In the pre-historic fashion universe, and I mean fashion since time immemorial up to a few years back, fashion rules have been dictated by different bibles — Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Elle, name them. Trends before were made in studios, as determined by fashion experts and presented by magazines through photographs of men and women wearing next season Calvin Klein with matching Martin Dingham shoes. That was fashion before.
But now, fashion is entirely different. It embraced individualism more and became less formulaic. Furthermore, the streets — the masses’ grassroots — became the runway of stylish men and women. This brought the rise of street fashion, which could be sub-divided into different street movements, each one with a different style of clothing and a different point of view in terms of fashion. With the rise of street fashion came the rise of many blogs dedicated to what random people wear in a random day, just like The Sartorialist which is like my own personal fashion bible.
However, even in street fashion, we can never undermine the importance of a great pair of shoes. An outfit is never complete without the perfect pair of footwear. A great outfit should always be complimented by good shoes. Lady Gaga once sang “A girl is as hot as the shoes she choose.” This magnificent line from her song Fashion is not just reflective for women but also with men.
In Korea, shoes have become an equal with clothes. A certain look, which could be part of the fashion branding of celebrities, will never be complete without a pair of eye-catching shoes. Boys will be seen going from polished pairs to chunky ones.
Here are a few shoe styles that have become a trend in the streets of Korea.
1. LEATHER DERBY. It’s not a cock fight. It is a style of Men’s shoe characterized by shoelace eyelet tabs that are sewn on top of a single-piece vamp.Leather derbys exude this kind of formality that a look tends to go towards the semi-formal or street-formal (should this category exist).
Pair it with: Derbys go with a more polished look. Choose more comfortable garment. Cotton shirts over blazers will never go wrong. Monochromes, neutrals, and subdued tones (like pales and lights) work best with derby. To add a pop of color, choose pants from the color spectrum I mentioned but still, would pop out, like khaki. You can also opt for a belt with a bolder color. Remember, you can do either (pants or belt) but never both.
2. SUEDE DERBY. While leather derbys give out a formal touch, suede derbys are more fun and more outdoorsy. They come in various colors and designs and make an entire outfit look preppy, young, but still sophisticated.
Pair it with: Button downs. Suede shoes freshen up a neat casual look. It makes it look more youthful but still very sophisticated.
3. BOOTS. Boots have made a major prominence in Korean street fashion. They all come from various sizes and prototypes — ankle boots, laced-up boots, etc. The technique with boots is to keep the clothes simple as possible. Boots are already make a bold footwear choice so it is just appropriate to keep the entire look balanced by playing the clothes down.
Pair it with: For ankle knee boots, you will never go wrong with shorts. Make it look preppy by wearing a varsity shirt or a sweatshirt. It gives a laid back feel. At the same time, the attention remains on the boots but still giving the right amount of appreciation to your outfit.
For boots with higher cuts, it is best paired with fitted jeans (for slim people only). You can also try emanating the utilitarian vibe. This brings out the tougher side of you. Sober it up with a scarf or a hat.
Shoes are an integral part of Korean street fashion. In a society where everything is all about fun and spunk and colors, it pays also to pay attention to downplaying outfits. Sometimes, we can be a stand out not because of the clothes we wear but because of the shoes we use.
Now that’s hot!