Mad Hatter, your heart’s desires might just cap a Seoul display“All hats are unique and each creation carries a story like a tale for children,” says Choi Hye Jung, the creator and owner of Comble, a hat shop near Hongik University.
From casual to sophisticated, handmade hats cover the shelves and walls of the shop. Materials such as velour, felt, feathers, pearls, lace, ribbon, straw and wool are used to create unique items.
Ms. Choi’s autumn collection is dominated by browns, ambers, grays and dark blues. The hat shapes are definitely European ― particularly French ― but the fabrics are Asian-inspired.
And if Ms. Choi’s designs are not exactly what you are looking for, Comble also takes custom orders. Clients choose the materials, style ― everything about the hat. For more basic designs, Ms. Choi says the custom hat can be delivered in a few days; more complicated hats can take three to four months. Prices for all of the hats range from 60,000 won ($52) to 300,000 won.
Most Comble patrons are artists or performers who want to express their personalities with THE hat. But Ms. Choi sees hats becoming more popular as mainstream fashion. Although the cost of well-made hats and other accessories is relatively high, they are winning converts. Comble also sells handmade gloves and scarves.
One thing that keeps hats from gaining wide popularity, Ms. Choi says, is Korean culture: “When Koreans go out to eat, they usually take off their shoes. Hats should come off as well. A Korean woman does not want to take off her hat and expose her messy hair.”
As Koreans start to open themselves more to other ways of thinking, they have come to welcome more creativity and fantasy in their lives. Ms. Choi says that trend will eventually make hats an everyday accessory.
Theme: Hat shop
Location: Take road across from main gate of Hongik University, shop is on the left
Telephone: (02) 334 8341
Hours: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday
by Anne Lajoye