Couple Clothing: The Relationship Glue?

Groove.FEB.Couples

This article appeared in the February 2016 issue of Groove Korea. Photos by Erika Hughes. View magazine here.

If there’s one thing that South Korea does better than anywhere else, it’s marketing love. Holidays dedicated to couples dominate the calendar — e.g., White Day (March), Rose Day (May), Kiss Day (June), and Hug Day (December) — while those who are unattached are left forced to explain their lack of a significant other. It seems that each month comes with a cutesy stamp of affection that has the potential to ruin relationships if overlooked. Yet one of the most celebrated ways to show your relationship status doesn’t have a special day; rather, it’s all about what you wear and whom you wear it with.

If you’ve been in Korea for more than 24 hours, then there’s a high chance you’ve come across couples clothing: lovebirds out for a stroll in matching sweaters, shoes, bags, hats, or – weather permitting – swimsuits. Instead of physical public displays of affection, which can draw looks of disdain from passers by, Koreans have opted to advertise their love for each other through their physical appearance — a trend that started after a 90s TV drama featured a couple wearing matching clothes.

Almost three decades later, and a recent shoe-matching display of affection from Kim Tan and Eun Sang on popular K drama Heirs, the trend is still here. With age not a limiting factor in the desire to dress alike, businesses have truly cashed in on this romance trend. Stores dedicated to selling everything from single matching items to full head-to-toe coordinated outfits are easy to find both online and off. The more adventurous couple can even opt to purchase matching underwear. But what draws a couple to do something that seems so odd to most expats? In honor of Valentine’s Day this month, Groove Korea asked six couples (so you don’t have to).

 

Name: Felicia, 25 and Will, 28

Relationship: Together for two years

Couple Clothing: Wearing matching jackets and colors

Felicia and Will2

Groove Korea: Why did you decide to get matching clothes?

Will: I thought it would be cute. Usually when you see strangers out on the street, you don’t see people match so identically. When you match someone’s clothes with yours, it shows not only a wardrobe in common, but you kind of see a common mindset I guess.

GK (to Felicia): What was your reaction?

Felicia: I was open-minded. When in Korea…

GK: Do you feel closer when you wear matching clothes?

Will: I feel more vulnerable.

Felicia: You stand out a little bit more.

Will: You set it up and think it would be cute to match, then you actually walk outside on the street and it’s like, “Yeah, people are going to be looking at us.”

GK: Is this something you would do back in the US?

Will: Hell no.

Felicia: Probably not because nobody does it there.

GK: If you were to break up what would you do with the clothes?

Felicia: Burn them.

Will: Yeah, burn them.

 

Name: Lee Seul-ki, 25 and Oh Ji-won, 23

Relationship: Together for eight months

Couple Clothing: Wearing couples boots, sweaters and scarves

Lee and Oh1

GK: Why did you decide to get matching clothing?

Oh: I bought us the shoes as a Christmas present. I thought, because he needed winter shoes, it would be good to buy us the same pair. On every anniversary, we buy a matching clothing item.

GK: Do you like wearing couples clothing?

Oh: Yes.

Lee: Yes.

GK: Why?

Oh: I like it because I brought it for us.

GK: How did you decide to wear the same clothes?

Oh: We just call each other before we meet and say, “We should wear this today.”

 

Name: Kim Soo-bin, 19 and Hwang Min-ho, 22

Relationship: Together three years

Couple Clothing: Wearing couples jackets and rings

Kim and Hwang2

GK: Is this the only piece of couples clothing you own?

Kim: Right now it’s the jumper and rings.

Hwang: We have the same bags and shirts as well. We wear them at home.

GK: How long were you together when you bought your first item of couples clothing?

Kim: 100 days

GK: Why did you decide to get couples clothing?

Hwang: We share the same identity. Whenever we see couples wearing matching shirts, we thought it looked good.

GK: When did you get matching rings?

Hwang: After two months together.

 

Name: Park Jeh-yeong, 24 and Kim Chae-yoon, 20

Relationship: Together 1 month

Couples Clothing: Wearing couples sweaters

Park and Kim1

GK: When did you get matching sweaters?

Park: We got it today at 1pm.

GK: Why did you decide to get matching clothes?

Park: We feel good when we wear the same thing.

Kim: When we go on a date, it makes for good memories. It’s something we can cherish together.

 

 

Name: Sean, 31 and Ki-hyang, 27

Relationship: Together for one year

Couple Clothing: Wearing matching jackets

Sean and Ki-hyang2

GK: Is this the only piece of matching clothes that you own?

Sean: At the moment it is.

GK: When did you get it?

Sean: Just two or three weeks ago.

GK: Why did you decide to get matching clothing?

Ki-hyang: I spotted it and thought it would be a good idea to wear the same thing. This is the first thing we have as a matching item.

GK: Do you think it’s important to wear something that is the same?

Ki-hyang: This is how we express our love, by wearing the same item.

GK: Do you like wearing the same item?

Sean: Sure. It’s about letting people know that she is mine. So, keep away!

 

Name: Hong Seung-woo, 29 and Lee Hwa-Kyeong, 24

Relationship: Together for 70 days

Couple Clothing: Wearing matching jackets

Hong and Lee1

GK: Is this the only couple’s item you have?

Lee: Yes, we bought it a month-and-a-half ago.

GK: Why did you decide to get matching clothes?

Hong: It was my idea. We were shopping at a department store and I saw this and thought it would be a good idea to get it as a matching item.

GK: How does it feel when you wear the same clothes?

Hong: It feels like we are more close to each other whenever we wear the same thing.

 

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