Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Men's Fashion Edition

One thing that I love about Korea is the fashion. I can't claim to have any good fashion sense, since I spent a good part of my life wearing flannel shirts, but these days I love going to department stores and seeing what is available. Korean men's fashion ranges from being awesome to silly. The silliest Korean fashion that I can remember in recent history were these horrible bow ties. I don't know what the things were called, but they were all of the rage in 2007-2008, and then they just kind of disappeared, thankfully, people really looked silly in them.

Around 2005-2006, I remember kids trying to look all emo with black and white stripey shirt and black vest combos. People at least looked okay in those outfits, but the sheer numbers of people dressed like that was discouraging.
I also don't really like brands like "Bean Pole," or "Polham." To me this represents Korean boredom clothes. Kind of like Abercrombie and Fitch in America. I remember being in high school and seeing people wear Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts and thinking that those people were shilling for corporate masters. Besides that, Abercrombie, Jeans are okay, but also back in those days I remember people wearing Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein stuff, that simply had the name of the designer all over the place like on t-shirts or something. In full disclosure I have grown to like Calvin Klein stuff, but not gawd awful gray T-shirts that have big C.K.s on them, I'm talking about other stuff. I have a pretty cool corduroy Calvin Klein Jacket, a Swiss made Calvin Klein wrist watch, and a winter Jacket. I prize all of those garments.
Korea has it's own high end brands that are pretty dope though. Last year I got married. My mother in law gave my wife a whole bunch of money to make me look good. The result of this money was a Renoma suit.
In Jinju, we have a Galeria department store. For the longest time I had my eye on the corner "Renoma," shop, because all of their clothes looked pretty sharp. About a week before we finally went to the Renoma shop, we went to the "Cambridge," shop on the same floor as the Renoma shop.
The Cambridge Members Disaster

Sometimes Korean shop salesmen can be a little high pressure. I have found this to be the case when the workers work at a place that has boring clothes. The suits at Cambridge Members are okay, but they aren't anything special, and I wanted something special because I was getting married.
I tend to shop quickly. I look at clothes quickly but carefully and make decisions about stores and clothes based on certain criteria and I move on quickly. I either like things or don't like things. Sometimes, sales people follow me around, and even stand between myself and the rack of clothes that I'm looking at so I can't see touch the products. Sometimes they even pick up something that I have absolutely no desire of purchasing. I have to shake these people off and emphatically say "no," to what they are showing me. Not only is it annoying, but it distracts me from actually finding something that I want. One time I was trying to buy a neck tie, and the woman was holding up all of these pink and purple monstrosities that I wouldn't buy in a million years, she was getting in the way, making it hard for me to look for myself.
But the Cambridge members incident took this type of behavior to a whole new level. One of the biggest problems was that my wife was with me, and she wouldn't let me just walk away, but I'm not going to blame her for this, most of the blame was with the salesman.
So we showed up at Cambridge members, and were quickly entreated to celebrity treatment. The salesman gave us a lecture about the different suit characteristics, like weather or not the jacket had one slit in the back or two. He told us his life story about how he was a suit salesman in Seoul and about how he really knew about suits. I ended up trying on three or four different suits, none of them I wanted. I started getting angry because I didn't want anything that they were throwing at me. All of the suits looked the same, except they were different colors. I tried to make it clear that I didn't want anything. I spent about 30 minutes there, 28 of which were wasted because I knew after 2 that I didn't want anything there, but the guy kept on insisting that I try stuff on. Finally, I guess my wife sensed that I was near the tipping point and we ended up leaving.

A week later we ended up at the Renoma shop finally. I tried on one or two suits. They were so slick that there wasn't much hesitation in buying a nice one button black suit. The thing made me look thin. Very nice, very Templeton Peck. A friend of mine remarked about how his Korean in laws got him a Renoma Jacket for his wedding gift. He said that he felt like a Chaebol heir. When I wear my Renoma, I feel like can stop international madmen from taking over the world with some kind of hair brained scheme. The problem with Renoma is the price. A simple button up shirt can run about 110,000 won. Ties can be as much as 80,000 won. A full suit is around 600,000. The quality is definitely on a different level though. The clothes look like they cost that much.

Custom Ellow
Custom Ellow is an interesting brand owned by the Kolon group. Don't be intimidated by the website. The clothes are quite nice. I have this jacket:Now, yes this guy does look a bit like he got all dressed up to go play star craft with his male friends, and he may even enjoy spending hours taking pictures of himself with his phone, but the point is the jacket. To his left hand side, there is one breast pocket that has something like a pocket square. Except it isn't a pocket square, it is a little envelope that can hold a pair of glasses or sunglasses. Pretty geek sheik if you ask me. Another thing that drew me to the jacket was the brown buttons. I thought that that accent made the Jacket suitable for activities like sailing, or just standing on boats looking rich. Once again though, I recommend going straight to the department store and not looking at the website. The clothes look great in the department store.

My only problem with some of the clothing is that it isn't very comfortable. The shoulders are a tad restricted, but the garments are all adjustable. I bought this particular item in the Lotte department store in Busan at Centum City. The guys took some measurements, placed an order and then mailed me the altered garment after a few days. Pretty sweet.

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