Life in Korea: shopping for vintage clothes in Seoul

Seoul has more shopping than even the biggest fashionistas will have time to see. Towering department stores overlook their more traditional roots, and while the old school markets retain a certain charm, the vintage stores combine a taste of the new with the styles of yesterdecade. There’s more than a few out there, thanks to the vintage style gaining momentum.

What’s most interesting: the style of vintage is a Western one – and the clothes often imported or sent to Korea. The result? Western styles, western sizes, and generally at a decent price. While the selection can be random, they’re definitely worth checking out.

The most obvious place to start

You may have heard of the Beautiful Store (아름다움 가게) – essentially a clone of the American chain known as Goodwill. If you’re unfamiliar with either, the stores sells items that were donated to them and generates revenue for social programs. It’s a bargain-hunter’s dream, although each locations naturally has a unique, fluctuating selection. There are quite a few around town, but this official page shares the ones most visited by English-language speakers.

The Salvation Army have their own stores, but the official website is less than helpful for English speakers – instead, check out the excellent Korea4Expats page for their locations.

But wait, there’s plenty more!

Downtown Seoul

Gwangjang Market – you may have gone for the fish, the fabric, or the pajeon in the past, but this time, go for the clothes. Up on the 2nd floor is enough vintage stuff – and LOTS of stuff for guys – to clothe a small army. A lot of it is from the Western world, and quite a bit of it is hideous – perfect for Halloween or any number of costume parties.

Jongno-5-ga, line 1, exit 7. Pass Gwangjang Market on left, entering near the end, going up a wide staircase at the corner that looks like this:

It’s just past an orange brick wall. Once on the second floor, head right and prepare to be amazed.

Hongdae

Page One – an interesting third-floor destination. Almost entirely women’s clothing and accessories – very little for men. 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 364-3, 070-8612-5329, page-one.co.kr

The easiest way to arrive is from Sangsu station, line 6, exit 1. Make the U-turn to the right, then walk about 300 meters to the first side street past a larger road, Wa-u-san-ro-19-gil (와우산로19길). Walk 50 meters to the second right, Wa-u-san-ro-21-gil (와우산로21길), and walk another 50 meters. Look left and up, to the third floor. If you reach the Hongdae Children’s Park, you’ve gone too far.

Cowboy – one of the only vintage stores I know of that has more clothes for men than for women. A lot of American cultural stuff, including rock band t-shirts, overalls / uniforms, and so on. 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 345-3 – start from Hongdae station, line 2, exit 9. Take the immediate right down the side street, then walk to the third right (by the Aritaum and Pho Bay). Walk 20 meters and look for the Cowboy sign on your right – it’s in the basement.

Two are quite close to each other and Sangsu station, line 6, exit 1 – Lost & Found (서울특별시 마포구 상수동 146-19, 010-6672-3712, lostnfound.kr) steers more toward vintage furniture and silverware, along with women’s clothes and accessories. There’s almost nothing for the guys here, so move onto the other place (서울특별시 마포구 상수동 91-2). Also along the main road, this place screams ‘VINTAGE CLOTHES’ without any form of subtlety, though I didn’t see a name to the place.

Manhattan American Vintage Clothing – quite a bit of stuff for women, but not a whole bunch for the guys.

Arrive from Sangsu station, exit 1, U-turn to the right, then walk about 250 meters and turn left down 와우산로17길 (Wa-u-san-ro-17-gil) – this is the side street with a straight and left fork. Head straight for 100 meters and look right, just before a major intersection with 어울마당로. It’s in the basement.

North of the river

The Seoul Folk Flea Market is worth a mention, though there’s not a lot of clothes you’ll want to buy. To get to the Seoul Folk Flea Market, take the Seoul subway system to the Sinseol-dong station on line 1 or 2. Take exit 9, then immediately turn around. Turn left at the first street, then walk straight for 80 meters. Enter the building through any of the many entrances

The Dongmyo station area has more than enough folks selling almost everything from ancient tech (not sure anyone needs old landline phones anymore) to a fair amount of clothing. Start from Dongmyo station (line 1 or 6), exit 3, and look right.

South of the river

VinPrime has two locations in the Express Bus Terminal – one on the line 7 corridor a floor above the platform, and one in the line 3 area, a floor below street level. The latter is closest to line 8. Both offer a roughly equal percentage of stuff for men and women, and both have discounts for larger purchases (above 50,000 won)

The Garosu-gil area, while trendy, is more ‘retro’ styles than authentic vintage. Get here from Sinsa station (line 3), exit 8, walk about 250 meters and look left. It’s proper name, according to the new address system, is 도산대로13길

 

Where do you go to get your vintage needs?