If you truly want to dress like a Korean, you are going to need to shop in the right places. These three Korean clothing apps are some of the most popular shopping platforms for the country’s trendy youth. Whether you’re looking to purchase from up-and-coming domestic brands or just searching for inspiration.
Popularity of Online Shopping
Over the past several years, Korea underwent a sudden transformation. Korea incorporated technology into every aspect of life. Now, the preferred method for purchasing anything and everything is on various applications. From groceries and clothes to even furniture and electronics virtually anything can be purchased online and delivered the next morning.
Like the majority of people living in Korea, I use Coupang to buy groceries almost exclusively now. So, you can say I’m as savvy an Internet shopper as any. However, the real place I spend most of my money has to be on fashion platforms.
As someone who truly loves clothes and shopping, trust me when I say that the selection online is unbeatable! If you’ve ever enjoyed wandering through Hongdae and Myeongdong looking for Korean-style clothes, you might feel ecstatic over the wider world that exists on Korean clothing apps. It’s safe to say that I haven’t shopped at a physical clothing store in over a year now.
Korean Clothing Apps: Clothing Origins
The basis of the Internet fashion shopping scene in Korea lies in ‘shopping malls’ (쇼핑몰). Not to be confused with large buildings that house physical stores(백화점), the term ‘shopping mall’ here essentially refers to an individual website where clothes are available for sale. Shopping malls are typically seen as being similar to a brand, with their own style. Many shopping malls have very niche tastes, so it’s not uncommon for shoppers to find their favorites and keep buying from the same ones.
Most people who know something about Korean fashion will have probably heard of Stylenanda or Chuu. Both brands started as humble shopping malls and then grew massively to what they are today. Mostly, due to their continued success with their niche audiences.
Shopping malls traditionally sell pieces sourced from Dongdaemun, Korea’s largest fashion district. This means that they curate pieces instead of manufacturing new ones themselves. In recent years, however, it isn’t rare to see clothes exclusively designed by these malls for sale online, which have lent a specific edge to the industry.
Besides that, there are designer brands, which often operate on a seasonal basis. Designer brands are more likely to have brick-and-mortar stores than shopping malls. Designer brands design all their offerings from scratch and often sell at a higher price point than clothes from their shopping mall counterparts. The price point is often well deserved, as they are normally better quality items. Some brands that may be familiar are Ader Error and Kirsh.
Korea isn’t known for fashion for no reason. There is so much variety in terms of style and price point. Here I’ll introduce Korea’s top 3 online fashion platforms, all with their own advantages and purposes.
One of the pioneers in the Korean fashion platform scene, Zigzag is a mobile app that allows users to access and compare clothing from many different shopping malls. One of Zigzag’s biggest functions is that it provides a search engine tool that shows users pieces they might be interested in based on the keywords. Results come from every shopping mall in their database, which is extensive. Paired with the ability to filter searches (by color, price point and size), Zigzag makes online shopping so much more convenient and stress-free.
If you’ve ever paid for something online just to find the same product somewhere else for a distinctly cheaper price, Zigzag can save you from making that mistake again. They really make price comparisons so much easier.
Zigzag also enables users to pay for purchases made at different ‘malls’ all at once, saving shoppers the hassle of having to make purchases at each individual website. Zigzag also gives out coupons and discounts frequently. So, if something is outside of your price point, you can always take advantage of discounts if you are willing to wait.
Korean clothing apps Ably and Brandi also operate similarly, with the only difference being the range of shopping malls available. Zigzag has a wider choice and carries more of my favorite malls, which is why I prefer it. However Ably and Brandi are also great options! If you find that Zigzag doesn’t match your personal style, check them out.
Additionally, if you are plus size, Zigzag does include multiple plus size shopping malls. They even have a separate tab for those in a larger size range.
W Concept is where you will find a large selection of designer brands. Due to the difference in price point between Zigzag and W Concept, W Concept is usually more favored by office workers. It is most commonly used by people in their late twenties and thirties.
The difference between the target users of Zigzag and W Concept also means that the style of clothes commonly available differs. W Concept is trendy but sophisticated and elegant. Designs come in softer colors that are more appropriate for the workplace. And so, if you are looking for professional clothing in Korea, this Korean clothing app should top your list.
Due to the nature of designer brands that sell exclusive designs, W Concept’s built-in search engine doesn’t work nearly as well as Zigzag’s. However, unlike Zigzag, you will not find multiples of the same product. Narrowing options down through filters is generally more effective than the search box.
Besides clothing, you may also find lifestyle goods and beauty products on W Concept. As a result, you can enjoy the advantage of being able to put everything you want into your cart and checkout at once. It saves so much time!
Online platforms 29cm and EQL are also similar to W Concept. However, the styles differ. And so, I recommend shopping around to choose your favorite. All three platforms are available on both mobile and PC, enabling you to browse around and just download the Korean clothing app of your choice.
Musinsa is a bit of a dark horse here – it carries designer brands of a much different kind. Where W Concept’s offerings have an overall air of elegance, Musinsa is better known for carrying Korean streetwear brands, such as thisisneverthat or LMC. They do also offer a fair share of fuss-free, quality clothing and many kinds of brands. Their options include a few brands that are playful ones for women, as well as many gender-neutral and more masculine options. As a result, Musinsa is most popular among teenagers and men.
The easy street style preferred by teenagers going to and from school is widely available here in multiple reiterations. This makes it the top shopping platform for those who prefer casual styles. Musinsa carries more than 5,000 brands, including not only local brands, but foreign street and sporty casual brands like Adidas and Fila too.
Everything on Musinsa is free of delivery charges. And so, it’s become one of my preferred platforms to shop at – if something is available on multiple platforms I tend to make my purchase here. They also offer coupons and loyalty discounts regularly. This allows their customers to purchase products at slightly better prices than their competitors.
Musinsa is available both on mobile and PC, and also operates out of a physical store in Hongdae.
Want to check out more Korean fashion apps? Click Here to read about 29cm and Hago!