Since I have been back on the island and just a short drive away from visiting all of my favorite clothing stores at my local mall or even NYC I have been ecstatic.
Living in Korea for three years was not always easy when it comes to shopping. Outside of food, drinks, and basic essentials, clothing styles and favorite brands were hard to find. In order to still buy and wear my favorite brands I would order them online, have them shipped to my home address in NY, and then have my family mail me a box of food with my new clothes as a gift parcel to Korea (*to avoid the hefty customs/border tax on foreign purchases). The upside of doing this was a steady relief that I could wear the same clothing brands I was used to. The downside to this was the waiting period. But, it was efficient.
This was how I purchased clothing until the beginning of my second year(2014) in Korea. Into my second year I started to rely less on asking my family to send me parcels since I wanted to become less dependent on items outside of Korea. Instead I shopped at global brand stores such as Uniqlo (me and my boyfriend’s favorite store), H&M, Forever21, Mango and my recent favorite Asian apparel store Giordano.
For some foreigners, finding clothing in Korea that not only appeals to your tastes, but works well with your body can be difficult. I have never had this difficulty since I am 5’3 and slender with a few curves around the waist. Thankfully, curves aside I can fit into regular size clothing in any global or Korean clothing store.
During my second year I tried to expand out and shop at Korean brand/boutique clothing stores, however, each time I visited a new store with friends I did not find any clothes that really caught my eye. In a previous blog Beauty is Skin Deep: Beauty Image in Korea I talked about how in college I used my wardrobe as my beauty image. This still remains true in even now.
My wardrobe represents my character/ personality. It is one piece of myself, which I love to experiment with daily. Living in Korea never changed my interest in up-keeping my wardrobe. In contrast living in fashion-oriented Seoul peaked my interest to expand my own fashion tastes.
Shopping less online and more in-stores in Korea was not always easy at first. I remember my first experience at a small Korean boutique store I visited after a few months while living in Korea. When I entered the store I was surrounded by Korean associates who wished to assist me. Receiving so much attention was nice, but it places an undue pressure on customers (at least me) to feel like they should buy an item from the store. In the end I did buy a dress I had tried on at the store because it was unique for its design. That in-store experience, however, never faded.
Unlike in Korea where Korean associates (*depending on how busy the store is) follow prospective customers around – in the U.S. customers are free to roam through stores endlessly. The freedom to move around without feeling any watchful eyes is a blessing we sometimes forget when in new environments.
By my second and third year in Korea I became well-acquainted with Korean store culture. However, as mentioned earlier due to not finding too many unique or eye-catching items I stuck with visiting major global brands and other international Asia apparel stores.
Honestly, since I returned to shopping in-stores in Korea and back in NY I have been offline in shopping for clothes for close to 2 years. Nowadays, when I feel the need to upgrade my wardrobe with additional apparel I just go to my favorite brand store and peruse through the store endlessly to see what’s new or in-style for the season. Recently though I go to the store for specific purposes. For example, in my most recent visit to a Nordstrom rack store I was dressing hunting for my nephew’s baptismal ceremony. After trying on a number of dresses I chose the most fitting and checked out.
In a sense I thank my experience in shopping in Korea for reducing the amount of time I use to dawdle around in stores. Now I when I visit a store I am usually in and out in less than an hour, even after trying on clothes. I guess it is because I grown accustomed to the Korean notion of bali bali(빨리 빨리 ), which means ‘doing things quickly.’
Learn more about Korean fashion by checking out some highly-recommended pages below:
- Check out blogger Fashion and Seoul’s 2010 Lost in Fashion: Seoul blog page:
- Check out District Gal’s Korean inspired (district/global) fashion website: