Thursday, September 25, 2008
Seoul is one of the best places in the world for a fashionista. I remember worrying about the shopping situation before I left, thinking Seoul would probably not have too much to offer fashion-wise. I was so wrong. I think Seoul is probably one of the most fashionable cities in the world, alongside its close neighbor Tokyo. What you see on the runway is quickly replicated somewhere in China and usually finds its way to Dongdaemun market in less than a few weeks. Seoul is a mecca of trends (and fads), but Korean girls also worship the upscale designers. There must be about ten or twelve Chanel stores scattered around Seoul alone, and the same goes for all the other high-end designers: Gucci, Prada, Celine, Chloe, Hermes. Stuff that is practically impossible to find in Montreal, or if you're lucky enough you might get a glimpse of it in a corner at Holt Renfrew. And yes, Koreans buy the designer clothes and handbags, and not only the fake ones. I have no idea how they're able to afford it, but I keep seeing girls my age sporting the latest Louboutins strutting around Apkujeong (the upscale neighborhood). There is also a vast array of cheap, trendy items: just take a stroll at Dongdaemun market, which is the scariest mall in the world (in my opinion). Imagine 5 buildings in a row, about 15 stories each, all carrying clothes, clothes, clothes... and shoes, and accessories. I've been once or twice, but I don't consider myself advanced enough to go through all of it, it's overwhelming. And... it's open 24 hours... for the girl who feels like buying pair of heels at 4am. Accessories are also worth mentioning: jewelry, belts, bags, tights, socks, hairbands... everything is there, and it's insanely cheap.
Girls absolutely love to dress up here, and they look so chic: high heels on a daily basis, pencil skirts, designer handbags, and blouses adorned with bows and victorian lace. No so much my style, but I admire them (I could never walk in high heels around the Seoul subway system, I'd collapse after one transfer). They make so much effort into looking elegant at all times, and put extra attention to detail. I'm more of a jeans and ballerina flats girl, but I love seeing what they come up with. They're not afraid to try all the new trends either, such as high socks, colored tights, and high-waisted shorts and pants. In a way I'm loving it, I feel like I can try different things here, stuff I wouldn't wear back home (such as colored tights). My only criticism is that all the girls seem to adopt a similar style, no one really stands out (as opposed to Tokyo, where girls are way more casual and wear just anything). Guys also tend to look rather slick, with dark jeans, polos and fitted shirts, all proudly sporting "manbags" and loafers.
Seoul pleasantly surprised me for its fashion sense and availability of brands. After 7 months and a lot of window-shopping and brand-locating, I can safely say that it's possible to find EVERYTHING in Seoul.... from Forever 21 to Uniqlo to Marc Jacobs to Rebecca Taylor to Zara to Anna Sui to Balenciaga to no-name brands... anything you can come up with, you can probably find. And even with (surprisingly) no H&M, the brand has still found its way inside smaller boutiques (that sell it for twice as much as back home). I usually pass like 30 boutiques on the 10-min walk to the subway. I can also proudly say that I haven't gone crazy with the shopping, I think I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the choices! Never thought I'd say that.
Oh, and also, I'm grateful for my size 7 feet (practically impossible to find any shoes bigger than a 7 in Asia)!