Stepping into the ultimate shopping experiences in Seoul: Beauty and fashion brands add karaoke and cafes to attract customers

Sept 24,2019
Sulwhasoo Flagship Store is not only stocked with the luxury brand’s best selling products, but also offers free services like ginseng cream massages. [AMOREPACIFIC, KYUNGSUB SHIN]
Korean beauty brands and fashion styles today are more accessible than ever as cosmetics conglomerates and local designers continue to expand around the world.

But several brands are still only available in Korea, and their stores offer diverse services and funky interiors that are sure to surprise even the most ardent K-beauty and K-fashion fans. From providing free ginseng cream hand massages to installing karaoke machines, major brands are staying ahead of the game and transforming their stores into exclusive experiences that have become some of Seoul’s biggest tourist attractions.

The Korea JoongAng Daily recently visited some of the trendiest stores around Seoul to try out their unique customer experiences.

Top: Concept stores like Tamburins offer a unique visual experience and are laid out like exhibitions. Above: Innisfree Green Lounge allows visitors to stop by and fix up their makeup. [KIM EUN-JIN, AMOREPACIFIC]
Innisfree and Aritaum Live

The largest cosmetics conglomerate in Korea, Amorepacific, is known for creating some of the most unique beauty stores in the country.

Its Innisfree brand, for example, has recently launched two bold initiatives - Self Store and Green Lounge. At the Self Store, located inside the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), customers can get beauty advice and pay for products using only smart devices. A facial mask vending machine and a tool that assesses the condition of your skin adds to the interactive experience of the store.

The Green Lounge, located at the DDP as well as in front of Chung-Ang University and Kookmin University, is basically a walk-in powder room for anyone who needs a quick touch-up. It’s equipped with not only Innisfree products, but also hair straighteners and brush disinfecting machines for customers to use, no strings attached.

Aritaum Live Gangnam, near Shinnonhyeon Station in southern Seoul, invites professional makeup artists and influencers to the multi-brand store twice a week to give helpful beauty advice to customers. A Styling Bar is staffed with professional stylists who help create the perfect look for visitors upon reservation online. At the Color Mixing Bar, visitors can take home samples of customized lipsticks mixed by staff at the spot, all for free.

Sulwhasoo Flagship Store

For those interested in Korea’s traditional beauty customs, the flagship store of Amorepacific’s luxury brand Sulwhasoo is a must-visit.

Decorated in shimmering gold inside and out, the store is not only stocked with bestsellers like rejuvenating ginseng creams and herbal mask packs, but also exclusive products including plum blossom teas, lip balms and scented candles.

The store’s layout helps customers better comprehend the philosophy and history of the brand, which dates back to the 1960s. Key ingredients of Sulwhasoo products, like green tea and white ginseng, are elegantly displayed in the style of an herbal medicine cabinet. Complementary tea blended by Sulwhasoo is offered, which visitors can take up to the store’s spacious rooftop garden.

The most popular service at the flagship store is the so-called SulWha Danjang, a free program for all female customers that transforms them into royalty by dressing them up in beautiful hanbok, or Korean traditional dress, and matching hair and make-up. Visitors are encouraged to make reservations up to two months ahead of their visit, however, as spots fill up quickly. Other free programs include traditional tea classes, guided store tours as well as skin counselling services and hand and eye massages utilizing Sulwhasoo products. Programs are offered in Korean, English and Chinese.

The Sulwhasoo Flagship Store is located in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, just 10 minutes walking distance from Apgujeongrodeo Station. Call 02-541-9270 or visit sulwhasoo.com

Top: The Dr.Jart+ Filter Space highlights the brand’s natural ingredients. Above: Visitors can decorate their own boxes at Musinsa Terrace. [KIM EUN-JIN]
Dr.Jart+ Filter Space

Science-themed cosmetics brand Dr.Jart+’s Filter Space updates its look to provide fun for visitors year-round.

Currently, the space has a bright green Wonderland theme as tribute to Tiger Grass, one of the key natural ingredients used in many of Dr.Jart+’s products, including its calming creams and serums.

The Filter Space journey begins on the first floor, which is currently decorated as a fuzzy pink carpeted room featuring playful props and even swings. There are plenty of sitting areas to relax, and visitors can also take a short quiz on a tablet to see which Dr.Jart+ product will work best for their skin condition and receive a “life recipe” with the recommendation. A wide selection of the brand’s products is sold on the second floor.

The third floor is the highlight of Filter Space. It’s equipped with karaoke machines that activate with special tokens visitors can get from staff after showing them their life recipes. Refrigerated water bottles are available for singers who get thirsty.

A makeup station with a brightly-lit mirror and smartphone holders helps visitors take the perfect shot. Outside, visitors are encouraged to jump on trampolines to relieve their stress.

The Wonderland theme is set to run through mid-November. Dr. Jart+ Filter Space is located 8 minutes walking distance from Sinsa Station, southern Seoul.

Musinsa Terrace

Musinsa, Korea’s largest online fashion shopping platform, just opened its first offline store this month and there’s plenty to eat, buy and create.

The large venue is divided into four different sections - Lounge, Kitchen, Shop and Park.

The Lounge is equipped with photo zones but left mostly empty to host exhibitions and concerts throughout the year. The Express Workshop and Lab allow visitors to try out silk screen printing and decorate their own canvas bags or parcel boxes to take back home.

The Kitchen serves up special coffee blends brewed by professional baristas. The Shop is stocked with streetwear from Musinsa brands that are specially created for the Terrace, as well as vinyl records. The balcony area, or Park, offers visitors an unhindered view of the city from the 17th floor.

Musinsa Terrace is located right outside of exit 5 at Hongik University Station in western Seoul, on the 17th floor of AK& Hongdae. Visit musinsaterrace.com

Within24 augmented reality technology helps customers try on clothes. [YONHAP]

Curious about all the hype surrounding augmented reality? You can test it out yourself at Within24 by virtually trying on clothes and hairstyles.

Operated by the government-established Korean Fashion Association, this interactive fashion store is decked out with the latest technology, capable of creating virtual 3D avatars. Just stand in front of a full-body screen, and try on pieces from Korea’s rising brands by playing dress-up with an avatar that has the same figure and appearance as you. The store holds samples of the actual clothing that customers can try on physically as well.

The store is named in reference to its promise of delivering purchases within 24 hours of placing an order, but deliveries may take longer if orders include custom requests.

The range of stocked brands and items are updated every season. Right now, Within24 features products from 17 brands including Setsetset and Eunjukoh.

Within24 is located on the second floor of Lotte Fitin, just outside exits 11 and 12 of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station, central Seoul.

Ambitious concepts

Although they may not be as interactive, several concept stores by Korea’s hottest brands offer visitors plenty of eye candy.

Tamburins, the scent and hand cream brand launched by sunglass giant Gentle Monster, has a unique shop in the Garosu-gil neighborhood just outside of Sinsa Station. This aromatic space is reminiscent of an eclectic collector’s mansion, as products are tactfully placed between sculptures and unusual furniture.

Stylenanda’s Pink Hotel in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, showcases the creativity of the beloved fashion and beauty brand purchased by L’Oreal last year. As the name suggests, the entire store has been transformed into a Grand Budapest-style hotel. Each floor is themed on a different hotel amenity - the fourth floor represents the laundry room and the top floors and cafe are designed like a pool, complete with tiled walls and changing rooms that resemble shower booths.

Ader Error’s flagship store in Hongdae is a good place to visit for those interested in casual streetwear and modern art. Selling both men’s and womenswear, the store has the aesthetics of a hip garage but features unique decorations like video art that are constantly updated.

BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]

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