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South Korea and Japan: Childrenswear Print Inspiration

Recently I had the luck to visit South Korea and Japan. Lucky because both countries are amazing, and because with the way things are going, the area can become a no-go zone pretty quickly.

The culture, the food, the design, the fashion, all brilliant, I couldn’t possibly choose. It seems like everything they do is with love, extreme attention to detail, and with an aim to visually please consumers. In these two countries, I did not mind waiting a bit longer for my purchases to be wrapped in the most exquisite way. Definitely beats queuing for hours for your t-shirt to be rolled in a ball and shoved in a bag! I did not mind waiting a bit longer to be served beautiful food, always with a smile. Beats the “you are lucky to be served by me” attitude you get in many London restaurants.

Smiling and happiness is widespread, especially in South Korea. For a cynic westerner such as I, it initially comes across as something very odd. Surely, they cannot be this happy. Surely, it is the product of social oppression, right? Well, if you let go and give in, just like I did on day 3, it can be contagious. On day 4 different questions were forming in my mind: what is wrong with us in the West, or what is it that makes us so grumpy?

You know what else is everywhere in these two countries? Cute things! I must admit the latter took more than 3 days to get used to or accept. But, funnily enough, even cute things managed to find their way into my heart. For people who know me, this will sound bizarre. They will vouch that there is no way in hell that I would find cats with big eyes, and dogs with neckties acceptable. I still don’t. However, being surrounded by all this cuteness, I would frequently roll my eyes and give numerous judgmental sighs, which made me question my motives for such reaction. Are we too obsessed with being cool in the West? Are we too scared of being branded naff?

Cuteness has its own temple in both countries. Stationary shops are many and massive. They are filled with papers, stickers, envelopes, cards, erasers, pencil bags etc. All covered in cute design; sometimes brilliant, sometimes so wrong it feels right! Tell me that you don’t need a mouse pad with a print of a cat wrapped in sushi right now…

Below there are a few print ideas that caught my eye in stationary maze. Mainly they are prints that can inspire childrenswear and maybe teen-wear. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of them printed on hot midi dresses or oversized men’s t-shirts. Embrace the “naff”…

Petite Nicolas-esque

Did you thing that licensing is only for kids and bedsheets covered in Frozen references? Well think again. I know this post is for childrenswear print inspiration but imagine how cool a midi dress with baseball details and a blown-up petite Nicolas graphic will look!

 

Scribbled man

This is my gift to all us geeks out there!

 

Animal Kingdom

Because animals will always be part of a company’s print arsenal, check these all-over print directions for both childrenswear and young fashion. I kinda love the randomness of the text “Bouffants and Broken Hearts”! What does it mean? Coiffure could influence your relationships? Anyone, any ideas?

 

Humanising

In Japan and Korea there has been a long tradition of humanising animals and objects. Putting cute eyes on mountains and dressing bears in high-heels might not be everyone’s cup of tea but trust me, after a while this cuteness is contagious. Give up your cynicism and join the cuteness! Too much to ask? Then concentrate this purely on childrenswear.

 

Everyday heroes

Whether it refers to the female divers of South Korea’s Jeju island (called Haenyeo)- check them out they are incredible- or simply a sheep hugging rainbow haired guy, or people camping, there is something special about depicting everyday action. I admit, not many people hug sheep but I am sure there are a few out there that do…

 

Graphic text

It’s been going on for a while, I know. You have seen the slogans on t-shirts and political messages on the catwalks. But when a university (in South Korea’s Busan) chooses a hipster aesthetic and brands its building with the message “Education is National Security” one stops and pays attention. Can we please get a bit more political with our slogans too? Or if you are currently experiencing politics-fatigue: how about packaging our toothpaste into tubes that are not white, or admit that life is beautiful when drinking a cup of coffee. I told you this happiness is contagious!

 

Heavy stitching

There is something comforting about this “hand-made”, old-fashioned technique. Putting aside childrenswear for a second; deep inside I would love to see a distressed denim jacket covered in oversized heavily stitched rabbits. You think this is perverse, wait for it…

 

A touch of the perverse

…Bam! A cat in a “Kill Bill” ensemble! A dominatrix red riding hood riding a drooling wolf…Children will not understand but you will secretly giggle away.

 

Landscape graphics

By far my favourite group. Maybe because it is the most grown-up direction, or because there is nothing cute about it? Or maybe because I am back in London and back to my old ways? Love the marbled effect mixed in with the graphic nature of those fonts. These nature photos with the simplicity of the message also do it for me. Use on childrenswear; enough with the dinosaurs and the princesses’ stuff already…

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