Where to buy one of a kind vintage luxury bags and secondhand K-pop idol garments in Seoul
Looking to leave South Korea with a little more than its local streetwear? This vintage store in Gangnam is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered
For the avid shopper or frequent flyer to Seoul, the country's local offering loses its magic after the first couple of visits. Its youth's sartorial appetite that runs the spectrum of hype to darling sees South Korea's stable of designers veering towards the homogenous — prompting us to look elsewhere for our shopping fix. The obvious alternative? Vintage and secondhand stores.
In a neighbourhood off Gangnam's Apgujeong is Bell & Nouveau, a store retailing a hefty selection of vintage and secondhand luxury bags, clothing and accessories in its basement. Their forte: Customisation. From hand-painted graffiti on Hermès Birkins and embellished Chanel Reissues, to elaborate, unique garments made specially for K-pop idols' music videos and appearances, it's definitely worth looking past the kitschy decor and get digging.
The bonus? Bell & Nouveau has a second location a short three-minute walk from its main store, housing most of the range of clothing previously owned, or created for and worn by their local celebrities. The catch is that you can't just walk in — owner Bell Kim will only take you there and open it up upon request.
Here's a rundown of what to look out for, and what to do to get the most out of your visit.
What to buy (at the main store): '80s Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior jackets, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo ties, vintage and pre-loved Chanel, Hermès, Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags (graffitied, embellished, and as is), as well as Chanel and Christian Dior fashion jewellery.
What to ask for: If a non-graffitied bag catches your eye but you much prefer to have it customised, speak to Kim about having his artist work on your purchase — they'll most likely be able to get it done within a day. Also, use this to segue into having him take you to their second store to browse the collection below.
Key K-pop pieces spotted (at the second location): A beaded bustier from a Girl's Generation music video and an embellished hat worn by Boa.
Love vintage and secondhand shopping? Consider these other stores:
Bell & Nouveau's main store is located at 542-3 Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (B1 level). Hantage is located at 347-14, Seogyo-dong, Seoul (B1 level). Storage & Co. is located at 328-18, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul (1st floor). Aging Percent is located at 327-20 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul (1st floor).