Bench parkas and Korean students: Fashion trend or status symbol?
SEOUL — Bench parkas, widely known in South Korea as “long padded coats,” have become must-have winter fashion items in recent years.
The parka trend transcends age boundaries but is especially strong among middle and high school students. As the long coats — which reach the wearer’s ankles in some cases — become increasingly popular among students, more parents are complaining about the cost burden: anywhere from 200,000 won ($178) to 1,000,000 won, depending on the brand. The wide price range means that brand-name parkas are a status symbol for young people.
According to local news reports, there is a social hierarchy among Korean students based on how expensive their parkas are, and it is now more common to find students with the coats than without. Many parents feel obligated to buy the more expensive higher-end coats so their children will fit in.
This is not the first time a fashion trend has led to peer pressure among students. In the 1990s, duffel coats — also known as “tteokbokki” coats because of the shape of the buttons — were indicators of wealth. Similarly, in the 2010s, children with jackets from sportswear brand The North Face were considered better off than those without.