Warning: Photo Heavy
We went to Seoul on a whirlwind trip for a friend’s wedding last year, and I managed to squeeze in some fabric shopping time while we were in the city. I could only pick one location to go, and doing my research on the interwebs indicate that the Dongdaemun Fabric Market (I found these sites useful: , Marie’s , and Korea 4 Expats might be the best bet, so we went there! Adeline’s)
Here are some of my long-overdue notes and photos of my adventure.
To get there, take the train to Dongdaemun Station (Stop 421). The word Dongdaemun means “East Gate”, and yep there is the landmark East Gate of Seoul (also known as Heunginjimun). The shopping/fabric complex is across the street from the Gate. Just follow the signs to the exit.
I walked to the street across the East Gate (on left of the pic). The fabric/shopping complex is on the right of the pic, behind the building with the yellow top.
The different “Dongs” (wings), A, B, C, N are all connected. Each wing has several floors. The complex sells everything from fabrics, tools, notions, motifs and traditional korean costume (Hanbok) materials, curtains, jewellery making materials, bedding etc. Fabrics are on every wing. It gets a bit confusing! In the end we just walked around whichever way took our fancy. Note the food court on Level 5 of Wing “N” (never forget the food when fabric shopping – it’s tiring!)
I went on Saturday late morning (about 11am). A lot of the shops weren’t open, although the official hours of the complex is Mon-Sat 8am-6pm. Each store is an individual vendor and thus have their own opening/closing times.
So the complex is like a series of mazes made up by many small stores. Many times I don’t even know which floor or wing we were in. The green hanging store signs were handy tho – at least it tells you which wing you’re in.
A lot of the shops have samples of clothes made of their fabrics, and swatches of fabrics, but you can’t buy them off the bolt.
I had a quick look through the swatches, but essentially I was only interested in buying fabric off the bolt. Just have to walk around, and if you see bolts of fabrics, they will sell to you!
Communication in English was rather difficult, but the people were very helpful and nice. One lady even insisted on putting anti-static spray between my dress and stockings (the first thing she noticed about me was my dress clinging to my legs!), and let me play vendor in her shop and take photos.
I think there is a system to the location of shops – there seem to be a lace area, cotton area, general (polyester?) area, jersey/knits area, and a Hanbok material area. However, many of the shops were closed when I was there and we were short on time, so I didn’t take time to analyse.
At 1pm, many shops were still closed – not sure what was going on. Maybe it’s lunch time? Although a lot of them get food delievered and eat inside the shop instead of closing up for lunch.
The area where they sell a lot of cottons. Looking back at photos, it’s C wing, and not sure which level. Or maybe there’s cotton in every wing and every floor?
Some ready-cut and off the bolt cottons.
Hanbok material and trims.
Shop (quite a few of them) selling Jewellery-making components, charms, beads etc.
Area where they sell lots of trims, cords, ribbons and lace appliques.
And I finally went to area where they sell embroidered organza/tulle!
This fabric is everywhere on Instagram – I bought some too.
I was so happy they can sell off the bolt (limited amount) – they cut if for me right there in the tiny shop.
The fabrics I bought were about 6000-18000 kwon/yard. Clockwise from left: embroidered floral tulle, grey jersey, blue polyester and pink silk.
Such an experience in a few short hours! Many thanks to hubby who had lots of patience, a great sense of direction and also constantly reminded me of my budget :P
I also made a dress and wore it to Seoul – see here.