On a recent trip to South Korea, I fell madly in love with so many parts of this amazing country; the street food, the city vibes at night, the juxtaposition of east meets west and – somewhat unexpectedly – the shopping!
I hadn’t heard much about the shopping prior to my trip (with the exception of beauty products of course!), but the people of Seoul in particular rocked some of the coolest street style I’ve ever seen – and that’s including my personal style capital, Tokyo. And when I ventured into the shops, I soon realised why. Unlike other places I’ve visited over the years, the shopping in Seoul is less about your big, designer brands (although don’t get me wrong they do that incredibly well too, in fact Lotte World Mall was one of the most opulent shopping centres I’d ever seen) and more about boutique designers that aren’t afraid to experiment with patterns, shapes and texture. To say I was impressed is an understatement. So here’s a roundup of a few of my favourite shopping hotspots off the beaten track, along with the pieces I picked up along the way.
Small boutiques in Hongdae
Home to Hongik University, the Hongdae region in Seoul is unsurprisingly known for its youth culture. Filled with cafes and clubs, the area is just buzzing – especially at night. But one of the things I loved most about it, was the shopping! Small boutiques line the streets and house an eclectic mix of east-meets-west fashion by up-and-coming designers. Think all the latest trends, but with a twist. It was in these stores that I bought my already well-worn Vogue tee and this longline bomber jacket featuring mesh cut outs.
Dongdaemon wholesale shopping district
A unique aspect of the shopping in Seoul is the wholesale malls, especially in the Dongdaemon district. These malls sell all kinds of goods – but mostly clothes – at much cheaper prices, as they usually come straight from the manufacturer. While these malls can be hit and miss as some stores will only sell in bulk, it’s worth a look if you have time as some owners will be happy to sell one piece only to individual customers, like these beautiful crinkle-pleated pants I managed to pick up.
It might not be easy spotting a great find at the Namdaemun market in Seoul due to the sheer size – it’s Korea’s oldest and biggest market and is sprawled across several city blocks – but the work will be worth it. From food to fake fur and everything in between, these markets have everything. I spotted these gorgeous textured pants in among the racks of a small store and knew I had to have them.
A small word of warning though: the one negative about the shopping in Seoul is that you can’t try anything on! For some reason there’s no change rooms ANYWHERE (even in some of the local malls) and most of the clothing there is one size so you really have to take a risk and hope for the best. Luckily though, considering the relatively good prices, the risk is worth taking and normally pays off!