For the last four seasons, two rails of sportif, elegant menswear have been selling out on the lower ground floor of Harrods with little ballyhoo. The neat sweatshirts with graphic appliqué fronts inspired by Matisse’s dazzling cutouts and the tailored coats in lightweight felt with sporty hoods are by Solid Homme – a contemporary Korean brand with a 30-year history. ‘We wanted the consumers to discover the brand for themselves,’ says Caroline Kim, chief operating officer of Solid Corporation. ‘Now we hope to play on our strengths for the next 60 years or more.’
It was in 1988 that Madame Woo – the designer behind the venerated Wooyoungmi label – noticed a yearning among fashionable young Koreans for men’s clothes with a certain European élan. Casual but with formal twists, Solid Homme and Wooyoungmi have led the market ever since, making way for the likes of Juun.J and Songzio. Both enjoyed local success long before international recognition. ‘The global market is following what we experienced in Korea over the last ten years, where menswear is now an equal to womenswear,’ Kim says. With 24 standalone stores in Korea, now would seem like the appropriate time to look further afield.
By A/W 2017 the collection will be sold in China, Hong Kong, France, Canada, US and the Middle East – impressive for a brand that has only been available internationally for less than two years. ‘We want the label to go beyond being seen as Korean or a K Fashion brand, but more as a brand that appeals to fashion audiences around the world. We see London as the true global leader in creative menswear.’ Her words coincide with the launch of a personal shopping service at Harrods and the reopening of a glossy 28,000 sq ft area in Harvey Nichols, both aimed at men. The city is busy smartening up its act.
It isn’t fashion hokum to say that at its core, Solid Homme’s proposition is one wedded to authenticity in design, quality and production. Familiar details appear in unexpected places; the clothes are quiet and confident. ‘Nothing is there to make a quick profit,’ Kim says. ‘This is not fast fashion.’