When I first came across a picture of a plain white shirt with the phrase “psycho but cool” during one of my lazy Instagram scrolls, I had to find out where it was from. That was the first time I was introduced to Ader Error, a quirky South Korean brand founded in 2014 by a group of four anonymous founders. What was interesting was that as opposed to all of them being from a background of fashion or business, their expertise ranged from architecture to finance. However, despite not having heard of or seen the brand anywhere around me I was quite surprised to see their firm international following on Instagram. Their pastel Tumblr-like aesthetic and quirky communication is the main reason why they created such a buzz overseas despite only recently starting to distribute outside of Korea, which is proven through their significant online international following.
Being a part of a generation that has been raised through a period of dramatic technological evolution, it's no surprise that social media is an integral part of our lives. It has not only accelerated globalization but has created a new form of communication as a whole. Instead of sending handwritten letters or emails to friends, we tag them in memes on Instagram or send them a Snapchat. We are able to connect with people on the other side of the world in real time, in a shared language that has been born through the internet. In fact social media has also helped increase our awareness of what is happening around the world, outside of our little bubble. Thus it allows us to be exposed to things we would have not had access to previously. I mean all we need to do is take a look at the growth of the Hallyu Wave to understand the magnitude of the role social media plays.
Even the way in which we approach fashion these days is completely different. In the past, buying or even discovering anything new was like going on a mission. You had to leave the comfort of your home and deal with more social interaction than you were prepared for. However, now, we are able to browse through and shop from a variety of brands through just a swipe and click of our phones or computers. My explore field is where I came across most of my finds, including Ader. Which is why, in that sense, that is one advantage the brand has over other competitors in the field: their communication is a priority and particularly online.
What I love about the brand especially is how they have placed youth culture at the center of every form of marketing and communication they carry out. Right from their aesthetic to the phrases (such as “don’t grow up”) on their garments, they have captured the essence of a millenial individual. Playing with a wide range of colors and images, while at the same time keeping the shapes basic, each garment has its own unique vibe. This is also what the brand is trying to communicate; they are trying to appeal to an individualist who uses fashion as a form of expression. Through their designs they are also expressing the idea of the perfection within imperfection, something that is ingrained in the brand’s identity. It is almost as if they’re saying that setting yourself aside from the conventional is much cooler, which is exactly the kind of rhetoric that we need today!
Up until very recently, glamour was a big thing, making yourself into something perfect. However, recently the wave has gone against that concept, with uniqueness and imperfection being celebrated instead of being airbrushed and being pushed to fit into an outdated standard of perfection. This also matches very well with the current generation which is more into being unconventional and finding who they are as opposed to going with the crowd and conforming. This is also characterized in the brand’s slogan, “but near missed things,” finding the perfection in the things that people usually miss, bringing forward a different kind of minimalism. This is why a brand like this is so appropriate for our generation, and the brand, much like the generation it is aimed at, is inherently youthful yet self-aware.
Another aspect of their communication that I absolutely love as well is their non-gender-defined clothing. While a lot of their garments are modeled by women, they are also equally purchased by men. In the times that we live in today, with the significant change in gender roles and ideals being changed with the growth of social media, we aren’t restricted to binary and closed off opinions. People are more interested in the type and style of the garment as opposed to gender specific clothing, in fact bigger, baggier shapes are more of a trend now! Although this may not seem much to people living in Western societies, in a country where gender roles are still pretty much ingrained, this is almost a radical move. And even though this may seem like a big and brave move, they come about it in such a subtle way with their styling and design that it isn’t completely out of the blue for their audience.
The Ader store is also a well-known destination to visit for the people aware of the brand, tucked away in a tiny alley in Hongdae. The store very clearly reflects the influence of the backgrounds of the various founders. From all the brand stores I have been to, I don’t think I have ever seen one as visually stimulating as the Ader Error store in Hongdae. With a variety of aspects, from rotating mirrored blinds to artworks, it’s sensory overload but in the best way possible. It’s almost as if the world of Ader comes alive, and as soon as you step in, the monotonous reality outside fades away for just that short period of time. It’s definitely a place I would recommend anyone to visit, purely because it's such a dynamic space and so reflective of our generation today. Plus, its 100% Instagram worthy.