The best Hannam-dong shops
Carhartt, MSGM, Band of Outsiders, and Liful—if these brands perk up your ears, take note: BEAKER is a concept store run by Cheil Industries, offering brands from style hotspots like New York, Paris, London, and, these days, Seoul. On one side of the store, there is a café, bookstore, and stationary shop. A heads up for those of you on the hunt for that special something: Recently, BEAKER has started introducing products created through collaboration with Korean fashion brands that can only be found at this store.
Mo Jain Song is a hidden gem at the end of an Itaewon alley. Parsons-trained designer Jain Song launched her first collection in 2004 with the philosophy of “city meets nature.” Her modern designs do not use leather or fur, focusing instead on the pursuit of “perfect tailoring.” The first floor houses her collection, while the second floor features a café and a select shop of small delights curated from around the world. They range from the fanciful (tiny metal sea creature magnets) to the eminently practical (7.5” Gingher pinking shears), with a large selection of high-quality gardening tools.
Platform Place has stores in Dosan Park, Hannam-dong, Hongdae, Myeong-dong, and COEX of Seoul, but what sets this shop apart from other chains is that each store carries a different selection of brands. If you’re into modern and simple home/living products, head to the Hannam store. If you like foreign design books, visit Hongdae. And if you are more of a high quality fashion person, go to the Dosan shop. Rather than luxury brands that intimidate even if you're just trying them on, these stores offer more casual, young brands. It's a premium brand concept store with its doors wide open to young and design-conscious shoppers.
MMMG started as a stationery brand known for their signature look: clean, minimal products that fall right between cute and strange without shouting about it. Trends may come and go, but the MMMG collection has stayed true to its identity. Apart from its in-house brand, this multi-story multi-brand shop carries Japanese furniture brand Karimoku60, Swiss fashion brand Freitag, a MMMG collaboration with Japanese lifestyle shop D&Department, and Post Poetics, known for its imported books collection. That’s a lot of variety, but what all these brands share is the same philosophy of making beautiful, timeless products to enhance everyday life.
A.native is a multi-brand shop focused on camping and outdoor lifestyles, but there is plenty enough to see for nature lovers and city dwellers alike. On the first floor is a cozy café reminiscent of a wooden cabin, and the second floor houses merchandise tailored to fit the needs of serious (but also stylish) hikers and adventurers. Last but not least is the rooftop area, designed to let you host your own barbeque parties with all the needed tongs and tools for rent. If you are desperate to get away from the office cubicle and the city hubbub but can’t leave Seoul,
These days, Jaimblanc is the hottest issue among stylists when it comes to serious debates on living products. Their two-story building exudes a warm yet sophisticated vibe, and the craftsmanship of their product line never fails to impress. Jaimblanc has stylish solutions for all interiors in need of refreshing, whether it’s dressing up an upcoming baby's room, or transforming a dull studio apartment with a splash of color.
Taking inspiration from a 2008 Contemporary European Design & Craft exhibition, Hpix has brought a treasure trove of lesser-known brands to the Korean design market over the past few years. The shop’s favorite is the hand-knitted doll collection by Scottish designer Donna Wilson, but leading brands include Danish interior and lifestyle brands Lucky Boy Sunday and OYOY. Located in Hannam-dong, Hpix’s vibrant collection is intelligently arranged by category, so the shopping experience is not only aesthetically pleasing, it’s easy to navigate.
Perpendicular to the main Itaewon road is a small alley full of boutiques dedicated to independent fashion of all stripes and sizes. At the very end of this alley sits E comma E, which stands out for its simplicity—inside, it’s all bare white walls, simple white racks of clothing, clean lines and solid colors. Designer E Eun Hee, who studied fashion locally, worked for IMseonoc before branching out on her own, developing her line based on Asian lines and forms and durable, lasting fabrics.
While walking down this boutique-filled alley, you may notice a storefront covered in flaking white paint, with a basketball hoop hung over the doorway. There is no sign. Inside, you are met by racks of men’s clothing as well as Star Wars action figures, Bruce Lee and Nirvana posters and an old video arcade machine. It’s like walking into a perfectly-preserved teenage boy’s room from 1995—except that the clothes are for sale, because this is Magasin, a menswear shop specializing in American and Japanese-style streetwear.
If you love wearing the latest designs of each season but don't want to shell out designer prices, this is the store for you. A-land operates the largest fleet of concept store branches in Korea. It has 16 shops in major areas of Seoul like Gangnam and Myeong-dong and also in Hong Kong. Each store varies slightly, but they all introduce the work of new designers, with a special focus on young Korean designers. Their Myeongdong store was the first to open in 2005 and carries new designer brands, imported brands like A.P.C., vintage clothing, and accessories.