With Seoul Fashion Week in full swing right now, there’s a ton of editors and photographers from all over the world bombarding the Korean capital in Tommy Ton-style garb and ready phone cameras. But the landlocked city has so much more to offer than Zaha Hadid’s Design Plaza (where many of the runways are taking place). It’s no wonder brands like Dior, Buttero and ACNE are all pushing for physical presence in Seoul.
Find below our filter of the best multi-brand stores in the city – offered here in alphabetical order – from the streetwear originators and the K-pop-inspired to posh department stores and workwear pioneers as well as a new wave of design and lifestyle hybrids.
Also see our list of the best Korean brands you should know.
10 Corso Como Seoul
The Milanese retailer’s Korean arm is just as avant-garde and stylish as the original, encompassing three stories that stock next-level clothing, books and housewares with next-level prices alongside a garden restaurant cafè.
Online magazine and e-tailer Hiphoper‘s new venture is an off-line store, which just opened last month. Two floors include a cafe and multifunctional space for events, with plenty of [email protected] figures and sneakers to choose from. Expect to find our favorite Korean labels like Leata, Brownbreath, Buried Alive and Stereo Vinyls. There’s also a 50% sale going on now for Stussy.
This multi-shop is part of Samsung Chaeil Industries, and so has the buying power to stock high-end international brands while also dipping into the more contemporary range with the likes of Wood Wood and Rag & Bone. Beaker is the site for all kinds of fun shop-in-shops, where designers and celebrities come to party from all over the world. It’s also located in the heart of Gangnam’s most posh shopping district so you can enjoy more.
Boon the Shop
Owned by Shinsegae Group, one of Korea’s largest conglomerates, Boon the Shop opened in 2000 to be a pioneer in the country’s high-end, non-commercial “fashion fashion.” Stepping inside is like going through Lady Gaga or Rihanna’s wardrobes – and they sell. According to a Business of Fashion profile, Boon the Shop’s best-selling brands are Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Saint Laurent and Givenchy. Currently, the standalone Beaker neighbor is exhibiting a Rochas archive.
ILMO Outlet & Cafe
ILMO, meaning “the foundation” or “root of clothing,” also acts as the outlet for the aforementioned 10 Corso Como Seoul. Offering up to 80% off of designer goods, the Garosu Road-situated store is first greeted by a tunnel walkway lined with plant vines. Like its higher-end 10CC counterpart, ILMO houses an outdoor seating cafe inside its Scoop Garden.
This “American heritage & classics” shop is located in an unassuming and rather gritty basement space, stocking the likes of Apolis, Brooklyn Circus, Creep, Danner, Ebbets Field, The Hill-Side, Orslow, Universal Works, Woolrich, Katin, Velour, Baldwin – it’s like being teleported to Brooklyn from Seoul.
MSK Shop probably stocks the best of Korean brands out of all the retailers in this list. Blankof, Heich Es Heich, Document, Heritage Floss, withMNW, SLWK and Text Silence sit next to Haerfest and Maison Kitsune. “MSK” is intended to be read as the owner’s initials but locals call it “Musk.”
10 Nonhyeon-ro 161-gil
If ILMO is 10 Corso Como’s younger brother, My Boon is Boon the Shop’s younger cousin. More pop-up-oriented than its predecessor, the contemporary lifestyle and design shop merchandizes Swell water bottles, boxes of LEGO and New Balance sneakers with Master&Dynamic headphones and Leica cameras. My Boon is perhaps the best place to go gift shopping for all kinds of people you may have in mind – its bakery and fruit market are just added bonuses.
Never Green Store Underground
Never Green Store has the welcome privilege of being operated by old-time friends who respectively own withNMW and Homegrown Svpply. Opened in Itaewon in 2012, NGS now has a Jam Store shop-in-shop which started this year, adding the likes of Porter, Buzz Rickson’s, Novesta and Ralph Lauren Double RL to its brand roster. There’s also a “Homegrown Coffee” cafe because who isn’t doing that nowadays? withMNW, Homegrown and Jam Store are all looking to create one capsule soon, so stay tuned.
Selvedge denim and Japanese magazines abound in Joe’s Garage, a self-titled “American casual select shop.” Champion Reverse Weave, Filson and Pendleton can be found next to Japan’s Studio D’Artisan, because let’s face it, Americana fashion can never be without a sprinkling of Japanese anything. Joe’s Garage is located in Hongdae, Seoul’s most youthful and vibrant area filled with plenty of other shops and eateries.
Kasina is part of Korea’s first generation of streetwear pioneers, now with multiple locations throughout the country and a booming online business. Kasina means “girl” in Southern Korean dialect slang, and it’s also responsible for operating Stussy’s Seoul chapter. (Image credit)
Koon with a View
Koon Korea is known as one of the first independent boutiques in Korea that started buying brands like Dior. It’s now a bit more contemporary but nevertheless important, housing labels like 11 by Boris Bidjan, AMI Paris, Christopher Shannon, Hood by Air, Kenzo, Public School, Pigalle, Moschino, Raf Simons…
Short for “millimeter milligram,” MMMG is a more of design shop where you can find books and furniture with limited quantities of clothing and accessories, namely from sustainable brand Freitag. It’s respected by locals for being eclectic and fun.
Ohkoos focuses on workwear, stocking Nigel Cabourn, The Real McCoy’s, Ficoture, Yuketen, Viberg, Tricker’s, ts(s), 8000 eyewear…you get the idea. There’re also Universal Works, Mackintosh, Our Legacy and more.
Platform Place is for those who are looking for relaxing but in-and-out shopping, with casual basics from Saint James, Reigning Champ, YMC and Norse Projects alongside copper dishware and mini succulents.
42 Apgujeong-ro 47-gil
Opened just this past August, Queenmama Market was founded by one of the most influential couples in South Korean fashion who brought many local labels to stardom. With the stern belief that nature brings happiness, Queenmama pushes for slow and “lazy” shopping, enjoyable with plants running to and from the ceiling, speakers performing ambient sound therapy, and irregularly arranged booths that emulate a bustling real-life market. The apron-wearing staff will also guide you to the top-floor Manufact cafe, an Instagram-popular site filled with natural sunlight incoming from the glass ceiling. In addition to a new private clothing line, Queenmama also has a farm-to-table restaurant in its plans.
You can see more photos of Queenmama Market over at Vogue Korea.
50 Apgujeong-ro 46-gil
This avant-garde boutique opened last year and quickly became one of the most fashionable in Korea. It’s owned and operated by Dami Kwon, sister of Jiyong Kwon – otherwise and better known as G-Dragon. The K-pop sensation originally named the store Rare, after which Ms. Dami attached “Market” to follow current retail trends. The standalone three-story building, which has been a go-to for influencers like Buro 24/7‘s Miroslava Duma, also features one of the country’s first water bars. The atmosphere is a bit intimidating, with tattooed, colorfully haired sales associates wearing white lab coats.
San Francisco Market
Vintage and heritage lovers call San Francisco Market the best store in Korea. It’s more reminiscent of London than SF though; perhaps its selection of Lardini or Engineered Garments has something to do with that.
11, Eonju-ro 170-gil
Sculp needs no explanation. It’s easily one of the most respected and one of the first ones one thinks of when discussing Korea’s menswear.
Slow Steady Club & Cafe
Slow Steady Club is operated by the founder of Blankof, but it stocks so much more than just carry goods. Find a concisely edited curation of clothing and magazines as well as a cafe.
Sopooom, meaning “prop” or “small property,” is a destination for streetwear enthusiasts and hip hop insiders. The ever-so-trendy Thrasher clothing can be bought with brands like Herschel Supply, Poler and Carhartt, as well as merchandise for Korea’s popular Illionaire Records crew.
Dongki Lee, founder of Eastlogue and director of Beslow’s in-house label, opened his own store recently, presumably to sell his own brands which now includes Unaffected. Sortie means “exit” in French and although we don’t know what’s behind Lee’s naming decision, we can tell that what’s behind Sortie’s doors are most likely worth a visit.
30-9 Apgujeong-ro, 10-gil
Space Mue is touted as one of the most avant-garde retailers, neighbors with those of equal status, Boon the Shop and Rare Market. Mue is the combination of “moo” and “e,” which respectively means “none” and “two” – or as Business of Fashion says, “there is no other.”
For more on Korea, check out the best Korean brands.