We spent time in Seoul this week for a fashion project. Between research and retail observations we held lots of pop-up analysis sessions in Seoul's many coffee shops and listening bars.
In popular style and culture areas like Seongsu-Dong we noticed evolving trends in vintage clothing selections and bakery themes, but the most acutely visible theme was the dialogue between brands' increasing urban media presence and the gentrification of traditional industrial areas.
As an example, a Burberry exhibition straddling several unused buildings and featuring the Norman's Café installation that has been heavily criticised in the UK for 'cosplaying the working class' sits literally a unit away from a metalsmith and repair shops. With this in mind, Burberry's approach does feel deliberately provocative; perhaps riffing on their own conflicted relationship with class (with questionable success). It feels markedly different from other forms of civic branding strategies we see from luxury brands.
Take Louis Vuitton, who are currently partnering with the newly opened Fotografiska in Shanghai. The strategy centres on an extension of their City Guide series and branding transportation like the Suzhou Creek boat stops. Like their events in other cities like Qingdao, the brand 's approach is more civic - choosing to celebrate the places that can bring inhabitants of cities together across a range of cultural destinations, rather than further expose the economic and identity fault lines that divide them.