Friday, May 25, 2018

Treasure Hunting in Daegu’s Thrift Shop District, Gyodong

Treasure Hunting in Daegu’s Thrift Shop District

Before moving to Korea, I was a thrift shop fanatic and I shopped almost exclusively at second hand stores out of a desire to cultivate a totally unique wardrobe and not spend and arm and a leg doing so. I was addicted to the thrill of finding a diamond in the rough, something rare and beautiful waiting for me to come along and discover it. It's really like treasure hunting and something I've always missed from back home. It took a little exploring for me to realize that Daegu has a MASSIVE amount of amazing thrift shops all collected together just outside of Jungangro station. To get there just go out exit three of Jungangro (or exit 13 of Banwoldang works too) and all the clothes shops are thrift and vintage stores. There are literally dozens of these shops, mainly concentrated on this same street but you can also find a few on the parallel street (with the 3-story Daiso and all the jewelry shops) and the connecting perpendicular streets between.

I noticed there's two main types of shop. First is very cheap shops with piles and piles of clothes, often in bags and often with all merchandise under W5,000. Even though the clothes are in bags which require digging through, the clothes are in great condition and many are surprisingly in brand new condition. The other type of shop you will encounter are curated with stylish and posher items and all the garments are hanging on a rack. These fancier shops tended to be a bit pricier as they have higher-end vintage finds. You can even find luxury designer brands; I spotted Dior, YSL, and Missoni in one shop. These designer brands go for more but most of the tops and dresses were W10,000 in these stores.

One strange but wonderful thing I noticed is that a lot of these shops, especially the cheaper and less curated variety I mentioned, had a lot of older garments circa the 1990s and 2000s that were inexplicably unworn. I saw a lot of things easily identifiable as vintage with tags still attached.  I came across so many very cute swimsuits that were clearly never worn (trust me- you can tell).  It's a thrifters dream; amazing retro finds in mint condition. Where did these new-old clothes come from? Many of them had Japanese writing and brands on the tags so maybe there's just warehouses of unsold clothes from the 90s Japan is selling in bulk in Korea. Its a mystery I've not solved but it is very cool to have access to all these vintage fashions from Japan here in Daegu.

Here's a few things to keep in mind for your Treasure Hunt:
Bring cash. These shops are cash only.
Knowing how to ask the price in Korean and what the various answers mean is going to be a major help! These shops are all run by older people who were generally warm to me but didn't speak English.
There are no fitting rooms.
Some of the clothes are not that old, there's a lot of last-years trendy subway shop finds that I try to avoid in favor of higher quality older clothes.
Don't be afraid to dig through big bags to find the good stuff.

And finally, my haul:

I only spent W32,000 on seven pieces. My favorite find was the lime negligee from Japan with the tags still on indicating it was originally sold for an equivalent of W180,000. I found that digging through a bag and paid W4,000! I can't wait to see what I find on my next shopping trip which will definitely be soon.

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