The fashionista who got her start by nightclubbing

Meet Sarah Kate Watson-Baik. This Filipina Californian-born fashionista got her start in the Korean fashion scene by making connections, and artistic impressions, during her nightclubbing days when she first arrived in the country. Now based in Seoul, she makes a living from styling fashion shoots for magazines and videos, and works with some of Korea’s top designers, television personalities, and music industry heartthrobs. She’s also become a social media celebrity in her own right with her blog Urbanwit and its accompanying YouTube channel.

A Day in the Life of Sarah Kate Watson-Baik

Tell us about your typical day?

I’m a freelance style director and concept designer. This means I mostly consult on, research and create fashion styling ideas for magazines and videos. I also lecture freshman fashion students on cultural fashion throughout the 20th century. My main focus at the moment is on creating content for my newish YouTube channel. It’s based around my lifestyle living in the dynamic city of Seoul. It features my K-beauty and natural beauty secrets, my Asian fashion designer friends, and events I attend throughout Asia.

What’s it like having your own successful blog?

I love being able to share my unique perspective on the world. I love the whole lifestyle of DIY, so I couldn’t see it any other way. I also see it as a bit of a calling and mission in life – I have such creative and talented friends, and I want the world to know about them.

What’s the achievement you’re most proud of?

I just really love design and fashion so being able to share new discoveries and emerging Asian talent is my greatest passion. I’ve done so many things here in Korea, from hosting and creatively directing my own club night series, to styling K-pop artists, to working on Samsung’s Seoul Fashion Week show. I think the thing that got me the most notoriety on social media was co-hosting the TV show K-Style for three seasons with model Irene Kim, and K-pop artists Brian Joo and Min from Miss A. It aired globally on channels StarWorld Asia, Channel M, Mnet America and also on YouTube.

It’s really fun to have people recognise me on the streets of Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Hong Kong, and even Paris. Very strange but so fun and wonderful.

How did you get into your job?

In the early days of coming to Korea (from 2006), I was a big clubber and got to know lots of people working in the night club and entertainment industries. I started a small party brand that got picked up by one of the biggest clubs in Seoul at the time. I was missing the colourful underground parties that we’d have in London during my art school days, so I started dressing dancers and promoting to my audience to dress up crazy for my parties. This was not very common in Seoul in those days. Anyway, I became known for my clothes and costumes and was asked to style other artists. From there, I just worked my way into the fashion industry. Now I’m friends with lots of Korean designers. It’s like being back at art school again, I think designers have the same artistic mind.

Urban Wit

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve worked with?

This is going to sound really cheesy but I have to say my husband Jiwon Baik. Okay, okay, let me explain. He’s the CEO and co-founder of his company Urbantainer – known for very innovative architecture and spacial branding. He is best known for container architecture and night club design (Club Octagon is ranked #6 in DJ Mag’s Best 100 Clubs list). We always discuss design ideas and philosophy and have shared many ideas and talks about projects from their inception. A lot of my London design education has been fed to him and he considers me his personal concept designer ha!

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few …

I collect vintage cocktail hats, dresses and coats from as far back as the 1930s. I also collect items made by emerging Asian designers of course.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

  • Buy more top quality vintage when you find it in the charity shops AND stay away from fast fashion.
  • Find your passion, focus, and work HARD.
  • Keep up with your connections.

Urban Wit

Your top five secret tips for pulling off a great look?

1. Don’t worry about trends … know your fashion history instead.

2. Play with silhouette and proportion.

3. Don’t be afraid of colour.

4. Mix high, low, new and old.

5. Get a sense of humour.

Your advice for getting into your industry or succeeding in the world of blogging?

Research, research, research. Work really hard and be nice. It’s a lot to do with who you know, but it really comes down to just doing it.

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home?

Seoul, South Korea

What do you love most about it?

The dynamic speed of trends. There is always something new and fun to discover.

Your favourite place for coffee?

Peer Coffee, in Hannam-dong. One place in Seoul I’ve found that serves almond milk lattes. We’re a little behind on milk alternatives here, but if you want to try something silly go across the street and have a strawberry latte topped with candy floss from Banana Tree.

Where do you get the best dinner in Seoul?

Balwoo Gongyang for awesome traditional Buddhist temple food. It’s insane how gourmet it is.

Hot spot for great beauty buys?

Myeong Dong streets are a labyrinth and cacophony of every beauty brand in Korea. Overwhelming but fun, and a theme park for shopping and street food.

Where to bag some stunning fashion pieces?

Research Korean young designers and find their small shops on the side streets of Garosu-gil and Hannam-dong.

Who’s your #khoollectcrush?

Iris Apfel. She has a lifetime of travel and fashion hunting experience along with a insane collection of global and designer pieces. I have travelled a lot and my closet is a room… so by my 90s I dream to compare. Plus her attitude and philosophy on style is spot on!

 

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Read Sarah Kate’s blog Urbanwit. You can also find out about her favourite Korean fashion designers and K-beauty products.

Find Urbanwit on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up to her YouTube channel.