A blue and white dot patterned dress, a white blouse and pink dress with braces, a blue shirt and yellow A-line skirt—these clothes are just like what many people wear for casual looks, which can be easily found on streets. Just from their appearance, no one could imagine that they are hanbok—Korean traditional clothing. Seemingly, it is not very different from ordinary looks, but a closer look reveals its refined grains. While it has a delicate atmosphere from its pastel tone, it also has a telltale peculiar charm from its unusual design.
At some previous time, people began to avoid wearing in daily life; they are too uncomfortable to be worn frequently. Thus, people do not wear them except on special occasions like traditional holidays and weddings. The same is true for Gaeryang hanbok—a reformed version of traditional hanbok.
Even though they are redesigned to be worn in modern life, it is hard to deny that they are still uncomfortable and old. Nowadays, however, the popularity of daily hanbok is on the rise.
Daily hanbok is a new form of hanbok which is literally designed to be worn on a daily basis. Their shapes are much more simplified, but still attached is the original beauty of hanbok. They
are also made with much more practical materials than conventional hanbok, and also keep up with the latest fashion trends. Thus, without distinction of age, sex, and regardless of time and place, people can now enjoy hanbok in their daily lives.
▲ Hong Hee Juh wearing her daily Hanbok. Provided by Hong Hee Juh.
In Korea University (KU), Hong Hee Juh (’14, Economics) has been fascinated by daily hanbok. “A Korean must be familiar with the concept of hanbok. It was same for me,” said Hong. According to her, she had always dreamed of wearing hanbok, but she hesitated to do so because she thought it was a bit difficult to wear in daily settings. Not before long, she heard about daily hanbok and decided to buy one. When asked about the merits of wearing daily hanbok, she replied, “The fact that they are not only beautiful but also comfortable is their greatest merit. People are sometimes surprised, but do not consider it weird or unusual.”
As daily hanbok attracts more people, the number of companies that specialize in daily hanbok is also growing. Ccomaque, a daily hanbok brand mostly for young 20s, is one of them. It is a young brand of Dolsilnai, which is a brand well-known for having designed both traditional and daily hanbok for about 20 years. Ccomaque was founded in the aim of committing themselves to reviving hanbok and promoting the hanbok culture, where people can enjoy wearing hanbok in a casual and stylish manner in their daily
▲ A variety of daily Hanbok are arranged. Photographed by Lee Hyejin.
“Daily hanbok is more like ordinary clothes than hanbok,” said Shin Hye Jin, manager of Ccomaque
Samcheong branch. According to Shin, the main customer base of the company are those in their 20s,
especially those who are interested in Korean clothes, and they wear daily hanbok casually without having to feel embarrassed. When The Granite Tower (GT) visited the shop, most of the customers were young. Both the exterior and interior of the shop was also tidy and sophisticated, and the young people passing by could not help but stop by to visit the shop.
When asked the specialty of daily hanbok, Shin chose the fabric used for the clothes. Unlike traditional hanbok, modern hanbok is easier to wash and more comfortable to move in. In fact, the upper jeogori and dress felt much cooler than ordinary clothes made with cotton. Shin added, “Another reason why today’s young people constantly find them attractive is that daily hanbok has its own unique atmosphere that comes from the harmonization of tradition and modern.” Lee Sang Mi, one of the visitors of Ccomaque, seemed to be surprised when she found colorful sundresses with the feel of hanbok, which she had been just looking for.
▲ Various kind of Accessories which go well with Hanbok attract customers as well. Photographed by Lee Hyejin.
However, there is still an obstacle that makes customers hesitant to buy daily hanbok—the high price. At Ccomaque, most of the clothes were over 100,000 won, which seemed to be quite a burden for young people, which accounts for the majority of the customers. The price is unreasonably high because the manufacturing system of daily hanbok is not yet mechanized on a mass production basis, but still depends on handwork and a small-sized production. Besides, since it is still another form of hanbok, the materials used such as hemp fabric, brocades, and ramie fabric are basically more expensive than other kinds
▲ GT reporter wearing dot patterned jeogori. Photographed by Lee Hyejin.
Nevertheless, daily hanbok’s specialty derives from the fact that they tried to think against the widely
accepted view that hanbok is inappropriate to be worn on a daily basis. Furthermore, many people finally decide to purchase them because they appreciate the time and effort that have been invested to make the daily hanbok. Hong also revealed that she had bought her upper jeogori and dress together for 300,000 won, but she added, “The price did not really bother me much since I had dreamed of wearing hanbok in daily life, and I could fulfill my hope. I knew it was worth the price.”
▲ GT reporter wearing upper jeogori and dress. Photographed by Lee Hyejin.
As more people gradually recognize this specialty product, the love for daily hanbok will continue to grow. At the same time, since daily hanbok originally appeared with the aim of reviving hanbok and its culture into present days, it is anticipated that people will love traditional Korean hanbok as well. As far as those who love daily hanbok are concerned, hanbok will always exist as one aspect of valuable Korean culture. Someday hanbok culture may once again settle into overall society.