“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver
Staying near Gangnam for part of our trip, I had to check out the fashion scene there. In case you were living under a rock this year, Gangnam is the “nouveau riche” neighborhood in Seoul that achieved global infamy when K-pop start PSY wrote a song (and more importantly, dance) mocking it’s existence.
My retail tour just confirmed what I always suspected: I am genetically wired to love shopping! The amount of luxe label shopping available at places like Lotte and Shinsegae department stores was amazing. Here’s a small sampling of what I saw, I could hardly figure out what to look at next:
The Korean shopping experience is much like I’d imagine it was in the old days at Bergdorf’s or Harrod’s. Upon entering, an unassuming salesperson always approached and asked if he/she could help. I always said, “I’m just looking,” but that didn’t stop them from following either a step behind as I walked the shop, or nervously dashing about in front of me trying to see what I was eyeing and then taking it down for me to look at (though I hadn’t asked). In a few boutiques the ladies even slipped on black velvet gloves before reaching for a special handbag or wallet to show me.
The result of doting on shoppers this way meant the elite stores roped off their entries, with lines of eager shoppers forming waiting to be ushered in by an attentive shop clerk. Didn’t want a crowd who would wander unassisted! Too bad the prices had to be so inflated – even in the summer sales in the duty free stores, a Prada zip-around wallet would set me back more than a full-price one in the States.
Of course, for the budget-conscious, there are always the designer replicas…but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. We went walking around a different part of the city at the Namdaemun Market, a popular spot to find some “famous brands” and it was hilarious to see the way that some of the knock-offs were trying to use the luxury logos, some more true to the genuine brand products than others.