Sunday, 19 April 2015

Vintage Clothes Hunting in Seoul

If you love vintage clothes, and rather than buy online you prefer to rummage through thrift stores for hidden gems, you may have a bit of a hard time in Korea. People here generally don't 'do' second-hand clothes. Or second-hand anything. They prefer stuff that's new, shiny and trendy. So vintage fashion is much more of a niche market, and thus harder to shop for.

However, there are a few ways to get a vintage fashion fix in Seoul: Firstly, there are some dedicated 'vintage' stores which stock carefully selected pieces, but just like vintage stores in the UK, prices can be high. One of the best places is A-Land in Myeongdong, which is not a vintage store but does have a whole floor dedicated to vintage. There are also a few vintage stores in the Apgujeong and Itaewon shopping areas.

Another way to find vintage clothes is in charity shops. However, there are very few of these in Seoul! The main ones are Goodwill, Salvation Army and Beautiful Store, and you can find the locations by searching online. These stores don't tend to have many quality items for sale, unfortunately, and sometimes they literally look like someone just threw out all their really old useless junk and dumped it in the shop. On the plus side, if you do buy anything here, at least you know your money is going to charity.

Somewhere in between a vintage store and a thrift store is 'Vin Prime', which sells everything from gaudy 1980s vintage, to newer second-hand stuff, to well-worn designer pieces from Dior, Celine, etc. They have a massive store inside the underground of Express Bus Terminal, at the tranfser area between subway line 3 and 7, a new store in Gangnam near the subway exit 12, and a few other locations. Personally I like the new Gangnam store best. You can find a few good pieces if you search the rails, but nicer items have a higher price, so don't expect to come away with bags full of bargains.

Found this great Adidas T-shirt and 1980s denim jacket for 9,000 Won each at Vin Prime

Language Tip!
If you go to Vin Prime and you want to check the inside label on something to find out what it's made of, it might be handy to know a bit of Japanese. That's because a lot of the stuff they sell has been shipped in from Japan, so the original garment labels will be in Japanese. Here are some handy words to know:

ポリエステル  Polyester
レーヨン         Rayon
絹                   Silk
綿                   Cotton

If you're not that familiar with Japanese at all, just look for what is written next to the percentage, and you can just take a guess that if there is a traditional character (you know, like Chinese), it's probably a natural fiber, and if it's something written in katakana (which looks longer but with simpler letters), it's probably a sythetic fiber. 

I struck lucky with this 5,000won printed dress - 100% silk!  地 means outer and 裏 means lining.

Although vintage is not such a big thing in Korea, I do recommend seeking out these stores if you want to stand out from the crowd in Seoul. Fashion here is a lot more uniform than it is in a city like London, for example. A lot of the cheap stores and market stalls here are selling exactly the same items as each other, so it's hard to find anything unique or different without spending a lot of money. Vintage is a good way to go if you want to be sure that nobody else will be wearing the same clothes as you.

Happy bargain hunting, everyone! And leave me a comment if you find any other good vintage clothes stores in Seoul.

Update: I just discovered that there is a HUGE vintage clothing market on on the second floor of Gwangjang market! How did I not know about this before?!

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