According to writer Fiona Bae in her new book Make Break Remix: The Rise of K-style, this intimidating melee is born of South Korea’s tangled political, cultural, and financial histories. It is, however, often rendered frustratingly abstract by the practice of affixing a ‘K’ to its every export. K-style, says Bae, is an overused catchphrase for a vast array of creative disciplines, such as chefs, product designers, filmmakers, musicians, choreographers, fashion designers, architects, artists, and photographers, many of whom wrestle with this vague two syllable concept as defining what they do.
Bae’s subjects include designers BAJOWOO and the women-owned clothing brand MISCHIEF. “When I told them I was doing a book about K-style, they were like ‘What?’” recounts Bae, who was born and raised in South Korea, and now lives in London. “I explained I wasn’t trying to define K-style but chose them because I believe they’re doing something brave. K-style is such a contrast and a mix, so I wanted to show the eclecticism of Korean creatives. It’s like when people say ‘New York style’, people have an image of being aggressive and confident. So [in relation to K-style], let’s talk about young Koreans’ attitude.”