Traditional with a Pop twist: Korean sustainable fashion brand Danha

I’ve never been shy about my love for Kpop … yes, I’m a YG stan from way back! Which is why I gleefully watched the latest video from the entertainment company’s girl group BlackPink with eyes wide open to spot the latest Korean fashion trends. 

Korean sustainable fashion brand Danha 5

And there, front and center were some fabulous traditional Hanbok-with-a-twist garments. I recognised the fabrics, prints and decorative details from all those Kdramas we all watch, but teamed with boots, short-shorts and minis, this was definitely not something Queen Seondeok would wear!

I was already following a number of other Korean brands that were working with traditional fabrics and clothing shapes on Instagram, but these garments were a cut above with the attention to detailing and how modern they looked. Eventually I tracked down the brand behind the looks and discovered Danha. 

Danha is not only a brand that is focused on creating a modern version of traditional Korean clothing, it is also a sustainable and ethical fashion brand – not something that is common in the Korean fashion industry. 

The brand describes itself as “sustainable ethical ‘slow fashion’ rather than ‘fast fashion’ that causes global warming, [and] will contribute to improving the world’s environmental problems”. 

Named after the designer Danha, the brand has always been about two things – celebrating traditional garment heritage in Korea, and being environmentally responsible. The brand works with organic and recycled fabrics, upcycles fabric offcuts – it creates gorgeous foldable shopping totes – and using the traditional flat-cut method of Korean garment design, actively reduces fabric waste. Danha also produces limited runs of stock and will create made-to-measure garments.

WATCH THE VIDEO: 

Designer Danha discusses how her clothes ended up on BlackPink

The garments are mostly created out of organic cotton, and eco-fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles. Silk and an eco-friendly tweed is also used for some items, and the brand continues to experiment with creating new sustainable fabrics. Their organic cotton complies with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and is grown in a three year process with no chemical fertilizers, plus only natural starch and wax are used during the spinning process. 

Like many brands these days, Danha also uses recycled and biodegradable packaging, and is in the process of trialing an upcycled paper shipping box made of recycled materials.

Another part of the brand’s ethos is its ethical production methods, describing its sewists as “free workers who can choose what they want to do”, in a collegiate workshop environment where all the garments are handmade, “working comfortably together, respecting each other”.

From the customers’ perspective Danha is also remarkably inclusive unlike other Korean fashion brands which historically have had issues with sizing, creating only small sizes and with little consideration of non-tiny shoppers. Danha, on the other hand, is quite inclusive. The brand’s ‘free size’ ranges from Korean sizes 44 to 66 (that’s XS to M on the international size chart), wrap skirts go up to a 35in waist. Garments also come in sizes that are equal to an international L, and the brand will also customise garments to order in any size you like.

Those are all the sustainable and ethical requirements on the current hit list, but what about the clothes? 

Danha’s aesthetic fits neatly into the growing #cottagecore movement of light layers, ruffles, soft voluminous shapes and an ethereal, fairy vibe. Think drifting around in the moonlight waiting for your prince to arrive while simultaneously discovering a herbal cure for cancer, but in Seoul. These are pretty, pretty clothes with a distinctly Asian traditional take. 

Should you wear them if you aren’t Korean, or Asian? Yes! If you love the look it doesn’t matter where you come from, just make sure you don’t do something stupid like add ‘yellow face’ makeup or hair.  

Shop Danha online at en.danhaseoul.com

WATCH THE BLACKPINK VIDEO THAT STARTED IT ALL …

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