Out with the old and in with the new, as the saying goes. Based on what the runways of fall fashion shows indicated, 2020 is going to be an epic year for men’s fashion, and one of the year’s biggest trends comes to us from Korea. The ultra-hip, streetwear-inspired fashion is bold and edgy, eclectic and avant garde, and it follows exactly zero rules.
While that’s the biggest appeal of Korean fashion trends — the utter lack of do’s and don’ts — it also makes it difficult to define. What we can say about it is that Korean men’s fashion is almost painfully chic.
Whether you’re just looking for a little new year outfit inspo or want to overhaul your entire closet, here’s a guide to this year’s best Korean fashion trends for men and how to make them work for you.
Defined by clothing items that can just as easily be worn for exercising as a day date, the athleisure trend has been gaining steady popularity for the past few years and doesn’t show signs of slowing any time soon. Korean fashion is no exception and in fact, athleisure is incredibly well-executed in South Korea, where high fashion pieces are expertly paired with casual basketball shorts, baseball caps, and joggers. The style is genius, really: Comfortable yet stylish enough to go literally anywhere.
To make the athleisure look your own, balance casual gym-ready pieces with something slightly more refined. Try pairing these classic Adidas three-stripe joggers with a smart Barbour waxed cotton jacket.
Dressing in one hue from head to toe is decidedly cool-guy chic and appears completely effortless, so it’s no wonder monochromatic outfits are the unofficial uniforms of Korean men.
Although by technical definition monochrome means one color, take some liberties here. Your individual outfit pieces don’t have to be the same shade, and you can mix in patterns from the same color family as well.
Think a baby blue striped shirt paired with medium wash jeans and a navy jacket or black combined with varying shades of gray.
To pull off the monochrome look, consider wearing a bold patterned backpack or shoes with a bright accent to break up the colors, especially when wearing all black.
You can’t go wrong with a genuine lambskin leather jacket like this one from Everlane, and no man’s wardrobe is complete without a pair of all-black sneakers that will seamlessly transition from the gym to happy hour.
At the opposite end of the fashion spectrum from monochrome, we have this head-turning trend. Neon has been popping up in Korean fashion for some time now and it seems it will continue to enjoy cult-like popularity.
This streetwear trend inspired by k-pop works best when it’s kept to one statement piece, such as a jacket or shoes. Even if you’re typically a conservative dresser, the neon trend is a great way to experiment and elevate your otherwise ordinary uniform of jeans and a tee.
We get it, the neon trend isn’t for the faint of heart. The key here is to be confident, however you choose to wear this one. These Alexander McQueen sneakers are a great way to dip your toe into the trend (pun very much intended), or go all-in with this solid tee from ASOS. For the price, you don’t have much to lose.
Logos have been gradually getting bigger and bolder, particularly in Korean street fashion.
Clothing manufacturers are cranking out merchandise to keep up with the demand, and while activewear and outerwear seem to have the lion’s share of logo-laden pieces, in-your-face logos are making appearances on everything from basic t-shirts to briefcases.
The only hard and fast rule when it comes to logomania is to stick to wearing one brand at a time.
In order to successfully pull off the logomania trend, avoid wearing multiple brands’ logos and go minimal on the other parts of your outfit.
For those guys who aren’t ready to flaunt their favorite logos quite so proudly, consider a printed scarf and tuck it into your jacket.
This trend reminiscent of the ’90s grunge era made a big entrance for both men and women during Seoul Fashion Week. It’s easy to drown in this trend, so balance is the keyword when it comes to the oversized look.
Keep patterns simple — or even better, non-existent — with this style and instead look for unique but subtle details like an asymmetrical hem or embroidered jeans pockets. Similarly, if you’re wearing a baggy shirt, opt for slim pants and vice-versa.
This is a dramatic trend, so you want to choose versatile pieces that won’t miss the mark. These Karl Kani baggy denim jeans fit the bill, as does this basic Oversized Fleece Sweatshirt from Boohoo Man. Bonus: Choose the sweatshirt in one of the bright colors and you’ll hit the neon trend as well.
The average climate throughout Korea is on the chilly side for much of the year, with winters being exceptionally long and frigid. Jackets are a staple wardrobe piece, and it shouldn’t surprise us that they tend to have a distinctly Korean twist.
Think dramatically and unexpectedly puffed sleeves, leather jackets with uber-edgy details, and asymmetrical hems or unusual embellishments.
If you love the statement jacket trend, be sure to wear something simple underneath so the jacket can shine and look for eye-catching details.
This trend isn’t necessarily new, but it is getting increasingly dramatic. These days it seems the more destroyed the jeans are, the better.
Somehow, wearing barely-hanging-on jeans or those bleached to a point that they’re nearly white is ultra-cool, so this trend fits right in with other Korean fashion trends and even complements some of them really well.
We know we’re going to sound like a broken record, but balance is everything in order to pull this look off. Limit the tears to your jeans and pair them with something more refined.
Whether you go the store-bought or DIY route, the only rule is that your jeans should be anything from perfect, so have fun with it. H&M makes a great pair of trashed skinny jeans and you can’t go wrong with these BDG Extreme Destructed jeans.
Mix & Match
The final trend is perhaps the most glorious of all the Korean fashion trends, and truly it’s not technically a trend at all. It’s the trend where you don’t follow any particular fads at all and instead ignore every rule you’ve ever been told.
Pile on the accessories, layer shorts and pants, wear vests over jackets, pair up two different plaid prints, or wear two clashing colors. Literally anything goes with this trend, and that’s the beauty of it.
If you’re going to try the no-rules street fashion trend, there’s one must: Whatever you’re wearing, pair it with confidence and a bold smile. This Superdry colorblock jacket is a great statement piece you can build an outfit from, and this Maison Margiela mismatch-striped shirt is a must.