ runway show at the K-Pop Square in Coex, coinciding with the Frieze event. This intersection of art and fashion marked not only a significant moment for the brand but also a strategic alignment with the growing global interest in Korean culture.
Though technically not its first runway show, WE11DONE’s event felt like a rebirth for the brand. After its initial runway show in Paris during the Fall 2020 menswear season, the brand underwent internal restructuring and a soft yet decisive relaunch. “I feel like this is our first show,” remarked brand manager Youngjin Kim, indicating a sense of renewal and forgetting the past before 2020. Despite historically positioning itself outside the mainstream South Korean fashion scene and showcasing its collections in Paris, WE11DONE chose to stage its comeback show in Seoul, recognizing the global spotlight on Korea.
The timing and location of the show were deliberate, reflecting a strategic decision by the brand to capitalize on the growing international fascination with K-Pop and the efforts of Western brands like GUCCI, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, DIOR, SAINT LAURENT, and CELINE to tap into this cultural phenomenon. “Everyone is looking at Korea right now,” Kim noted, explaining that the decision to host the show in their hometown felt right.
The theme of ‘home’ permeated the entire collection, which celebrated the designers’ childhood memories in Korea. Creative director Jessica Jung, who usually builds her collections around art references, drew inspiration from the work of artist Do Ho Suh this season. Known for transforming memories into spaces with his architectural pieces, Suh’s work resonated with WE11DONE’s desire to convert memories into clothes.
The runway, designed as an empty gallery, featured art pieces in the form of clothes, embodying memories from the designers’ past. A heather gray dress, inspired by a blanket and draped around the body like a child would do, a circle skirt with pleats and no waistband reminiscent of childhood craft projects, and optic white separates made from crinkly fabric with paper inserted between the cotton outer shell and lining to add texture, all contributed to a collection that felt nostalgic yet playfully inventive. The lineup also included curvaceous yet flattened jeans and knits, adding a paper doll-like quality that made the collection charming, albeit slightly unconventional.
This nostalgic journey also included boxy trompe l’oeil jackets and skirts featuring embossed details such as flowers, pockets, ties, and belts. “Each piece encapsulates a memory,” Kim explained, but like memories, the items did not always present themselves in their truest form. The proportions, somewhat naive and slightly off, echoed the charm of reminiscing and the inevitable distortions that come with it.
In attendance were celebrities like rapper G-Dragon, influencer Irene Kim, and model Lee Soo-hyuk, highlighting the collection’s appeal to a niche yet influential audience. The WE11DONE Spring/Summer 2024 collection served as a celebration of the interplay between reality and disappearing memories, familiar things turning into memories or vanishing altogether. It was a poignant reminder that while our memories may not always be accurate, there is a unique charm in our personal interpretations of the past.
WE11DONE’s decision to host its show in Seoul at a time when the world is watching Korea reflects a strategic alignment with the global cultural zeitgeist. The collection itself, a blend of nostalgia, art, and fashion, showcased the brand’s ability to innovate and create meaningful connections with its audience. The result was a collection that not only resonated with the attendees but also positioned WE11DONE as a brand capable of bridging memories and fashion in a way that feels both personal and universal.
© Photos: WE11DONE
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