The Travel Look – Because fashion is a state of mind

Last week we traveled to Busan. A beautiful coastal city at the southern tip of South Korea. Busan is the second most largest city in Korea both in terms of population and popularity after Seoul. A 2 night 3 day trip which wasn’t very awaited turned out to be one of the most memorable trip of my life. Maximum fun with minimum luggage with free hands to capture what our eyes see in Camera is my husband’s travel mantra. I abide it. Therefore a long light pink shrug, a pair of light leather-like comfortable boots, a pair of black shorts, 2 tops, a bag with essentials and a pair of cool sunglasses. 

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The experience of sunset added further to happy minds and curious souls.IMG_7149

The pink shrug was so ideal amidst nature and the cool breeze 

 

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Cool water splashes at the Gangwali bridge at night was awesome.
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I was just beginning to take that 4.7 km trail path right behind me. Unplanned of course.
IMG_7333It was such a fun. Loved every bit of it

 

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Boutique Shopping…. The Full Spot Factory & Moeum

Seoul is truly a shopping haven. Unlike other destinations of Asia (where I haven’t been yet) Korea prides itself for its made in Korea label. Unlike any other metropolis Seoul has all of Michel Kors, Zara, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Farrago, Forever 21, Burberry, H&M and all yet here exists a great behavior of boutique shopping trends. The best places of Seoul to check out boutique stores would be Itaewon (where I stay ), Appujeong, Gangnam and Garosagil . It was in Garusagil one day while I was wondering with my camera where I came across two stores about which I would like to mention in post today.

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The Full spot Factory – Now this is a popular brand from Italy. Though it has made its presence felt very much in Europe, its now in South Korea for some time. However unlike the trend of getting every single consumer centric name to the glitzy image of ruthless ‘brandism’ the Full Spot Factory is playing it quite and niche among the selective buyers in Seoul. I happened to have strolled into their shop, primarily because of the attractive colors and loved every bit of it. I did not know about this brand before. The Full spot factory Seoul outlet is mainly endorsing bags at the moment and they are worth a buy. Sleek, bright and different would be the 3 words I would like to describe them with. They have different sizes and are priced from $75 (US) and above. Check them out at http://www.fullspot.kr/shop/main/index.php or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fullspotkorea/info.

2 3 4 5 Moeum – Honestly, it was their very inviting walkway décor to the store, which got me. Moeum’s footwear style was classic and honestly was not anything I hadn’t seen before. But even the classic designs, which they displayed, were stylishly unusual. Specially the colors used and the intelligent use of leather. Their collection of summer flats and gladiator flats were very distinct which I have not seen in Seoul or other parts of Korea before. Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/moeum/timeline. The décor including the wall art was breathtaking. It will surely attract any buyer’s attention.

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Jumpsuits

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The feeling satisfaction of cool water on your skin in the peak of June is so nice. It gets nicer when you can casually drench yourself purely in joy without giving a second thought about anything. This one piece wonder called “Jumpsuit” makes it absolutely real. The light & soft fabric, a pair of comfortable flats, my glasses and my bag was everything that made my evening so blissful by the Han river in the evening. The continuity of this wear gives it a wonderful look which is classic and would remain so for future generations too.

Guess the pop icon who made this piece a rage among men’s fashion scene – no candies for guessing – ELVIS PRESLEY . Currently Forever 21 has the coolest collection of jumpsuits of all the other clothing brand. They are very ’21ish’ and more ‘street fashion’. however I wish they had more chic designs.

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Fashion Districts in Seoul

Seoul is synonymous of shopping. Yes, I mean it as I say it’s impossible to leave Seoul without shopping. You name it and they have it. For people living in South Korea there are countless fashion boutiques and newly defined vintage shops all over the Korean peninsula, but for the ‘fashionstrucks’ here for a short time there are couple of requisite shopping tours one should explore. The top most contemporary, uber-cool and fashionable districts of Seoul are Myeongdong, Hongik University, Dongdaemun, Itaewon and Ehwa Women’s university. (This post is about Clothes, Shoes, Accessories & Bags). Let’s get to know these places and how to shop the best out of them

Hongik Uiversity – As the name suggests this is the Hongik University area and caters to lots of young and urban korean crowd. This area is also popular popular for being one of the happening clubbing places of Seoul with an interesting night life. This place can be reached by any means including Bus, Subway, Taxi etc. The subway station is called Hongik University station on line no 2, exit 9 will lead to the main shopping area. One very unique thing that makes Hongik very special would be it’s ambience. The area is very beautiful with small boutiques and cafes. Since it’s a university area the crowd comprises mostly of students and young people. A night time or a weekend stroll through lanes often ends up on a lovely roadside singing performances by young boys or let-loose dances. Like all other shopping area this area brags about all the trendy must haves but however it has it’s specialities. This market is best for buying casual clothing and casual accessories.

Main Shopping Attractions – Reasonable Summer & Spring casual clothes and accessories.

Myeongdong –  Myeongdong is the most common shopping area of Seoul. I remember being there just within 10 hours getting of off from the flight. This place has become way more than just shopping. It is indeed a must visit place in Seoul for an average tourist visiting South Korea. Now, that is big ! Apart from the shopping,the Myeongdong theatre and the Myeongdong Catholic Church also attracts many people to this shopping haven. Myeongdong is a blend of both branded and street fashion. Surely all the ZARA, Uniqlo, Lacoste, Forever 21 etc are lined up on both the sides of the cobbled alleys of Myeongdong, but also we find amazing stylish stockings, interesting hats, ballerina shoes and everything so economical. Especially for winter shopping, Myeongdong should be visited as it sells really bright and varied colored woolen & non-woolen mufflers, scarfs, ear-caps etc. Myeongdong can be reached by subway, Myeongdong station is on line 4 and exit 6 leads to the market.

Main Shopping Attractions – Winter Accessories

Dongdaemun Market – Before I continue with the Dongdaemun shopping area, I would like to share this place’s history. Dongdaemun is also home to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park where one can see a unique combination of Seoul’s history and Korea’s fast paced advanced technology. It is one of the oldest market place and during the korean war this market was completely destroyed. Since 2002 Dongdaemun market has been one of the special tourism Zone where one gets everything. In short it is the wholesale market of Seoul. Popular with the domestic korean shoppers the Dongdaemun also has a night market which starts around 10pm and stays open till dawn. This market is spread over a very large area and is divided into A,B,C & D section. However for fashionistas Dongdaemun is the best place for buying formal dresses or semi formal wears. This place has several shopping Malls and the best would be Doota Tower and Miligore Tower for buying dresses. The price would not be very economical or may be, depends on one’s bargaining skills, but the dress collection they have are to die for. Size is a tricky concept in korea. I would keep it short by saying most foreigners are large sized. But, one should not back out without trying a particular outfit. Dongdaemun can be reached by subway at Dongdaemun Stadium Station and the market can be reached exiting through exit 8 or 9.

Main Shopping Attractions – Dresses


Ehwa Women’s University
 – Unlike the previous shopping areas of Seoul the Ehwa Women’s University shopping are is not very big or has many big and branded shops around. The shops are mostly for women buyers and have lots of young girls passing by. I personally thing Ehwa Women’s University shopping area is good for shopping for bags. It has couple of very good stores for bags at reasonable ranges. Ehwa Women’s University shopping area is on line no 2 and can be reached through exit 2 or 3. On exiting from exiting 2, one can walk straight for about 200 meters and then turn right, while walking towards this place a big campus area would be passed by on the right hand side. After walking for about 200 meters turn right from a fast food joint. The second store would be an exclusive long & narrow bag store. This store has been one of my favorite places to purchase bags and the price is very reasonable (10,000 KRW – 80,000 mostly). There are other store around Ehwa Women’s University shopping area as well but I would vouch for this one.

Main Shopping Attractions – Bags

Itaewon – Itaewon is no different from any major international airport like JFK, Heathrow, Dubai or Singapore. I say this because of the sheer volume of foreigner that can be seen in this area. Itaewon is definitely one of the coolest shopping places in Seoul, especially its underground market. The best thing about shopping in Itaewon is one does not have to bother about size. This is primarily because Itaewon is very close to the American Army base and most of the English teachers live in Itaewon. However the underground market and the back alleys of Itaewon have interesting boutiques with unique collections, that can be rarely found in other markets of Seoul. On coming out from exit 2 and after walking about 200 meters a big travel bag shop can be found just before Mac Donalds. The underground market and the back alleys start from that point. Itaewon can be reached by subway by line 6 at exit 2.

Main Shopping Attractions – Availability of sizes

Happy Shopping

Fashion in Seoul

This is my second year in South Korea and so far I like it with all its odds. During my initial interviewing days, I was told by one of the senior tourism veteran professional in Seoul, that “Looks are very important in career in Korea”. I thought “well, where it isn’t  but then she said “sometimes more than your skills, expertise and talent” that time I wasn’t sure what to think or how to react. I understood her words through my observance which followed.

 

There is nothing called casual wearing in South Korea, Seoul in particular. Even casual wearing has decorum. The best time to glare to into Korean sense of fashion is during the wee hours of morning-when all the decked up ladies and gentlemen are on their way to work. Their perfection in carrying their style definition is unbeatable. I personally like the winter fashion.

Shoes – Tall strong looking boots and subtle ballerina’s are my favorite picks for amongst footwear in SEOUL. No matter how high the heels are and no matter how much distance is to be covered, these feminine coy beauties carry it with a very impressive grace. Some of the best places in Seoul to picks these fashions are Gangnam, Lotte Mart, Sinsegae Stores etc. For people who wants them despite a disciplined wallet, like me, check out Myeong-dong area, Itaewon, Ehwa women’s university backalleys, Sinchon subway underground shopping and many more

 

 Bags – They are one of my biggest weakness’ among all the other accessories. South Korea has one of the best unbranded fashionable bag markets, I believe. The locally manufactured bags have great leather quality, perfect finish, weighs light and not to miss, gorgeous colors. South Korea is often referred to as the “Germany of Asia” while referring to quality check of goods.They are nothing less than the Louis Vuitton, Prada, Aldo or Hermes. I heard that the Bangkok, Hong kong and Singapore are big favorites when it comes to fashion shopping, but I recommend trying out this quite Asian tiger which will never let you complain.

 

 

Men – One thing among Korean fashion which I am not much fond of is Men fashion. Firstly Korean men in general have a very soft and polite look and a very lean structure. Men and young guys who sometimes choose to grow mustache or stubble look relatively better. But otherwise I don’t get how they can carry women bags on their left hand and scroll through their smartphones effortlessly. However one thing in common is that they are very gentle and neat in their attire.

In person I may not come across very fashionable, but after coming to this city I have definitely broaden my interest in fashion.

Fall Wear Trends !

The unpleasant summer is quietly escaping, I am blissfully taking a sip into my mint tea at my workstation, its a late morning of September and it’s that time of the year. After so long my most awaited season of the year is coming.

Fall

These will be the days of bright & warm lunch at work, happy Starbucks & cozy Caffee Bene coffees, watching unfinished episodes of “How I met your mother”, bright nail polishes complimenting the newly bought shoes and that gorgeous ice-cold breeze running through my hair. I simply love fall in Korea. The love of fall cannot survive happily without the love of fashion. Globally fall fashion is a big time trend. I was browsing to look for new fall collections at United Colors of Benetton,Korea and I came across this dress.

She is a UBC Korea staff and not a model. I came across this image while browsing through some culture stories on the UBC Korea website. I loved the attitude she is wearing – casual yet confident while carefree yet cautious. The attire appears to be light and airy however highlights an appropriate understanding of her body. In this image this girl adorns a very un-korean image.

Courtesy UBC Website

However when I looked closer I felt the absence of an armlet or bangle. All in all I really liked her look. For a similar taste the following dress is suggestive. It can be picked at United Colors of Benetton,Korea

Courtesy UBC Website

Refer to http://bit.ly/1f6pNez for further information. It is priced at around US $ 158.

I would also recommend the following attire as a great day Fall wear.

Courtesy UBC Website

Yes it’s more feminine

yet very chic. I came across this dress across UBC’s International Website

Top 5 Korean Online Trends

So, how is life treating all ? I am back after a short break from my summer travel. It was an fun-filled but “unleisurous” trip to Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome, rich in history, pasta, gelatos, wine and scorching summer heat. Oh, how I missed rice and Seoul J

Paris had always fascinated me, at least the way its epitomized in different magazines, but from my 6 days and 5 nights stay in the city something which did not match upto my french apprehension was their online behavior. I am talking of the french natives living life there. After living in Seoul for almost 2 years now and before that in New Delhi for about 3.5 years I have some observations about the online behavior of these cities.  Over the last decade (since 2000) Korea’s internet market grew at an expeditious speed and the present value of this market worth US $ 12,000,000,000. Everybody wears this power on their sleeves. The top 2 dominant internet company in Korea are Naver and Daum. Naver is the google equivalent amongst Koreans. There are ample reasons why I make such a heavy comment. See below :

 Seoul

Seoulites are always glued to their smartphones – People say in Seoul sleeping is for losers (by the way I am one among the losers).  Which ever place you step into you would find the Seoulites are always glued to their smartphones, after all it’s the home to world’s one of the most smartest technology, Samsung. It’s like the synonym to korea and leaves its trace in all walks of lives of people who dwell in this country. Why not, it has every thing. A standard day of a seoulite with his smartphone is like Morning news, Games on the way to work, Checking every minute emails, Social networking, Catching up with make up on the subway, Transportation maps, Reading e-books, Watching live TV, Korean Dramas (oh, how can I forget that), music and calling

Sourcing Information in Seoul – Though censorship is really strong, but however you can get practically all information over the net. One unusual fact about the internet speed is its connection with the content you are surfing . For example I surf lot of american and indian content (youtube videos, blogs, live news online, movie downloads) and find my internet speed increasingly getting slow. However, when I see sponsored korean ads or korean online TV programs the speed is just perfect. It is strange, but I had found later that the speed of the internet gets effected if international content is being surfed.Another thing, accessing porn sites are illegal in Korea and is considered as one of the top cyber crimes. Most porn sites are blocked.

 Shopping – Like this country’s economy other aspects are growing rapidly as well. These other aspects are food, home décor, fashion and surely online shopping. It was the other day at work I was chatting with my colleague about how I have managed to get an offer on my favorite perfume brand.Elizabeth Arden from Jeju Island’s duty free shopping. I bragged about the fact that it was a rare fragnance and not commonly available. She said let me take a try online. She got it, bought it and in 3 hours it was delivered at her workstation. Such is the ease and trend of online shopping in seoul.

Gaming – This nation is simply obsessed and infatuated with gaming and are turning this passion into good revenues.Video gaming competitions are nationally televised and they draw lot of air traffic. As South Korea has one of the highest internet penetration in the world and being one of the most wired nations, players have a smoother experience. Gaming contributes to a very large extent to Korea’s GDP and games like Starcraft are very popular

Education – Study abroad is an enriching learning experience at a very younger age for any student. With time as I met more and more people I learnt studying abroad for Korean students is like an different achievement, yes it is to all – but here in a different sense. Achieving higher education in a foreign country allows students to broaden their knowledge about other people and culture and get exposed to  international market. However for Korean studying abroad(Especially to native english speaking countries) initially came with the prejudice of social symbol now its more cooler. Have I hardly come across anyone who mentioned about the course they had studied or how they would implement their learnings into their career. Anyway, they did make english friends.