Post #5 – Have you ever obsessed over your next airport fashion outfit – what to wear next time you have to catch a flight?  I have for sure.  Airports are the places where you navigate from one dimension into another.  A place where you take off, literally, and leave Planet Earth so to speak.  We obsess about looks and comfort, and about what we can easier take off and put back on after passing through the metal detectors.  Jewelry, shoes, bags, accessories…

Incheon Airport, Seoul, South Korea
Incheon Airport, Seoul, South Korea, one of the world’s most modern airports

Those who travel a lot most probably have it down to perfection and slide through the procedures with ease.  Novices in matters of air travel might take longer to unlace their knee-high boots, unpack the laptop, tablet, phone, and empty their pockets of keys and coins.  All this is too familiar.

We also want to look good when traveling.  Maybe a charming single will take the seat next to us, which never happens, by-the-way.  Just kidding, it does.  So, comfy but not sloppy; elegant maybe, but not over the top; fashionable yes, but country-specific and polite.  I surely think about these things.  And about the weather.  Since I live in the subtropics, I love sandals, so the outfit is compromised when traveling to places with a North-Pole climate.  Plus, the handbag has to be perfect and easy to carry or roll.  It has to fit a laptop, several cameras, MP3, writing stuff, necessities, and documents.  Plus my Korean flying-to-the-moon electric toothbrush I don’t leave home without.

Airport Fashion is something entirely different in Korea though.  It refers to the looks Korean idols sport when traveling to gigs.  K-pop acts hold a myriad of events ‘overseas’ in Asia, especially in Japan, such as concerts, reality TV shows, fan signing, fashion photo shoots, music video filming, commercial shoots, etc.  They also fly all over the world to concerts, fashion shows, gala events, festivals, and, and.  Since they all live in Seoul where the industry happens, they have to board in one of the two airports, Incheon or Gimpo.  With the high number of artists in the widely successful Korean entertainment industry, the odds are that at any given day some of these celebrities are in or out of the country.

K-Por B1A4 Stage Outfit
K-Por B1A4 Stage Outfit
K-pop Group VIXX Stage Outfit
K-pop Group VIXX Stage Outfit

You most probably will only know a small fraction of them, but their groupies know them and know every step they take.  Airports are places where they can easier approach them with gifts.  There are rules of conduct for this interaction, and Koreans are super respectful and disciplined.  You can spot them though when the fans start running and calling out their idol’s name.  You can also hear the incessant shutters of cameras and see the flicker of flashes.  As a result, the idol in question is showered with bags and bags of presents.

I have to confess that I never figured out what do they do with all of the stuff they get.  Do they actually take it on the plane?  This would not be possible in the US where one is not supposed to bring on board items packed by someone else.  Looks like in Korea this is not an issue.  They even get gifts just as they pass through security.  Go figure…

K-pop groups Block B and T-ara stage costumes
K-pop groups Block B and T-ara stage costumes

Going back to the fashion issue.  Airport Fashion in Korea is what the idols wear when going to the airport.  There it is where they use the garments they get from sponsoring fashion brands, well styled by their personal stylists.  There it is where they also wear items they get from their fans and fan clubs, in a PR move that qualifies as ‘fan service’.  There it is where some chose to express their own personal taste, since on stage they have to dress as directed.  There it is also where idols can dress down and show their true personality.

One way or the other, what is certain is that each airport visit will be heavily covered by the media, and obsessively posted on social networks by their fans.  Fan club members live for these bits and pieces of news which get them closer to their idols, making them more real and more accessible.

Informal modeling of street fashion in Seoul, South Korea

B1A4 –

T-ara –

Block B –


This does not mean that you should not worry about what you wear when traveling through Incheon or Gimpo.  After all, Incheon is one of the most famous airports in the world for its stunning architecture, and for most probably having been in more movies, covered by more media, appeared in more TV shows and soap operas than any other airport in the world. I can’t quite think of any non-historic Korean drama I’ve seen that does not include a segment happening at Incheon. So, clean up, dress up, airport fashion is a must.  You never know who you will bump into next!



“A long and sinuous Silk Road unites all our cultures, a road full of colors, hardships, and hopes. If given the chance to travel this road over and over again, overlapping images would melt into a warm human fabric, full of labor, sweat and dreams. This fabric inspires my work. Its resilience is my hope for a common road into a harmonious future.” Ellie Perla

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