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

Pots and pans, piles of shirts and shoes, jewellery-laden tables, and containers brimming with bric-a-brac….

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

Pots and pans, piles of shirts and shoes, jewellery-laden tables, and containers brimming with bric-a-brac. In the tangle of streets near exit 3 of Seoul’s Dongmyo station, hundreds of vendors promote almost everything from outdated Instamatic cameras to textbooks, bags and vinyl records.

Located in the South Korean capital’s historic district of Dongdaemun, Dongmyo’s bustling flea current market is scattered about a shrine built in honour of an historic Chinese military commander. But there is additional to the neighbourhood than bargains, vintage outfits, and retro treasures. It also serves as a cultural hub for the city’s senior citizens to shop, socialise and show off their distinctive style.

‘Fashion has no age’: the stylish senior citizens of Seoul | South Korea
Left: Previous women’s outfits designer Chae Myung-hee suggests style has usually been a portion of her existence.
Right: Shin Tae-geun bought children’s outfits for 50 a long time in Daegu’s Seomun Sector, getting started off her occupation as an assistant at a children’s dressmaker exactly where she discovered to sew and make garments. She nonetheless cares about fashion, and tends to make confident to seem fantastic just before likely out.
Composite: Kim Dong-hyun

“One day, I recognized a senior gentleman hunting for apparel just like me. His design blew me away,” recalls Seoul-dependent photographer Kim Dong-hyun, 29, who spends his days documenting the city’s vibrant senior street manner scene, significantly of which he shares on Instagram.

More than the yrs, Dongmyo has undergone a lot of alter, getting a place for younger people’s newfound appreciation of classic clothes on a spending plan. At its core although, Dongmyo has constantly been a playground for the city’s elderly inhabitants.

“I’ve satisfied some persons who have been going there each and every 7 days for 30 a long time,” Kim says, centered on the numerous discussions he has had with the persons he has photographed. South Korea is a rapidly ageing modern society. By 2050, the selection of aged people today could account for almost 44% of the country’s population. When several senior citizens experience more healthy than ever and do not regard on their own as previous, aged loneliness is a significant dilemma.

“In Korea, there are not quite a few destinations exactly where elderly people today can go and have enjoyment. But in Dongmyo, they can go buying, they can perform, fulfill pals and drink makgeolli [rice wine]. It’s their location, and they really don’t require to treatment about what other people today assume.”

‘MacArthur’ also types aspect of Dongmyo’s army crew. He likes to reinterpret military design and style in a modern-day way even though decorating his apparel with vibrant embroidered patches and badges. Photograph: Kim Dong-hyun

“From their hairdos to their eyeglasses and footwear, they know how to search superior and just take care of them selves. They pursue their have designs and one of a kind techniques to convey their individuality. A lot of of us believe that that trendy men and women are just younger individuals, a information further more amplified by the media. But manner has no age,” he suggests.

Amongst the senior citizens that hold out in Dongdaemun is Lee Seok-ki, just one member of a group known as the “military crew”. The group is comprised of a few adult males whose designs are unique from every other: Lee prefers a minimalist traditional military services search, even though his pals like to reinterpret navy style in a present day way, decorating apparel with colourful embroidered patches and badges.

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

As a youngster, Chae Myung-hee, 74, made a passion for manner that led her to operate as a women’s apparel designer for 40 several years. Even during the pandemic when some people today dressed down and prevented make-up, she states she designed an hard work to often appear wonderful, no matter whether she was putting on a mask or not. “It’s normally been a part of me,” Chae states.

Lee Joong-hee and the Lady in Dior
Still left: Lee Joong-hee has usually savored dressing up. He enjoys to appear for dresses that he thinks glance terrific on him with out having to pay interest to what other folks may well assume.
Appropriate: Girl in Dior: When Kim Dong-hyun initial saw her, she was dressed in Dior, so gave her the nickname. ‘Every time I fulfill her, I’m amazed by her sense of fashion,’ he says.
Composite: Kim Dong-hyun

In his forthcoming book, Mut – Road Fashion of Seoul, Kim presents a glimpse into the entire world of senior style. He hopes the guide will provide a new perspective on a demographic that is normally forgotten or less than-appreciated. Kim suggests more mature folks ought to be recognised for their neat and flair, which is known as meot in Korean, or as Kim likes to stylise it on line and in his reserve – mut.

“It’s more than the English term ‘cool’,” he says. “Sometimes it can imply some thing is fantastic, at times it can suggest wonderful, sometimes it’s attractive or fabulous. I simply cannot express it otherwise or translate the term, and really do not see the require for it.”

The pictures present hope, he states, and a new way of looking at ageing. “I think some men and women have hope when they see my photographs. They can see that they much too can proceed to be fashionable when they increase more mature.

“When a headline works by using the phrase ‘grandfather’, we routinely presume something detrimental … I want to show that seniors have unique personalities, that they as well can have their possess meot.”