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

Pots and pans, piles of shirts and sneakers, jewelry-laden tables, and containers brimming with bric-a-brac. In the tangle of streets around exit 3 of Seoul’s Dongmyo station, hundreds of distributors market everything from old Instamatic cameras to books, baggage and vinyl data.

Found in the South Korean capital’s historic district of Dongdaemun, Dongmyo’s bustling flea current market is scattered all-around a shrine created in honour of an ancient Chinese army commander. But there is more to the neighbourhood than bargains, classic clothing, and retro treasures. It also serves as a cultural hub for the city’s senior citizens to shop, socialise and display off their special type.

Chae Myung-hee and Shin Tae-geun
Remaining: Former women’s dresses designer Chae Myung-hee claims trend has often been a section of her life.
Ideal: Shin Tae-geun bought children’s clothing for 50 years in Daegu’s Seomun Industry, getting commenced her occupation as an assistant at a children’s dressmaker in which she learned to sew and make clothing. She nevertheless cares about vogue, and can make confident to look excellent prior to going out.
Composite: Kim Dong-hyun

“One working day, I discovered a senior gentleman on the lookout for clothes just like me. His fashion blew me away,” recollects Seoul-based photographer Kim Dong-hyun, 29, who spends his times documenting the city’s vivid senior avenue style scene, much of which he shares on Instagram.

Over the a long time, Dongmyo has gone through a great deal of modify, becoming a destination for young people’s newfound appreciation of vintage clothing on a price range. At its core although, Dongmyo has always been a playground for the city’s aged inhabitants.

“I’ve met some folks who have been heading there each individual week for 30 years,” Kim says, primarily based on the quite a few discussions he has had with the individuals he has photographed. South Korea is a swiftly ageing culture. By 2050, the range of elderly people today could account for almost 44% of the country’s population. Whilst numerous senior citizens sense more healthy than at any time and do not regard on their own as previous, aged loneliness is a significant trouble.

“In Korea, there are not numerous sites in which aged people today can go and have enjoyment. But in Dongmyo, they can go purchasing, they can enjoy, meet pals and consume makgeolli [rice wine]. It’s their location, and they never have to have to treatment about what other persons imagine.”

‘MacArthur’ also types component of Dongmyo’s army crew. He likes to reinterpret armed service design and style in a present day way whilst decorating his garments with vibrant embroidered patches and badges. Photograph: Kim Dong-hyun

“From their hairdos to their glasses and shoes, they know how to search excellent and consider treatment of them selves. They pursue their individual models and exceptional methods to categorical their individuality. Lots of of us think that fashionable folks are just young folks, a message further more amplified by the media. But fashion has no age,” he claims.

Among the senior citizens that cling out in Dongdaemun is Lee Seok-ki, a person member of a group identified as the “military crew”. The team is comprised of 3 gentlemen whose styles are various from every other: Lee prefers a minimalist standard army glance, when his close friends like to reinterpret military services fashion in a present day way, decorating garments with vibrant embroidered patches and badges.

If everything, senior manner is a lot more refined, Kim states. “It’s like wine. In your 20s, you just style almost everything, but by your 70s, your style is sharper – you know what you like.”

As a boy or girl, Chae Myung-hee, 74, developed a enthusiasm for manner that led her to do the job as a women’s outfits designer for 40 decades. Even during the pandemic when some people dressed down and averted makeup, she suggests she designed an energy to often glimpse great, irrespective of whether she was putting on a mask or not. “It’s usually been a part of me,” Chae suggests.

Lee Joong-hee and the Lady in Dior
Still left: Lee Joong-hee has usually liked dressing up. He enjoys to seem for clothing that he thinks glance wonderful on him devoid of having to pay notice to what many others may possibly consider.
Correct: Girl in Dior: When Kim Dong-hyun to start with observed her, she was dressed in Dior, so gave her the nickname. ‘Every time I meet her, I’m amazed by her feeling of design,’ he states.
Composite: Kim Dong-hyun

In his approaching ebook, Mut – Street Trend of Seoul, Kim delivers a glimpse into the globe of senior trend. He hopes the reserve will offer a new point of view on a demographic that is generally forgotten or below-appreciated. Kim states older men and women need to be recognised for their interesting and flair, which is regarded as meot in Korean, or as Kim likes to stylise it on the internet and in his e-book – mut.

“It’s more than the English term ‘cool’,” he suggests. “Sometimes it can imply anything is great, sometimes it can imply awesome, occasionally it is stunning or incredible. I can’t specific it in another way or translate the phrase, and don’t see the want for it.”

The photos provide hope, he says, and a new way of looking at ageing. “I consider some people today have hope when they see my pics. They can see that they too can carry on to be fashionable when they increase more mature.

“When a headline employs the word ‘grandfather’, we routinely assume a little something unfavorable … I want to show that seniors have personal personalities, that they far too can have their own meot.”