Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Awesome Things about Korea #34: Finding ways to combine old and new

Mixing old and new in Korea is nothing out of the ordinary.  In a country that thrives on the fastest Internet in the the world and boasted a whopping increase in the number of smartphone users within the past 2 years, Korea is no stranger to living on the cutting edge with technology and design.  Modern skyscrapers tower over traditional Korean homes and ancient palaces.  But in many cases, it still holds true to its roots, returning time and time again to what has been passed down from generation to generation.

One designer has found an innovative way to combine old and new in his new fashion line.  In searching for an eco-friendly way to manufacture clothes, Han Song created fabric from hanji, a Korean paper made from mulberry trees.  This paper is typically used in painting, but he was eventually able to find a combination of hanji, Lyrca, and Tencel to fashion a new kind of fabric.  Not only that, he commissioned artisans in rural southern Korean villages to hand-dye this fabric using traditional Korean dyeing methods.  This process is lengthy and extensive, but the result is natural and better for the environment.

Prices of clothes created from this new fabric rival that of popular world-wide brands, so it will be both a challenge as well as interesting to see how this small Korean brand will fare in the global market.  I hope for all its ingenuity it can survive, spurring others to seek more environmentally-friendly and economically feasible options for clothing manufacture.

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