Color Me Off In A Mall Somewhere….

18 June 2008 at 1:39 pm 1 comment

If American malls were anything like the South Korean malls I visited this spring, I would never leave! I seem to recall other ladies of the fashion blogsphere having the same beef with most malls in America/UK: they seem so… teeny-bopper-y. I do shop at the mall on occasion, maybe three or four times in a year, but the malls I visit don’t feel like they have character. They seem so… indifferent. The Delmar Loop, for example, has such a warm, understanding, thinking, creative feel; if it were a person I think she would be colorful yet put together, a thinking gal who loves records and soy things and is extremely vibrant. Goodwill seems to have the aura of waiting: waiting to strike gold or waiting to make up your mind to move on to another store. If it was a person she would be sitting indian-style on the shoe rack with a smirk on her face because she knows there is a Burberry London shirtdress hanging among the nighties, you just haven’t found it yet. If your favorite vintage dress shop were to be personified, I highly suspect it would result in a bunch of old ladies tittering about whatever it is old ladies titter about, drinking tea and looking excellent in lumpy floral two-piece skirt suits and pillbox hats then peeking out from between the dresses whispering “PSSST! OVER HERE!” so you are the only girl who walks out with that original Coco dress.  Where malls are concerned, it has been my experience that if a mall were a person, she would be an overweight midlife crises yawning behind a desk and answering any and all of your questions with “Don’t ask me, that’s what they made Google for” , or she would be a pretentious and fake midlife crises with a bad dye job and acrylics, boasting about her unique wardrobe that in reality was poorly made, too expensive for the quality and is the same as every woman in the dressing stalls around her.


In Korea, each mall was different. The clothes were inventive, innovative, CUTE. I never saw the same thing twice. The shop designs were incredible, full of color, pattern, art and mood lighting that makes you want to by everything in sight. They’re cozy. Imagine!

Not only that, but around the town one can find predominantly designer malls that are just as pleasant as the “normal” malls. No risk of being chased around by salesgirls on commission, shunned because of your apparent lack of designer duds or being stared down by cocky rich women whilst pushing your baby brother in a stroller and being assumed a single teen mother, tsktsk to you. (I feel you, Mallory! St.  Louisians, you know the mall of which I speak!) Exhibit A: the mall at Samsung Plaza, Bundang.

Look up, and you see gigantic ads for Empirio Armani, Coach and Christian Lacroix, as well as some promising looking labels you have never heard of, your sister tugs your sleeve with glee and you prance around admiring everything in sight.


There is also something to be said for any person, place or thing that can make Juicy Couture appeal to me. Design is golden, mall execs. Maybe you should try a little harder with Sears, HMMM?? If Sears had pink Knights, fainting couches, and deer heads sporting pretty necklaces, maybe teenage girls like me wouldn’t feel so cheap (as in, seedy-cheap) when perusing your racks.

Thus, we progress to a new area in which Korean malls surpass their American counterparts: who ever saw such creative mannequins?

If a mannequins job is to model clothes in a way that people will want them and see themselves living daily life in them, headless Hollister mannequins fail and these guys and girls prevail:

Why don’t we put mustaches on our MANnequins?? Or get more creative with poses?

Or, we could just get more creative in displaying the clothes, period. How about these?

I was blown away by Conflicted Tendency. Their website is every bit as creative and charming as the store, see for yourself! (**Afternote: The site… ironically… is currently down. I’ll post the link as soon as possible!) Other sections of the Samsung mall used space beautifully in giving the clothes the attention they deserve:

(Ah, yes, the Mondrian Dianne von Furstenburg dress that caused such a stir after the passing of YSL. Fashionista flipped but I am quite charmed, myself.)

And, of course, what is an Asian super-mall without a dose of Anna Sui?

Anna’s section of Samsung is right in the middle of the main passing space, delicately and welcomingly set up around merchandise tables with purple velvet benches that invite you to come squeal with delight like the tourist you are at how dahling everything is. An interesting aside is that while in American malls it is hard to find unique pieces such as one would find while thrifting or in an independent boutique, Samsung boasted its fair share of Tantrum-esque finds, each unique and few in kind.


 Finds like this were not exclusive to the swanky malls, though! Exhibit B: Pyong Hwa Fashion Plaza, Seoul.

It is highly possible that what makes the difference between American and Korean “fashion plazas” is that frankly, the clothes are more original and more eye-pleasing. Everyone dresses with taste in Korea.

Tunics, shirtdresses, oversize T’s, and classic cuts coexist marvelously, as do bright colors and patterns and every cream hue imaginable.

Furthermore, creativity in mall design and products does not stop here, no no! Exhibit C: the “Moving Mall” of Bundang…

 (Being a 40-foot bus renovated into a swanky botique with prices high enough to make your nose bleed)

… and the ever-girlie makeup superstore directly behind it.

This is how business is made, people! (Note the doorhandle)


 Shopping? I love it. Here in America? Wonderful thrift in vintage. But if I’m in a mall?

I’ll be off in a mall somewhere… in South Korea.

Entry filed under: color around the world, eaeaKOREA, shopping adventures and escapades.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. queentazo  |  9 July 2008 at 3:08 pm

    i love how you personify your shops…
    and yes i know this mall that you speak of…
    once while i was wearing some torn and faded jeans (my fav pair) i was accused of being a shop-lifter for just LOOKING at merchandise.


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