You Can’t Build Your Dream Closet Without the Basics!

by Vivienne Tam

It’s always fun to buy statement pieces every once in a while, but the real testimony to a good wardrobe are the everyday essentials. Without a clean canvas, you can’t layer your colours and accessories - that’s just the facts! Since we’ve all seen enough of Uniqlo and H&M, let’s explore these lesser known Korean brands that have nailed wardrobe essentials, each with their unique personal flair. Not willing to splurge yet? Don’t worry, we’ve got you with affordable options too.

BlackUp Korea 
💸 PRICE: $$ 💸

Instagram | @blackup_kr

For the ‘cool girl’, BlackUp offers a range of everyday basics, always with a little extra zing in their silhouettes, making their pieces just that bit more stylish. Whether it’s extra length in jeans for stacking over sneakers, like their Lipo Denim Pants, or a slouchier shoulder drop like their Mohar T-shirt, BlackUp makes wardrobe basics look hip and edgy. For your convenience, their website has a ‘B-Basic’ shortcut which is updated with their newest ‘basic’ clothing releases.

Matisse the Curator 
💸  PRICE: $$  💸

Instagram | @matissethecurator

Like BlackUp, Matisse the Curator has their own spin on wardrobe essentials, which I would place between casual and preppy. Compared to other brands, they offer their basics in a wider range of colours. Matisse also has a large selection of basic outerwear pieces, from long parkas to workwear style jackets, rather than just cardigans or sweaters like most others. Though they have an ‘Essential’ section, the wider site has many minimalistic options that would make good wardrobe basics too!

YouthLab Korea
💸 PRICE: $$$ 💸

Instagram | @youth_lab_kr

A wardrobe essential is exactly that, an essential. So it makes sense to invest in the perfect piece right? If this is your mindset, let me introduce you to YouthLab. Although pricier, their items clearly have the high-quality craftsmanship of designer goods. YouthLab basics are a little more elevated - there’s an extra seam in their Structured Flared Jeans, and some unique pleat placement in their Pleats Midi Skirt. These add an extra touch to the basics we’ve seen time and time again. If sophisticated and artsy, off-duty CEO is the vibe you’re going for, YouthLab might be for you.

TopTen & SPAO
💸 PRICE: $-$$ 💸


If you want something quick and easy, I don’t blame you. TopTen and SPAO are larger South Korean retailers, comparable to H&M or Uniqlo - you can’t go wrong with their real basic basics. However, both have some more interesting options like TopTen’s parachute pants, or this cargo skirt from SPAO, which we might not be able to find locally. With a wide selection of everyday wear, these are real tried and true essentials you can build your wardrobe with. 

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