‘Fashion has no age’: the stylish senior citizens of Seoul | South Korea

Gerard Ortiz

Pots and pans, piles of shirts and shoes, jewellery-laden tables, and packing containers brimming with bric-a-brac. In the tangle of streets around exit 3 of Seoul’s Dongmyo station, hundreds of distributors offer every thing from outdated Instamatic cameras to guides, bags and vinyl information.

Found in the South Korean capital’s historic district of Dongdaemun, Dongmyo’s bustling flea sector is scattered all-around a shrine created in honour of an historic Chinese navy commander. But there is extra to the neighbourhood than bargains, vintage clothes, and retro treasures. It also serves as a cultural hub for the city’s senior citizens to shop, socialise and show off their exceptional fashion.

Still left: Former women’s clothing designer Chae Myung-hee states trend has often been a portion of her lifetime.
Proper: Shin Tae-geun bought children’s clothes for 50 yrs in Daegu’s Seomun Market, possessing began her profession as an assistant at a children’s dressmaker exactly where she discovered to sew and make garments. She nonetheless cares about trend, and helps make confident to glance perfect right before heading out.
Composite: Kim Dong-hyun

“One working day, I recognized a senior gentleman hunting for garments just like me. His type blew me absent,” recollects Seoul-based photographer Kim Dong-hyun, 29, who spends his days documenting the city’s vibrant senior avenue style scene, much of which he shares on Instagram.

Above the several years, Dongmyo has been through a ton of modify, turning into a location for younger people’s newfound appreciation of classic clothing on a finances. At its core however, Dongmyo has normally been a playground for the city’s aged inhabitants.

“I’ve fulfilled some individuals who have been heading there each and every 7 days for 30 many years,” Kim suggests, primarily based on the numerous discussions he has had with the folks he has photographed. South Korea is a rapidly ageing society. By 2050, the selection of elderly folks could account for almost 44% of the country’s inhabitants. While lots of senior citizens feel more healthy than at any time and do not regard by themselves as outdated, aged loneliness is a substantial trouble.

“In Korea, there are not a lot of places in which aged people can go and have enjoyable. But in Dongmyo, they can go procuring, they can engage in, meet up with close friends and drink makgeolli [rice wine]. It’s their space, and they never will need to treatment about what other men and women consider.”

MacArthur
‘MacArthur’ also forms portion of Dongmyo’s military crew. He likes to reinterpret navy type in a present day way whilst decorating his garments with colourful embroidered patches and badges. Photograph: Kim Dong-hyun

“From their hairdos to their eyeglasses and sneakers, they know how to look great and get treatment of by themselves. They go after their have variations and exceptional means to convey their individuality. Numerous of us feel that trendy men and women are just younger individuals, a information further amplified by the media. But vogue has no age,” he says.

Amid the senior citizens that hold out in Dongdaemun is Lee Seok-ki, one member of a group identified as the “military crew”. The team is comprised of 3 gentlemen whose kinds are various from each individual other: Lee prefers a minimalist traditional army search, when his pals like to reinterpret military services model in a modern day way, decorating outfits with colourful embroidered patches and badges.

If anything at all, senior trend is additional refined, Kim suggests. “It’s like wine. In your 20s, you just flavor every little thing, but by your 70s, your flavor is sharper – you know what you like.”

As a little one, Chae Myung-hee, 74, made a enthusiasm for style that led her to perform as a women’s apparel designer for 40 decades. Even all through the pandemic when some men and women dressed down and prevented make-up, she suggests she produced an exertion to always look fantastic, no matter whether she was putting on a mask or not. “It’s always been a part of me,” Chae states.

Lee Joong-hee and the Lady in Dior
Still left: Lee Joong-hee has normally relished dressing up. He enjoys to look for clothing that he thinks look excellent on him without having shelling out consideration to what others may imagine.
Suitable: Lady in Dior: When Kim Dong-hyun 1st noticed her, she was dressed in Dior, so gave her the nickname. ‘Every time I meet up with her, I’m amazed by her perception of model,’ he states.
Composite: Kim Dong-hyun

In his forthcoming reserve, Mut – Road Trend of Seoul, Kim delivers a glimpse into the planet of senior trend. He hopes the e-book will deliver a new viewpoint on a demographic that is usually ignored or underneath-appreciated. Kim suggests more mature people today ought to be recognised for their great and aptitude, which is identified as meot in Korean, or as Kim likes to stylise it online and in his ebook – mut.

“It’s additional than the English phrase ‘cool’,” he says. “Sometimes it can imply something is wonderful, at times it can suggest wonderful, sometimes it is magnificent or wonderful. I just can’t convey it differently or translate the word, and really don’t see the have to have for it.”

The pictures offer you hope, he states, and a new way of on the lookout at ageing. “I believe some folks have hope when they see my pictures. They can see that they much too can continue to be stylish when they grow more mature.

“When a headline works by using the term ‘grandfather’, we mechanically suppose anything unfavorable … I want to clearly show that seniors have personal personalities, that they also can have their possess meot.”

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