Old Korea and its tradition regarding unique headwear. 

27 MARCH 2020

Hats stand out at British royal weddings.
More specifically, "millinery."
Unlike casual headwear, millinery utilizes elaborate details such as ribbons, feathers, and laces.
To abide by the strict dress codes required at royal functions, it is said that invitees start preparing months out for their attire and millinery

Coming from a fine arts background, Kyueun Park became fascinated by the concept of placing an object on top of a head and is now a hat designer.
After launching Q Millinery 5 years ago, she has done various exhibitions and designer collaboration to expand her business verticals.

Now, we re-design tradition.
And repurpose.
Park studied fine arts in Korea and received her MFA in the UK. While studying abroad, she became more fond of installation and sculpture art over painting, and she also began expanding her interest into making garments and hats. Becoming more immersed in the latter, she took on various classes and internships related to hatmaking. Upon returning to Korea, she started Q Millinery and is currently working as a hat designer.
Admittedly, Park was not very interested in traditional Korean wear before her time abroad. After returning to Korea, she began to explore her motherland's identity and developed a new perspective, all of which she had neglected, she realized, due to her proximity to it. Park's main inspiration is Korean traditional headwear such as the "Gat" and/or "Jungjakwan." Both utilize unique materials and proportions, and they embody a certain balance that's rarely seen in the West.
The jewel of traditional Korean aesthetics is in the disposition of straight and curved lines through use of silhouettes. For instance, the Gat is a traditional headpiece sporting a strong linear shape. In contrast, Hanbok, a traditional Korean costume that's accessorized with a Gat, features a soft, organic form. This juxtaposition is what creates distinct Korean beauty. Park reinterprets traditional headwear and designs with this idea at the core.

When foreigners arrived in the late 19th century, Korea was a country with a distinct tradition of people always outfitted with a hat, and that heritage is still a source of curiosity for those looking in. The impressive and sometimes peculiar headwear has recently received more spotlight through popular Netflix serieses like Kingdom, leaving people to wonder: "why and what are they always wearing on their heads?"

Gatheadpiece adult men wore in the Joseon Dynasty.
There are many types of Gat. The most common type is called "Hkrip," a part of an aristocrat's everyday attire. As it was worn everyday, its shape was susceptible to trends. The depth of the hat as well as brim size, or straps that fell below the chest and decorated with amber, jade, crystal, and other gems, were used to represent power and/or wealth. "Backrip" sports the same shape as a Hkrip but is constructed of burlap Backrips were worn at funerals, i.e. during national mourning.
Jungjakwan Worn in the middle Joseon period by educators and aristocrats at home.

Aristocrats always wore a Gat in public, which proved to be a very uncomfortable societal norm. As such, Jungjakwan was introduced to be worn at home. It has a long, square inner space called Newkan, and on the outside sports a long, mountain-shaped pillar, which can be layered as desired (they were named 2-layered or 3-layered Jungjakwan accordingly). Generally speaking, the more layers one’s Jungjawkan had, the higher his social class was. Dongpakwan is another hat that had a similar shape and function.

Jokdoori, Hwakwan Headpiece for noble ladies
Jokdoori, Hwakwan Headpiece for noble ladies

Women of nobility for a long time wore an extreme and luxurious hairstyle known as “Gache,” which cost a fortune to upkeep. As a result, a Jokdoori or Hwakawn—traditional Korean headpieces—slowly replaced the look and became the more commonly used method of hair decoration. Jokdoori used precious metals or stones such as gold and jade, which in turn displayed one’s husband’s social standing. 

SatGat Headpiece shaped like an umbrella.

Used to protect a person against rain and sunlight, Scholars, women of nobility, monks, and others wore SatGats when traveling outside. As previously mentioned, Hats in the Joseon Dynasty helped exhibit one’s social class, but the SatGat is unique in that it was a practical accessory worn by all. 

Used to protect against rain and sunlight. Used by scholars, noble ladies, monks, and more for traveling outside. Hats in the Joseon Dynasty usually pointed to one's social class, but SatGat is unique in that it was a practical piece utilized by all.

Photography : Gunsang Park
Video : Kyungtae Hwang
Photography Assistant : Haewon Lee
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