Wooyoungmi Spring 2023 Menswear Collection

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This season marks the 20th anniversary of Wooyoungmi, but the fact that Madame Woo revisited her earliest collections when putting together the spring collection was entirely an accident. You see, they’d just relocated their headquarters in Seoul, and as the team organized the archives in the basement, she realized she needed to revisit that early collection, she said a day before her show. “The archives reminded me of the early 2000s ‘cool guy’ in Korea, and the world. Low rise, big, wide pants that sweep the street and then in contrast, tiny, fitted cropped tops.” The fact that these are also the trends the youth is experimenting with these days was not lost on her. “It happened by chance,” she added. “You know, life and things happen by chance.”

Although Madame Woo is engaging with popular street style trends, her interpretation strictly belongs in the Wooyoungmi universe. Best known for her tailoring, the suits for spring featured an unmistakable ease; slouchy double-breasted jackets worn and equally slouchy wide-legged pleated trousers in matching-or-not fabrics epitomized the modern suit silhouette, but longer single lapel jackets worn with wide cargo pants (the pant of the season) or baggy denim shorts certainly sought to redefine it. Underneath the jackets were tight-fitting sheer tees, shrunken knits and cardigans, and boxy, cropped button-down shirts. Yes there were bare midriffs, but only one or two inches of tastefully exposed skin, sometimes wrapped in a sparkly belly chain. The sparkly “diamond” jewelry was also a ubiquitous part of y2k style, and here it made an appearance as the aforementioned belly chains, stacks of necklaces and perhaps most strikingly as belts, which lent a surprising edge to the more casual looks, like on a pair of below-the-knee baggy shorts worn with a cropped hoodie. It was skater boy glam perfection, and the shorts, according to Madame Woo, were one of the only pieces that she brought directly from that first collection.

Over a palette of khaki, navys, greys, and workwear browns, were pastel purples, pinks, royal blue and a shade Madame Woo referred to with a laugh as “frog green.” Denim was a big part of the collection, except upon closer look, it wasn’t actually denim, but a cotton blend fabric. “It’s lighter and more airy than denim,” Madame Woo explained, “and it holds the color better.” A consideration for comfort and wearability seemed to be top of mind for the designer. She explained a preference of hemp over linen, for example, because hemp has a smoother texture and wrinkles less. “Everyone is looking for new trends but they don’t want to be comfortable.”

Everyone that is looking for new trends is indeed likely to find them in Wooyoungmi’s spring collection. As usual, the clothes were shown on men and women, though there was no differentiation between which pieces were meant for each. “I want it to be a shared wardrobe for men and women,” she explained. Indeed the folks of all genders who populated her runway looked at home in the roomy silhouettes, in the wide legged trousers, oversized jackets, and skater-ready looks. So much of the nostalgia for the early 2000s seems difficult to parse and adapt to as an adult when you lived through it as a teen the first time, but Madame Woo’s approach at Wooyoungmi could make anyone want to do it all a second time around.

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