Luxury brand bags have become practically commonplace in fashion-conscious Seoul—to really stand out (and support small businesses), check out the growing scene of small, local designers with limited runs, like Leacre. The owner studied design in Milan before coming back to Seoul and launching her line of lovely leather bags with a showroom in the Gyeongnidan hills. The owner sources her leather from Italy and bases her designs on the concept of minimalist form with individuality: Most bags in her collection are composed of slim, layered pouches in a variety of colors that can be rearranged at will. In addition to bags, the Leacre showroom also features a glass case of jewelry from Thai designer SATADA, who works primarily with pearls.
Courri is a women’s wear brand that sells minimal outfits with accented details at a reasonable price. Here, you can find basic fashion items, such as perfectly tailored shirts or H-line skirts, with unique twists to them. CEO Hwang Yoo-na studied fine arts in New York and built her career working for brands like Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang, mainly dealing with their online businesses. In 2014, she returned to Seoul, and after six months of planning for a brand that sells Korean clothes to customers overseas, she launched her very own brand instead. She explained: "I went around Dongdaemun doing market research and taking some test cuts. But in the end I came to the conclusion that the quality they offered was not satisfying enough. That's how I got to thinking that maybe I should make a Korean brand that could be sold abroad as well." Thanks to her past career in online retailing, she decided to start with direct sales from the get-go and started out by selling her products online. Our favorite item? Their silk and linen skirt that falls right below your knees.
If you need “an apple a day” to energize your body, you need “a word a day” to unleash your mind. It’s with that exact concept that Paper Pack created its notebooks. Open Paper Pack’s 1 Paragraph notebook and there is just space for one quote and a short description. In a crazy, fast-paced world, the notebook reminds you to write at least one sentence a day to help you remember the things you felt that day in simple terms. They also have the Art Paper Pack project, which they are doing in collaboration with the publishing company SSE Project. This project introduces talented, unknown illustrators to the rest of the world. Indiscriminate of age or nationality, the series has released notebooks with cover art from artists from the Americas, Europe and Asia. Their artworks have also been featured in the SSE Projects magazine, SSE ZINE. The most important element Paper Pack and SSE Projects look at when picking an artist is their portfolio. So far, the project has released 42 editions. The ones by Korean artists Shin Mo-rae and Kwak Myung-ju have become so popular that they’re now collector’s items. Jot down phrases that inspire you and keep them as memories.
Modernique, a fashion and lifestyle goods brand, makes quality products primarily with metal, wood and leather. Fashion designers and industrial designers teamed up to organize this Koreabased company. At first glance, their stuff might look factory-made, but if you look closer, each item is the product of painstaking hours of craftsmanship. The signature “Margaret” bag is minimal and slick, with a classy leather body that contrasts with the ornamental metal plate. The Maison line features household products like wooden trays with metal plates attached. Utilizing a range of metals like brass, nickel and copper, Modernique’s products are accentuated by their unique colors and also benefit from how sturdy their materials are. Modernique’s Maison line was featured at MAISON&OBJET Paris 2014, the world’s largest trade show of contemporary living décor. Although people usually buy their products online, you can find their merchandise at Chapter 1 (Garosugil) and Platform Place.
Lee Hun, a shoe designer who used to work for London Fashion Week, usually goes for the glamorous when it comes to high heels. Then one day in London, he saw a master shoemaker in his 60’s make a pair of flats for his wife on her birthday. Witnessing that one moment inspired him. It was the moment he decided to put love into the thing that he does best. He immediately ran to his wife, who was pregnant at the time, and asked what kind of shoes she would like to wear. She answered that she wanted a vintage-looking handmade loafer. He was determined to make a shoe that was both stylish and comfortable for her to wear. That was how Veronica for London came into the world. You sense the love Lee Hun poured into this company when you experience just how comfortable all their shoes are. They only use materials like genuine leather, wood and rubber, making it possible for even pregnant women to comfortably walk around in these shoes. On top of that, the simple designs never go out of fashion, and their staying faithful to the original color of the leather adds to the timeless appeal of their collection. Veronica for London hopes to stay the type of shoe brand that makes long-lasting classic designs instead of sacrificing quality for the sake of fast production. That’s the reason they don’t even have a separate S/S and F/W collection. Instead, they have their own “vacation” set aside to prepare for the next line. All of their shoes can be on your feet within one or two weeks after
It’s said that rabbits are the first creatures to struggle when there is a lack of oxygen. Now picture a happy group of rabbits living in a green and oxygen-rich forest. This image was captured by illustrator Nanan, which is how the name came about. “Oxygen Forest” is a living art project organized by four collaborators: Nanan, her photographer friend Cider, and designer Bang So-young, all of whom came together with hanbok brand Kumdanje. With motifs of rabbits, forests, and flowers, looking at their products makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of nature. And with euphonious names like “Flow,” “Air” and “Observe,” they’re beautiful just to listen to. It’s even more appealing that these products can be used daily, be it bags, cushions or place mats. Purchases are available at Kumdanje in Sinsa, and MMMG in Hannam. Collection bag 39,000won, framed art 85,000–98,000 won, cushion 48,000 won, place mats 25,000–28,000 won.
If you can custom-make a tailored suit for more formal occasions, why not get a pair of custom-made tailored jeans for the everyday? At Hur Jung-un's Bespoke Denim, you can do just that. Unlike several shops that use ready-made patterns to make "custom tailor" clothes, this store custom-designs a pair of jeans so that it will perfectly fit the person's body shape. Hur Jung-un explained how his store got its start: "I simply loved clothes when I was young, and then I started thinking that I wanted to make clothes for myself. I did my research and started making clothes, and when that happened, I started getting orders from those who admired my jeans." He imports materials directly from leaders in the jean industry, such as Japan, Turkey, and the U.S., which are reputed for good denim and highly advanced dyeing techniques. A customer who visits his shop picks the type of denim fabric that she or he likes, is measured, and discusses designs. Once the design is roughly decided upon, the customer can choose every detail of the product, including buttons, zippers and even the color of the threads. After basting is done, (for a perfect fit, they use denim instead of cotton cloth) the customer finalizes the details for the end product. One pair of jeans involves three trips to the store and costs quite the pretty penny, but it might be worth it to create the jeans of your dreams. The shop opened last year in January and this February they opened their second branch at the Shinsegae D
At Barogream located in Sangsu-dong, you can find reasonably priced small sized art works. With each of the paintings and illustrations created by around 40 local artists (professionals as well as amateurs) telling a unique or witty story of its own, it's fun to look around and spend some time here. The reason why this place is called Barogream (which roughly translates as "immediate drawing") is because anyone can submit a piece to sell here—"anyone should be able to make, share and buy art" the philosophy of Lee Hong-jin, the founder of this shop. While it's an extremely small space, Barogream showcases around 2000 pieces of works. They're all in a high quality, and can be simply framed with paper frames which come in 15 different colors (they're light yet quite durable).
This is a café/select shop located in Donggyo-dong. Different themes are chosen every two to three months bringing in various brands that fit the pop-up store concept. Right now, Scope Seoul is introducing loungewear in collaboration with pajama brand Melt, under the theme of “Instant Vacation.” You'll also find items by local designer brands such as grds sneakers, handmade Panama hats from M ET TOI, and floral-embroidered dresses and bags from Mahsoyoung.
Located on a side street of Gyeongridan, this bottle shop is just steps away from Monster Pizza. Stocked with all kinds of rare craft beer goods, The Bottle Shop calls itself “the first premium ale shop in town.” On summer nights, it’s the perfect place to chill outside, people watch and have a beer. During the winter, when many people in Itaewon are throwing house parties, it’s the go-to place to stop and pick up party goods. Ales, lagers, stouts, porters and malts are all available in a variety of styles. Even the hard-to-find Stone Crewing Company beer can be found here. When you’re tired of searching for your favorite beer in the local markets, try The Bottle Shop.