Lately, I’ve noticed that the younger generations here in Seoul are embracing their culture and traditions a bit more. One big thing that’s happening is the sudden and active embrace of the hanbok. While it is a beautiful and well loved part of Korean culture, you didn’t see Koreans wearing it much outside of 설날 (lunar new year), 추석 (thanksgiving) and weddings. Even then, many have stopped wearing them on such occasions past a certain age. Partially due to the rapid modernization of Korea and partially because it’s a total pain to put on/wear.
Wearing a hanbok in public (outside of special holidays) has typically been reserved for foreigners and tourists who want to immerse themselves in the culture and indulge their curiosities. It’s not uncommon on any given day to find foreigners decked out in these colourful garments roaming through Gyeongbokgung or other traditional areas of Seoul like Bukchon Hanok Village.
Recently, however, I have noticed a large influx of young Koreans also joining in the colourful adventures of hanbok wearing. It’s even become a popular date idea for couples and fun weekend activity for groups of friends. The amount of hanbok rental spots has increased over night to meet the sudden increase of demands. Personally I’ve always been a fan and if you’re curious to give the hanbok experience a try too, you can check out my experience HERE and get more info on hanbok rental HERE. There’s even a variety of hanbok styles popping up for dogs!
What’s even better is that designers have been hard at work creating ways to incorporate the hanbok into everyday fashion and put more of a modern spin on it. Basically, the hanbok is well on its way to becoming a more relevant part of Korea’s current fashion scene. For the most part, the designs don’t stray much from their traditional counterparts. Simplification of layers, as well as variations in lengths and fabrics are all small adjustments being made.
All I can say is that I’m loving it! I’ve already added 3 new hanboks to my wardrobe. While there are quite a few designers chiming in on the concept, one of my favorite brands is Sodan Hanbok. The skirt I bought is a cotton polyester blend. It has a nice flowy breathable feel to it that kind of makes me feel like a princess. The top, on the other hand, is 100% cotton and a good amount thicker than the skirt. It’s really good quality, but also pretty stiff. I hope that will change after a few washes.
One thing I like about this brand is how forgiving the clothing is on more curvaceous bodies. While I am on the thiner side, I’m by no means thin by Korean standards. So sometimes I have a hard time finding a hanbok that fits well and doesn’t make me look/feel like a marshmallow. Both the skirts and tops at Sodan Hanbok are made in a “wrap style,” so you have a bit more leeway if your a bit top heavy or have fuller hips. On down side, I do find myself needing to re-tighten the strings from time to time. On the upside, it’s really comfortable and I feel a lot less self-conscious in it!
So if you’re interested in jumping in on the hanbok trend, I highly recommend trying out Sodan Hanbok. For your canine companions, I recommend checking out street vendors if you’re unsure about sizes and want to try it on your pooch. Otherwise, my favourite online shop is Ring Ding Dong Pet Shop. They have a great variety of well made products including some very cute hanbok. Plus all orders arrive beautifully packaged and sometimes come with a free gift! So until next time, happy shopping!