Seoul is a vast and sprawling metropolis, that much the whole world knows by now. But what not everyone takes into account is that the burgeoning fashion capital boasts the most epic of brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.
Of course, it says a lot that Western counterparts are sitting up and paying attention to South Korea’s fashion scene: Chanel tapping on G-Dragon’s magnitude, homegrown labels the likes of Hyein Seo and Juun.J building major rapport with leading international stockists Nordstrom and Ssense, or Gentle Monster being nominated as the ‘It’ eyewear label of the moment. Online, we can trace and be witnesses — or even participants — to the massive K-wave trend, but these brands’ incredible Seoul base camps are worth taking a closer look at.
“I wanted the products to look as if they were being exhibited,” said Gentle Monster founder Hankook Kim in an interview with Business of Fashion. Kim was explaining the idea behind his label’s experimental spaces. Museum or boutique? With Gentle Monster’s art-meets-retail notion, we’ll never know. But whatever the business model is meant to be, it’s working splendidly.
The transatlantic triumph of Gentle Monster sparked a shift. Young, new labels such as Ader Error and SJYP, as well as retailers like Rare Market and Queenmama, are creating their own worlds through conceptually designed spaces; helping buyers to have a palpable understanding of what the brand is all about.
Immersive experiences? Check. Intriguing product curation? Most definitely. If you ever find yourself in Seoul, below are the concept stores you need to include in your travel itinerary.
(Main and featured images: Acne Studios)