3 top Doota boutiques for the fashion-forward femme
When low-priced boutique fashion mall Migliore first opened in Dongdaemun in 1998, it became an overnight sensation domestically and internationally.
Asian retail consultants flew their clients in to Korea to show them the new business platform of tiny low-priced non-brand wholesale and retail boutiques crammed into a high-rise building, with snack shops and small supermarkets on every corner.
But then, a year later, Doosan Tower, otherwise known as “Doota” opened next door and took all the limelight for doing the same thing, only better.
Run by the Doosan conglomerate, the eight-story shopping mall strived to set itself apart from all the subsequent copycat shopping malls with sophisticated advertisement campaigns and a sharply modern and cheerful interior décor.
Now, more than a decade later, more than 60,000 people visit the Doota building per day, bringing the annual number of visitors to 20 million.
Doosan Tower marketing team manager Kim Joon-chul says one of the big draws for the one-stop fashion hotspot is that it curates one-of-a-kind pieces while also supporting new and seasoned Korean designers.
Zone Dooche on the basement floor is set aside for budding designers while the Designer Gallery on the first floor houses more seasoned veterans.
While prices have certainly climbed in the past decade -- some of the boutiques are now downright expensive -- Doota still remains a prime destination for fashionistas with slim wallets and even less time on their hands, as one can pick up shoes, accessories, men and women’s clothing and cosmetics in one fell swoop.
But despite the hundreds of shops that sell products in other categories, womenswear remains Doota’s firm mainstay. Although the confusing maze-like structure of the massive mall may seem daunting for the most veteran of shoppers, here are three of the best women’s boutiques that merit the journey.
CRES. E DIM. -- Avant-garde for the independent-minded
“Project Runway Korea” Season One contestant Kim Hong-bum launched his brand CRES. E DIM. in 2009 a few months after the fashion reality show started airing.
Now, having just broken into the U.S. market, the 32-year old creative director exhibits a flair for innovative duds.
His khaki beige cape-vest affair, which can be worn as an edgy bouffant-backed jacket, sports strategically-placed snaps that can be undone to remove the outer and reveal a smart vest underneath.
“Our clothes are structural and fun,” said CRES. E DIM. designer Kim Hyun-hee, 23.
Leggings and T-shirts in practically every hue -- including addictive candy colors -- make for in-your-face accents in club wear. A light beige jacket with restrained black fringes and slick black lapels channels neo-Western for the office worker who wants to do business in style.
Black legging-style pants with white triangles on the thighs and a crisscross-cut ebony jacket showcases Kim Hong-bum’s more experimental streak.
T-shirts range around ₩28,000 to ₩54,000, leggings ₩15,000 to ₩28,000, pants around ₩85,000 to ₩158,000, coats and jackets around ₩198,000 to ₩400,000.
Designer Gallery, 1/F, Shop #33, +82 2 3398 5311, www.cresedim.com
be -- Genteel appeal
Designers Park Bo-hyun, 28, and Hwang Eun-ji, 28, spin out nude-and-blush concoctions for their pared-down yet feminine house label “be” (short for “born to enable”).
“Our concept is to create neo-romantic clothes that also incorporate modernism,” says Park, who revealed that their brand can also be found in Singapore and Japan.
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Park’s and Hwang’s girlish tomboy aesthetic is best manifested in their comfy-looking, Grecian-draped dresses and slightly crinkled boyfriend jackets.
Part-time employee Lee Min-yong, 23, rocked a white sheath dress that recently got screen time on a cable television show a couple of months ago.
“Lots of people called and asked about this dress,” she says.
T-shirts cost around ₩25,000, dresses from the ₩80,000 to the low-₩100,000 range and jackets from the ₩150,000 to ₩180,000 range.
Dooche, B1, Shop #405, +82 2 3398 4404, www.about-be.com
SOHO -- Wallet-friendly womenswear with an attitude
Dressing for the day can be a challenge and SOHO understands the panic women face when they rummage through their closets every morning for something fashionable yet comfortable.
Culling from Korean designers, SOHO stocks everything from vivid dresses with cut-out backs that can be concealed by a blazer and whipped off for a night-on-town to well-tailored vests and slouchy windbreaker-inspired, silken-textured jackets.
“We are not totally feminine,” said manager Ha Jin-chul, 27, who pulled a sharp gray vest from the rack and explained that their shop also incorporates a “boyish and minimal” vibe.
Prices for clothes start from around ₩10,000 to the mid-to-high ₩100,000 range.
Young Career, 2/F, Shop #29, +82 2 3398 5203
All boutiques are located in Doosan Tower, 18-12 Euljiro 6-ga, Jung-gu (중구 을지로6가 18-12 두산타워); +82 2 3398 3034, www.doota.com; Dongdaemun Subway Station Line 4, Exit 8; Open Tuesday - Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Monday 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.