If you follow the fashion signs, you'll never get there

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If you follow the fashion signs, you'll never get there

Hee, a fashion boutique with nary a sign, lures customers trolling Myeongdong -- especially those with "style eyes."

Lee So-young, one of the store's three owners, says Hee is packed by regulars, curiosity seekers and Japanese tourists.

It's easy to see why. The walls, corners and display tables are full of exotic curios. But look closely and you'll see just three brands: Hongjo, Saekgyeong and SM.

On one wall are dark clothes inspired by Asian robes. They're Hongjo ware, designed by Ms. Lee and Yun Hyun-taek. They're produced in limited quantities.

"We don't have set plans," Ms. Lee says. "We just make whatever we feel like as we go along."

Ms. Lee and Ms. Yun use whatever they find interesting, mostly Korean silks and imported fabric. Their steady sellers are a padded silk skirt (68,000 won or $60) and a long Chinese robe (238,000 won).

Their partner, Won Ju-gyeong, is behind the Saekgyeong accessories brand. Saekyeong means "mirror" in old Korean. Its top seller: macrame necklaces (12,000-18,000 won).

Beaded bags and snakeskin baguette bags with the Saekgyeong label cost between 57,000 won and 68,000 won.

The third line at Hee, SM, is named for the initials of the shop's owners, Park Shin-hee and her friend Kim Mi-song.

Ms. Lee says that the Japanese look for "unique" items -- such as easy-to-wear T-shirts, vintage-inspired products, handmade accessories and handbags -- is in style these days.

Over the past six months, four other branches of Hee have opened in Seoul, in Daehyeon-dong, Samcheong-dong, Bulgwang-dong and Apgujeong-dong.

Hee's designers welcome women who can wear their items "creatively." And they secretly sneer at the rest. "We hate women who ask how to mix and match our designs," says Ms. Lee.

by Ines Cho
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