Happy Monday! This will be the first of many post regarding Seoul as I’ll be putting up some posts regarding places to go and things to look out for especially when travelling with a toddler. I started the Around the World fabric series for a while now to document all these fabric places I’ve been to whenever I travel. Part of the fun is researching these places and eventually making it there and immersing myself in what the place has to offer and its culture.
In all the places I’ve been to, Seoul has one of the biggest fabric market. The fabric market which is located in Dongdaemum is a huge complex that spans over 5 stories with approx. 5 different zones which easily hundreds of fabric shops. The first time I knew of this market was through Project Runway Korea and I remembered telling myself I ought to make it there and see this awesome place for myself.
I knew I couldn’t comb all 5 levels of the complex, especially not with a toddler. So, I zoomed right to level 3, 4 and 5 where all the fabrics for garments were at.
Level 1 – Bedding, lace and various fabrics
Level 2 – Cotton fabrics, various fabrics and hanbok fabrics
Level 3 – Cotton fabrics, various fabrics
Level 4 – Cotton fabrics, various fabrics
Level 5 – Accessories, ribbons, notions and craft materials.
The thing about Seoul’s fabric market, alike some shops in Hong Kong was that almost 80% of the shops were displaying racks and racks of swatches. I was told that you can pick up any swatch you like and if you found any fabric you fancy, you can make an order with the shop owners. As this is a wholesale market, there is a minimum yardage you need to buy. And because they do not have ready stock in their shop, they will have to get it delivered and you will have to pick it up again. Although some said that if you were going to purchase in a large bulk, they could arrange for the fabrics to be sent to where you were staying.
I didn’t have the luxury of ordering and collecting it again on another day, so while it was good fun collecting swatches and being nosey in people watching and observing what people are buying – some with sketch books, some were matching patterns to fabrics, some had big bags of swatches and some were negotiating a purchase, I could purchase some of these really pretty fabrics.
So for people who are like me, fret not, there are some shops (although not many) that has ready stocks that allow you to purchase them on the spot. Some shops have a minimum yardage of approx. 3 yards and some do not. I was in luck to chance upon this shop that sells cotton fabrics with unique prints at about SGD$6. They also didn’t have a minimum yardage so I was free to decide. I did get some extra prints and I might upload it on Apricot Fabrics so that like-minded friends can get their hands on some of these fabrics. I was also please to know that the fabrics were made in Korea.
There was some language barrier as most could only speak Korean and I don’t. So it was a little tough if you wanted to enquire about the substrates and what the fabrics were good for. And while some shop owners weren’t extremely warm, some of them were really friendly and I suppose there is nothing a calculator and body language can’t solve. So I’ll say be forthcoming and look out for cues and you should be fine. Alternatively if you could get a local guide to bring you, it will of course be the best option.
Some final tips from me:
1) Be prepared to spend a couple if not about half a day in this place.
2) Bring cash, as most shops do not accept credit cards.
3) Don’t be hasty and get the first fabric in the first shop that catches your eye, chance is you might find another shop that sells the fabric at a cheaper price.
4) Take note of the section and unit number if you intend to revisit the shop as it’s a maze in there and you could get lost (I definitely did).
That’s it! I hope you have as much fun as me at the fabric market.
Getting there: Metro Station Dongdaemum Line 1 and Line 4, Stops 128 and 421. Exits 8 and 9. Directly across from the actual Dongdaemum (East Gate) and right across the Cheonggycheong bridge from the Doota store.
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm, close on Sunday.
For more Around the World fabric post, you can find them here.