This article was first published on 8 September 2020.
Have you ever tried to dress like your favourite Asian drama characters? Whether you answer yes or no, it's hard to deny that outfits in most of these shows are cop-worthy. Add to that the fact that, compared to Western fashion, looks in Asian dramas hit a little bit closer to home. That said, here's a lineup of Asian dramas about fashion that can serve as your next style peg.
1. Survival Wedding (2018)
After quitting her job in publishing because of her marriage plans, 29-year-old Sayaka Kuroki’s (Haru) life suddenly turns around when she finds out that her fiancé is cheating on her. Jobless, loveless, and also thrown into the dilemma of being a single woman nearing her 30s, she meets eccentric and fashion-savvy editor Hiroto Usami (Yusuke Iseya) who agrees to hire her in his company — only if (1) she takes on the challenge of finding a man who will marry her within six months and (2) she documents the entire process in her column named after the drama’s title.
At first glance, this drama seems rather misogynistic with its treatment of Sayaka’s character, given that her age is often the main topic of contention. However, the plot actually instils a heavy message on self-worth through fashion-related metaphors often referenced by Hiroto’s character.
Why you’ll like it: From comparing oneself to a pair of designer shoes to understanding the power of wearing the right outfit to evoke confidence, this drama will teach you not just fast facts about the biggest brands in fashion today but also the heartwarming message that it’s never too late to discover and embrace your own value. P.S. Speaking of fast facts, Yusuke Iseya, the actor playing Hiroto in this J-drama, is also the half-brother of late Japanese fashion icon Kansai Yamamoto.
2. Crash Landing On You (2020)
Asian drama fans have already heard a lot about this K-drama starring Hyun Bin as the dashing Captain Ri and Seo Ye-Jin as lady boss Yoon Se-ri. But beyond the star-crossed lovers narrative of CLOY, the fashion treatment in this K-drama is also not one to be overlooked.
For starters, its first episode shows just how much influence personalities play a role in the bankability of a certain fashion item. Next, it also briefly shows us the lengths clothing brands go through to usually quality-test their products. Sure, being swept away to North Korea is far-fetched, but it doesn’t discount the idea that Se-ri’s meticulousness reflects the amount of effort the industry usually goes through to deliver us quality fashion goods.
Why you’ll like it: K-drama female leads often have a very standard look throughout a series. But because of the unique nature of CLOY’s plot, we see Yoon Se-ri in different looks — from sleek to comfy chic.
3. Atelier (2015)
If you loved The Devil Wears Prada, check out this series immediately. Starring Mirei Kiritani as Mayuko Tokida and Mao Daichi as Mayumi Nanjo, this J-drama about an industry newbie and a veteran designer dives deep into the world of luxury custom lingerie. Tensions rise when Mayuko couldn’t understand the logic behind people investing in high-priced undergarments, leading her to question if she’s in the right career path after all.
Why you’ll like it: Despite being an underrated series on Netflix, Atelier (alternately titled Underwear) is actually an interesting series that discusses a person’s more — for a lack of a better term — 'intimate' relationship with fashion. It helps the viewer look at lingerie in a new light and how the right kind of support underneath goes beyond practicality.
4. Count Your Lucky Stars (2020)
Meteor Garden fan or not, this drama starring Jerry Yan as renowned fashion mogul Lu Xing Cheng and Shen Yue as unknown fashion designer Tong Xiao You is another Asian drama that’s worth adding to your watchlist. Somehow reminiscent of the American movie Just My Luck starring Chris Pine and Lindsay Lohan, the drama’s plot show the MG alums playing two contrasting characters that get their luck switched. This results in a series of topsy-turvy encounters and, as expected, a love affair to boot.
Why you’ll like it: Headlining cast aside, the story gives us a look into the powerplay behind the scenes in the fashion industry. Of course, this C-drama took a lot of creative license for entertainment value, but it doesn’t negate the fact that the industry is challenging, especially for budding talents. Shen Yue's numbers on this drama are all so cop-worthy for casual days out, which is an interesting change when compared to K-drama's more elevated choices.
5. Fai Lang Fai (2015)
If you love stories that really put the 'drama' in Asian drama, then do not miss out on this Thai lakorn. Matt Peerani Kongthai and Boy Pakorn Chatborirak's looks on this revenge-centred series are definitely to watch out for. Plus, Peerani’s character Leela is a known fashion designer and businesswoman. So from her signature sleek low ponytail to her gorgeous earpieces down to her shoe choices, this character's looks will have your eyes glued to the tube.
Why you’ll like it: Power-dressing inspiration? You got it. What makes it even better is that Leela's character and her wardrobe are perfectly in-sync. Top tip from Leela: the right attitude makes or breaks a stylish ensemble.
Looking for more reels to add to your queue? Here's what's coming to Netflix this month.
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