Cheap Prada lures canny devils on suburban sprees
When the devil wears Prada does she pay full price? The new rule for savvy shopping devils in urban areas is to get Prada on the cheap ― even if they are not the fashion editor of Vogue.
In fact, when it comes to shopping for brand-name goods, Seoul either has too small a range or is too expensive and there is the question of whether any product with a reasonable price is a fake. But there is another option for veteran shoppers, apart from waiting for the Galleria Department Store to have a seasonal sale. They can head out of Seoul to the city’s outskirts and find a unique design that perfectly suits their budget and sense of style.
Korea is full of fashion outlets, big and small, where big name designers sell their products at impressive discounts. They usually offer products from past seasons, but they still perfectly reflect the quality of brands that people know and love. The outlets in and around Seoul offer a diverse and rewarding shopping experience.
This place is the talk of the town for local shoppers who have traveled to Europe and the United States in search of luxury designer brands. The response to Yeoju’s opening last weekend was telling, beginning with the long line of people waiting under the sun outside the Gucci store.
The outlet is the first Korean operation for the Simon Property Group and it is the company’s first joint venture with Shinsegae International, one of the nation’s leading retailers. The outlet, which is located in Yeoju, Gyeonggi, a town that’s about an hour’s drive from downtown Seoul, is the first outlet of its size in Korea to offer luxury designer brands in one spot, complete with a food court and other convenient facilities. The Simon company also has outlets in Los Angeles, Mexico, Japan and New York.
Around 90 percent of the 120 tenants in Yeoju consist of international luxury designer brands including Anna Molinari, St. John, Anna Sui, Burberry, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Hugo Boss. The rest are a collection of high-end local designer brands like Kuho. Just think of the outlet as a cheaper version of a luxury department store in Seoul, but without Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton. On average products are marked down by about 25 to 65 percent. A children’s trench coat at Burberry Kids was on sale for 50,000 won ($55) on the opening day . Sandals and wedge heels at Nine West start at 19,000 won. Weekday mornings are an ideal time to shop ― over 600,000 visitors came to the outlet on Sunday, which is likely to be the busiest time of the week. There are relatively few restaurants for the size of the complex. Additional facilities include a Starbucks, Italian, Japanese and fusion restaurants, wheelchair rentals, a locker service and a shop selling special agricultural and regional products from Yeoju. The surrounding environment is pleasant. The complex is designed in the style of Spanish villas. There are trees and a spacious parking lot that accommodates around 3,000 cars. Bring sunglasses. To visit by car, take the Gyeongbu Expressway. You’ll see the outlet as soon you pass Yeoju IC. The outlet is open from Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. except Chuseok and New Year’s Day. For more information call (031) 880-1234.
2. Ilsan outlet town was originally a series of discount shops offering golf wear for middle-aged men and women and it has gradually developed into an outlet for 400 brands, although sportswear still takes up a large portion of the space. There are brands like Guess, Polo and Calvin Klein offering 40 to 60 percent discounts, although many of the items are from earlier collections.
Friday is the best day to shop, as new products arrive every Thursday and Friday. Women’s suits start at 40,000 won. Products that had been sitting in regular stores for more than six months are usually on sale for an 80 percent discount. If you are not a fast food fan, eat before you visit. Parking is nearby, but there is no subway station. Take advantage of weekday shopping as a way to avoid crowds. To get there, drive to the Kintex IC on the Olympic Highway, past Daehwa Station to the Agricultural Trade Center. Business hours are from 10 to 8 p.m.
3. In the 1980s the Mario Outlet in Gasan-dong was a giant factory compound full of textile companies. Then it was an unpleasant symbol of drudgery with grey smoke belching from factory chimneys. The transformation of the area took place in the 1990s when many companies moved their manufacturing to China, and the remaining ones opened a factory outlet as a way to sell their leftover stocks at giveaway prices. The change produced a great success. Men’s clothes (shirts, suits, pants) and casual sportswear are the main merchandise available at Mario’s, but casual wear for young women is also the outlet’s specialty. Benetton, Ralph Lauren and Banana Republic have stores here offering clothes at wholesale prices. As the number of foreign tourists rose, the outlet also began offering a tax refund system. Typically an 80 percent discount on brand-name clothes is offered at Mario, which is designed as a department store. There is a food court and a children’s playroom. The stores are open from 10:30 a.m. through 8:30 p.m. everyday. Parking is nearby. For more information, check out www.mario.co.kr
5. Jukjeon Fashion Town is a magnet for budget-conscious shoppers who haven’t given up hope that they can find brand-name merchandise at affordable prices. The spacious parking lots turn the outlet into a bustling shopping Mecca on weekends. The complex is made up of over 200 fashion malls in two-to- four-story houses, offering an average discount of 40 to 50 per cent with an additional 20 to 30 percent off in the spring and fall seasons. Ralph Lauren, Sisley and Tommy Hilfiger are some of the signature brands in a town that offers a mix of local and international brands. In “Collected,” there is an imported selection of high end products like Chanel and Gucci. There are restaurants available. Most shops open from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday except New Year’s Day and Chuseok. To get there, head toward the Jukjeon four-way interchange and take Seongnam Boulevard from Ori Station (Bundang line).
By Park Soo-mee Staff Writer [email@example.com]