Bad World is an occasional column by Toni Thai Sterrett, a filmmaker, futurist, and founder focused on the intersection of fashion and technology.
Seoul, South Korea is not just a vibe—it’s a lesson.
In an era in which inflation is skyrocketing and global unrest is palpable, there’s a sense of ease in embracing minimalism, a lesson we might want to borrow from Seoul’s fashion scene.
In September, I traveled to South Korea to engage in a fireside chat about the future of fashion at the Avalanche House alongside Legitimate CEO Calvin Chan, moderated by Tiffany Lai of Ava Labs. The event took place during one of the most exciting weeks in Seoul with local culture events colliding, including Seoul Fashion Week, Seoul Art Week, and Korea Blockchain Week. The city was pulsing with a vibrant mix of fashion, art, and tech.
One revelation? Seoul’s fashion isn’t about extravagance—it’s about essence. Amidst the chaos of rising prices and uncertainty in much of the world, Seoul’s elegant restraint in fashion offers an antidote. It suggests a way of living not dictated by excess, but by meaningful choice.
Sidenote: One of my biggest takeaways was that Seoul does not have a “bad bitch culture” aka Instagram model style (lashes and body-conscious clothing). Sure, in the past, women in high shoes was the norm, but to see an embrace of comfortable shoes—mostly sneakers on the overwhelming majority of women, regardless of age—was exciting and reaffirming. My own feet, post-Covid, aren’t that excited about stilettos.
Having always appreciated bold and edgy styles, it was eye-opening to see Korean women embracing loose-fitting clothing not just as a fashion statement, but as an embodiment of comfort, function, and style.