Streetwear Brand That Celebrates Korean Culture and Heritage
Korean American Center of Orange County had the opportunity to speak with KORELIMITED founder Matthew Kim about his company and vision for the brand. While KORELIMITED (also known as KORE, which stands for KEEPIN OUR ROOTS ETERNAL) has been in the streetwear apparel industry for four years, it has a rapidly growing following. With support from fans all over the world, as well as celebrities from Korea and Hollywood, this is what Matthew shared with us:
OCKorean: For those who might not be familiar with KORELIMITED, can you give a brief introduction of the brand?
Matthew: KORE is a streetwear brand that celebrates Korean culture and lifestyle. We produce apparel that incorporate various aspects of Korean culture – like history, language, artists, etc. – into the designs.
OCKorean: When did KORE start? And how did you come about building this brand?
Matthew: We launched KORE in the middle of 2013 to be exact and have been blessed to continuously grow every year. I began KORE because as a father I wanted to provide something for my children and their generation about their heritage and roots. Growing up, I have always been closely connected to my Korean heritage, but I see that kids from today’s generation are becoming more oblivious of their cultural background and history. So I wanted to create something that would be educational but also relevant to their taste and desire.
OCKorean: Is there a reason for teaching about Korean roots and culture through Korean fashion and streetwear, rather than other media like art or video?
Matthew: Doing art, videos, or these types of media to celebrate Korean culture would’ve been cool, but I think there is something deeper about being willing to wear Korean clothing. Somebody could watch a video on Korean culture and be a supporter. But if you’re willing to pay money and physically wear the designs about Korean culture and roots, I think it shows a different level of appreciation and proudness for the culture. My goal is to make Korean culture cool and Korean fashion unique so that everybody would be excited to wear our brand. I want the brand to be a dope brand that isn’t solely about teaching Korean history, rather incorporating those elements so that people would be willing to purchase without even knowing what the design stood for. They could gradually find out the significance of the designs by others telling them or by figuring it out by themselves.
OCKorean: You’ve received a lot of love and support from celebrities from Korea and the States. How did that come about?
Matthew: I’ve been lucky with some personal connections, but a bigger piece of their support came from their genuine appreciation for our brand designs and what they stood for.
We have had a lot of people (like Hip Hop Artist Tiger JK, Rapper SanE, Singer Jong Kook Kim, Actress Arden Cho, Guitarist Jinjoo from DNCE, the dancers from 1 Million Dance Studio, and many more) reach out to us and express that they love our clothing and what we’re doing as a brand. Each season, we’re blessed with gaining more exposure and love from more celebrities, artists, and talents.
OCKorean: From the designs that you’ve produced so far, which would you say stands out to you the most?
Matthew: Man, I love all of our designs so much and each one has a significant unique meaning. One design that we produced with 1Million Dancer Lia Kim is the Salja hat. This hat is actually one of our top selling items. I did this design because I noticed a particular brand that used the Korean flag and language in a dark way. There was one design from that brand that had ‘자살 club’ (suicide club) written blatantly on the front of the hat. The brand is probably one of the biggest streetwear brands in 2017, and they always incorporate our Korean Flag in their design and in the 자살 design as well. The fact that this negative term was written in our language and worn by so many people, including Koreans, disturbed me a lot. Korea is known to have one of the highest suicide rates, and as a Korean I felt offended that a well-known brand would advertise this word as a mere fashion trend. So to promote a positive image, I flipped the word 자살 (ja sal) and proposed the 살자 (sal ja, let’s live) design to Lia Kim. She loved the idea of positivity and livelihood, and our Salja design has been the most successful design since day 1.
OCKorean: We can see that your brand is growing very quickly but your store is only online. Any plans to open physical shops? Also, do you have any future projects or aspirations for KORE?
Matthew: Yes, we definitely have plans to open physical shops in the near future. In terms of projects, we have a lot of collaboration projects lined up with amazing artists and talents who are excited to work with us. So definitely, be on the lookout. My aspirations for KORE is to grow and expand as a brand obviously, but more importantly the mission is about Keepin Our Roots Eternal; it’s what K.O.R.E stands for. I would like everyone to eventually learn about Korean culture and see how beautiful and awesome it is. Some people buy our stuff because they like the meaning behind the design and others learn the meaning after they buy it. Either way, I’m thankful that it’s an opportunity to share my heritage with them.
OCKorean: Thanks Matthew! We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to seeing more amazing things from you!
For those interested in learning more about KORELIMITED and supporting a company dedicated to keeping Korean heritage alive, please check out their line at KORELimited.com.
For those who love Korean clothing, Korean fashion, Korean style, Korean design, Korean apparel, Korean streetwear, designers, fashion, k-fashion, kpop, k-style.Posted on: July 25, 2017