As much as a shopping paradise as Seoul is, most clothing shops are independently owned boutiques. Larger department stores and shopping centres carry brand name clothes from both Korea and abroad. The following are a few of the clothing stores you will find around Seoul. They carry both men and women’s clothing, and sometimes children’s. Otherwise, there are boutiques in every subway station, shopping centre and business area in Seoul, so if these chain stores do not suit your tastes, search out the smaller, independent boutiques that often carry more specialized items and styles. (See the Shopping Areas sections for popular places to start looking).
You can find Giordano stores in all the major shopping areas in Seoul, as well as smaller shops within shopping centres. The clothes are mostly men’s and women’s styles, but if you visit their website, they also have a junior section. Prices are a bit high for the quality – at the moment, a basic pair of leggings costs about 30,000 won in store while the exact same item on the street can be found for 10,000 won. However, they have a great selection of neutral coloured shirts and some nice jeans if you’re a size six or less.
One of the only shops where regular sized Western women and men can shop and find the right size, WHOAU carries a large selection of young, surfer-esque or hippy-esque shirts, dresses, skirts and hoodies. You can also find bags and, sometimes, shoes for sale. WHOAU’s clothes are good quality, interestingly designed and good value for their prices (which are around mid-range… and sometimes high). They also carry a great selection of stylish jackets. You can find WHOAU stores anywhere in Seoul’s main shopping/business areas, but most notably, their Gangnam Station location is particularly well stocked. Again, if you’re a size six or less you can buy jeans here.
Originally from Japan, Uniqlo carries some items that range from mediocre to inspired, but it’s always worth a look. With low prices and some interesting styles (though some go completely off-mark), this is a great place for anyone on a budget. Also a great store for buying tights, leg warmers, plain coloured hoodies and plaid flannel shirts. You can find locations in several areas of Seoul, including Gangnam Station, and can also be found in several Lotte Department Stores. Prices range from low to mid end.
This may come as a shock to some, but Koreans think being cute is the epitome of coolness and style. Enter Teeny Weeny: a clothing store with styles for men, women and children. Westerners would love to shop here if it weren’t for one small detail: each article of clothing (polo shirts, plaid skirts, hoodies… everything!) has a teddy bear on it. Koreans love this shop and wear these clothes the same way they like to wear Mickey Mouse on their tee shirts. It’s practically unheard of in the West, but in Korea it’s very stylish. In all actuality, the kids clothes are adorable. Prices are around mid-range and you can find locations in all major shopping centres and department stores in Seoul.
Since there’s only one Gap in Seoul (Myeongdong), maybe it isn’t exactly a “chain”, but it’s still worth mentioning. At the Gap you can actually find jeans that fit the average, size six and up Westerner. Completely and shockingly overpriced, Westerners still find themselves drawn to the Gap because the styles are familiar and comforting (sometimes it takes awhile to really get into Korean fashion, which is really very different from the west). You’ll find the same items in Seoul that you’d find in The States, Canada or in any other Gap location (also worth noting is the Banana Republic in Apgujeong; however, if you think the Gap prices are outrageous, Banana Republic’s are even more so).
You can find American Apparel locations all over Seoul, in the main shopping areas like Myeongdong and Gangnam Station. Well known for their affordable and stylish clothes, Westerners in Korea flock to these shops for their clothing needs. Shirts, skirts, dresses, tights, bathing suits, hoodies and much, much more can be found for both men and women (most clothes at this store are considered unisex… except, of course, the dresses). Prices range from 20,000 won for a plain tee to about 80,000 won for a dress. The average price for any given item is around 40,000 won.
Other Areas to Buy Clothes in Seoul
Honestly, the best places to buy clothes in Seoul are in the small, independently owned boutiques that you’ll find all over the city (especially in subway station areas like Gangnam and Jamsil). These shops have unique styles and are sold at much lower prices than chain clothing stores. While shopping in these boutiques takes more effort and offers more challenges for expats (often shop owners don’t have any English skills and often refuse to let expats try on their clothes before they buy because foreigners in Korea are “too fat”), you can still find some great tops, shoes and accessories in these areas. This is where the average Korean will shop for their clothes.
If you require a tailor, any expat will tell you to go to Itaewon. However, in Itaewon it’s very easy to get what you think is a great deal and end up buying a terribly made suit or a dress that falls apart a week after you buy it. Here is a list of some of the more reputable tailor shops in the Itaewon area:
Hamilton Shirts: For well done, custom-made dress shirts, head to Hamilton. Excellent service with a great selection of fabric, these shirts are a step above all others in the Itaewon area (though not the best in Seoul). An average shirt with the most luxurious fabric is usually around 50,000 won, while others range from 30,000 and up. Located a few steps away from Outback Steakhouse on Itaewon’s main drag.
Hahn’s Tailor Shop: A favourite for expats in Itaewon, Hahn’s has great service and some of the best suits in Seoul. These can run anywhere from 200,000 won to over a million, depending on fabric and style. Located near Noksapyeong Station on line number six. Hahn’s comes highly recommended.
Hwenson Lee: Located on Itaewon’s main drag, this shop is instantly recognizable by the large photo in the shop’s window of the tailor with his most famous client, Lucianno Pavoratti. His suits have the reputation of being good quality for decent prices (within the average price range in Itaewon).
Tailors in other areas
If you’re looking for something more high end than what you would find in Itaewon, it is recommended to go to one of the major hotels in Seoul such as the Grand Hyatt in Yongsan-gu or the Shilla Hotel in Jung-gu. Generally, these hotels have tailors employed to meet the needs of their guests, but one can also get a suit or dress made if you are not a guest. These tailors are quite a bit more expensive, so expect to pay between 500,000 won to over two million depending on what you want made.
In Apgujeong you can find a tailor shop called Goshe. This shop is high end with imported Italian fabrics. It is much more expensive than Itaewon – for example, a dress shirt made from the best fabrics will cost you around 120,000 won.
In Gangnam-gu you can go to Lansmere for high end tailoring. Lansmere is in Cheongnam-dong and prices are comparable to Goshe, if not a little bit higher.
In Sogong-dong (near City Hall), Segi Tailors is another upscale shop specializing in Italian suits. Visit http://www.segitailor.com for more details and to see their workmanship