Seoul is stereotypically known for its dirty, crowded wholesale markets and back alley bargains, but a new crop of high design, high concept boutiques is now opening up, bringing global respect to the city as an emerging fashion capital.
The recently opened, Rem Koolhaas-designed Prada shop (called The Prada Transformer), for one, is a “shape shifting building.” The structure—which combines the four sides of a tetrahedon (hexagon, cross, rectangle and circle) into one pavilion—is entirely covered with a smooth plastic membrane and will be flipped using cranes, completely changing the visitor’s experience with each visit. A rotating calendar of exhibitions is also set to take place through July 2009.
Additionally, Corso Como 10—the Korean outpost of Milan’s most famous multibrand shop/gallery/cafe—celebrates its first anniversary. The shop is a virtual replica of the Milanese original, featuring similar artwork, packaging and designer assortment as well as the signature black and white bullseye décor, all created under the direction of Carla Sozzani.
Ann Demeulemeester, meanwhile, introduced a new flagship boutique in Seoul earlier this year, which has caught the attention of the design community. The store is known for its vegetation covered walls and façade, making it a sort of giant Chia-shop.
We also spent a lot of time at Daily Projects, Seoul’s ultimate concept shop, for its wonderful, sun-filled café/bookshop and creative assortment of the coolest international avant-garde designers as well as Seoul’s up and comers. Band of Outsiders, Patrik Ervell, C. Neeon, Opening Ceremony, Ann-Sofie Back, Common Projects and Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair are just some of the shop’s popular international labels, while domestic designers such as Suh SangYoung, Instantology, Laundry 202 get prominent placement. The store is known as ground zero for the fashion crowd, with regularly scheduled events and art exhibitions, a monthly flea market for small designers and constantly changing merchandise assortments.
San Francisco Market, on the other hand, gives off a whiff of Old World classicism, thanks to Cab Calloway playing on the radio, antique fixtures, Turkish rugs and an amazing array of brands that blend today’s most coveted labels with traditional ones. The clothes on offer were all of the new classic, tailored casual variety such as Haversack, Mason’s, Engineered Garments, East Harbour Surplus, Breuer ties and the house label. There was an extensive assortment of footwear by Tricker’s, leather goods from Heliotrope as well as all the brushes and tools one could ever would need for shoe and leather care.
From the arrival of these innovative designers to Korea’s unparalleled capacity to manufacture fashion, Seoul’s status as one of the most fashionable cities in the world is on the ascent.