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The ‘Gentle Monster’ of Korea’s Fashion Scene

Shopping in Seoul offers a lesson in the diversity and complexity of the Korean culture that straddles traditional values and beliefs with modern commercialism and practices. There’s the low hanging, plastic tarp ceilings of the traditional street markets, where the smell of food being sold along narrow aisles wafts as you walk and old shops line the corridors selling random products or fresh produce like fish and fruit. There’s the cobble-stone, modern walkways of other ‘markets’ where name brand shops have staked their claim and the only interruption to the flow of the crowds walking is the centre lane of food stalls. And then there are the shopping centres and popular districts, like Gangnam, where designer brands aren’t just a luxury, they are a necessity.

Shopping In Seoul A Draw For Tourism

shopping in korea

Seoul is essentially a large playground for shoppers and tourists alike, looking for anything from designer brands to underground (literally, underground at almost every subway station) bargain shops. Tourism is booming here, and much of it revolves around the accessibility to products and brands people in neighbouring countries, just have to have. In fact, South Korea is now the top destination for Chinese tourists, now the largest body of tourists world-wide, who are drawn here for the luxury items they can find.

One such luxury item is the brand of sunglasses, Gentle Monster. This South Korean sunglasses company is a pride of the country and has taken the fashion industry by storm in just three years, breaking onto the European fashion scene and making its way to shield the eyes of celebrities world-wide. In fact, it was a K-Drama actress that made this brand so notable when she chose to wear several of their sunglasses onscreen. Immediately fans of this popular show in Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Singapore hurried to make Gentle Monster sunglasses a part of their own fashion statement.

Gentle Monster Blends Art with Commercialism

thin framed gentle monster sunglasses

We’ll be honest, we hadn’t heard of this brand but as we walked through the trendy, hipster-esque streets of Garosu-gil, we were told by our friend, and impromptu-guide, of their popularity and some of the unique aspects of the company – like their business model of “innovative experiment” and their attention to their showrooms and displays. It should also be noted that their prices are considered more ‘reasonable’ by some as you can find a pair of these trendy, vintage-inspired modern shades for as low as 200,000 won ($170 USD). Not what we would consider cheap, but what most who are looking for designer brands would call affordable.

While in Seoul, you may look to find a tourist-worthy destination like an art gallery or museum and you may also look to do some shopping. At the showrooms for Gentle Monster, you can do both. We stopped by the Sinsa-dong location and got much more than we expected when we were told we’d be visiting the showroom for a brand of designer sunglasses!

If you’re in Seoul, a visit to one, or more, of these showrooms is a unique experience offering you a journey into the contemporary art scene of Korea and also letting you participate in one of the favourite activities of tourists to Seoul – shopping! Don’t forget to climb to the top-floor-turned-cafe for some refreshments.

 

Pick The Pair Of Sunglasses That You Want By Clicking Them

 

If you’re not into any of the sunglasses above check out more Gentle Monster Sunglasses style=.

 

Gentle Monster Showroom – Home & Recovery

If you can make it to one of the showrooms in Seoul, we highly recommend it though we haven’t decided if it should be considered more than an art gallery or more than a designer store. If Seoul isn’t on your list of next travel destinations, we’ve got you covered with this photo tour of the Sinsa-dong location. The theme is “Home and Recovery” and throughout you’ll see an amazing blend of the artistic with the commercial in the designs of both their showrooms and their sunglasses.

An interesting looking front entrance did nothing to foretell what we would find inside!

Gentle monster home and recovery showroom

Are these what you think they are? Yup! But let’s take a closer look…just in case.

gentle monster first floor showroom

We were a little surprised by the first display of hanging IV bags/lights. Though once we realized the theme of the showroom was ‘Home & Recovery’, things started to make a little more sense!

gentle monster showroom home and recovery

While there’s an explanation of the inspiration for the displays, like any artwork, it leaves everything up for LOTS of interpretation.

The First Floor: A ‘Gentle’ Introduction

gentle monster showroom first floor

gentle monsters first floor

gentle monster first floor clay

gentle monster shoe making room

gentle monster sunglasses Korea

cloth making machine gentle monsters

The Second Floor: Sleeping in Style

gentle monster second floor showroom

A bedroom for sunglasses?

Gentle monster bedroom of sunglasses

 

gentle monster mirror display showroom

stack of chairs in gentle monster showroom

The second floor also had a ‘bright room’ that was so bright, it just wouldn’t photograph, a room of cupboards filled with sunglasses, and a small curtained off area showing a very artistic silent film.

The Third Floor & Fourth Floors: From Vanity Room to Bathroom

Gentle monster 3rd floor showroom

gentle monsters closet showroom

The white made quite a stunning background and display for the various styles of sunglasses and frames.

gentle monster white wall
gentle monster showroom closet

 

gentle monsters sunglasses vanity

This was one of our favourite displays. There was just something about the vanity table and the perfectly suited glasses.

whisky room gentle monsters

What’s a house without a whiskey room? The sunglasses probably come in handy for the morning after!

gentle monsters sunglasses bathroom display

gentle monsters display with scissors

Couldn’t resist trying on at least one pair!!

carolann trying on gentle monster sunglasses


Shop For Gentle Monster Now! Don’t Miss These Great Deals!


Is this a direction more brands should be moving in? Would something like this influence your opinion of a brand and your likelihood of buying the product? Comment below and let us know! Or, if you’ve found a hidden and unexpected gem like this during your travels, let us know about it!

42 replies
  1. Stacey Valle
    Stacey Valle says:

    wow, this is an interesting store for sunglasses! A smart way to attract customers! I absolutely looooove Korean style! I just love their fashion – shoes, sunglasses, clothes, etc. I went to Seoul recently earlier this summer, and I haven’t heard of this place. It would be so cool to check it out 🙂 I was tempted to buy legit sunglasses, but I was on budget. I almost bought the cheaper quality on the street for 10,000 won but forgot about it 🙁 They’re all super cute though!
    Stacey Valle recently posted…Hola Cancun: A Photo DiaryMy Profile

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  2. Meg Jerrard
    Meg Jerrard says:

    Wow this is definitely a unique approach to a showroom! Love it! I would definitely head in to check it out just for the displays, though really $170 USD isn’t that expensive for a designer brand of sunglasses, it’s fairly affordable if that’s what you’re in the market for. Thanks for the highlight, I had no idea that Seoul was one of the world’s upcoming shopping scenes, I’ll be sure to add it to my list!
    Meg Jerrard recently posted…Tips For First Time International Volunteers – Everything You Need to Know Before You GoMy Profile

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  3. Gabby | The Globe Wanderers
    Gabby | The Globe Wanderers says:

    Wow! This place is crazy… It must have been like stepping into a parallel universe! The sunglasses are awesome as well… it did make me a little sad that I have one of those faces that suits only ONE shape of sunglasses and one type only. I look ridiculous in anything else. As much as I love those round ones! Really interest post guys, great photos also! Love weird and wonderful discoveries like this :).

    Gabby
    Gabby | The Globe Wanderers recently posted…10 Underwater Giants to make you wish you got a Bigger BoatMy Profile

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    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      I (Carolann) had to answer this one myself as I know EXACTLY what you mean about only one style of sunglasses suiting you! I have such a hard time because there’s literally one size and shape of glasses that works for my face (and that’s not just me saying that)! 🙂 At least it’s fun to look!

      Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      Tons of street markets and things to see at each one! This store (or it’s other locations) would definitely be worth a stop if you can! It’s in a pretty popular area with lots to see and explore while you’re there!

      Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      There are an ABUNDANCE of places to shop. It’s absolutely packed with stores of all types! This one was definitely art-gallery-meets-showroom and totally meant to standout as, with the millions of shopping options, you’ve got to be unique to grab shoppers’ attention!

      Reply
  4. Gemma Two Scots Abroad
    Gemma Two Scots Abroad says:

    I adore marketing to yes I would be swayed by clever placement. I appreciate window designs etc that have had some thought into them but this takes the biscuit – it is a work of art itself! I am however, the type of person just to go for a look and then actually go shopping in a thrift shop! Such a cheapass. Great post again, I am loving the tales from Asia!
    Gemma Two Scots Abroad recently posted…See Ya Sunshine Coast – POTF #11My Profile

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  5. Tami
    Tami says:

    Wow! All this for sunglasses? Of course, I would probably be influenced somewhat by all the hype. But mostly I would just enjoy taking photos of the exhibits, like you did. I wouldn’t be very likely to buy the sunglasses! (I loved the stack of old chairs!)

    Reply
  6. Lieurene Tran
    Lieurene Tran says:

    I absolutely love Seoul! I love seeing their culture as well as their clothing styles. They do have unique art but I actually had no idea that they had the showroom. I was more focused on street food. If I ever go back, I will definitely keep in mind to check out the showroom as well as other stores.

    Reply
  7. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    This is awesome!! I just became a huge GM fan last year and recently reviewed 4 pairs of their sunglasses on my own blog Cubicle Chic. I also referenced this post, I hope you don’t mind! It’s very informative and definitely lets you know Gentle Monster even better!

    Jessica || Cubicle Chic

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