Psy performs in his music video "Gentleman" at the 10 Corso Como shopping center in Cheongdam, southern Seoul.
10 Corso Como Seoul offers fashion and culture in new Gangnam style
By Park Jin-hai
The fashion field hasn't been a traditional playground for the pretty and handsom but Psy has changed it.
The chubby singer, with his signature tuxedo-style blazers, baggy pants and black and white shades, is regarded as a fashion icon in Korea.
With his newly released music video, "Gentleman," seeking to repeat his previous success, "Gangnam Style," much attention is focused on his music video.
That includes an upmarket shopping center, where a crowd of elderly men carrying handfuls of shopping bags followed Psy while he shopped.
The center is "10 Corso Como Seoul," a new concept mall that offers fashion and culture in Cheongdam, southern Seoul.
Figurines designed by boy band TVXQ.
The brainchild of Italian art gallery curator and fashion journalist Carla Sonzzani was created in partnership with Samsung Cheil Industries Inc. in 2008.
"Its repetitive circular patterns and geometric designs were surely an eye-catcher," said a customer, who frequents the store for design objects.
The store's name was translated from a northern Italian street known to locals to sell almost every item.
In addition to its wide selection of items and stylish interior, it recently added another title – as a Mecca of hallyu (the Korean wave).
The store said its inclusion of hallyu is not just because it has celebrity regulars like Psy, who loved the mall so much to include it in his music video, but because it collaborates with celebrities.
A collar designed in collaboration with Girls' Generation. / Courtesy of Cheil Industries
Starting from 2011, when the center launched its first collaboration with Korean boy band Big Bang, the trendy mall has partnered with big name celebrities to produce fashion items.
These include Big Bang designed skull-printed T-shirts, baseball jumpers and smartphone and laptop cases. They even collaborated on how to display the products. The result was an instant success, selling out all items in 15 minutes.
Sozzani recently said she chose Seoul over Tokyo or Hong Kong as the second city to open her flagship store, because she saw the growth potential of its market. She added that her Seoul store has grown into a "center of culture" as well as a "center of design" over five years.
After the initial success of the celebrity-shop collaboration, it launched the perfume brand, "Girl," with Girl's Generation the following year.
"Some tourists, as soon as they step in, ask if we have the collaboration items of their favored stars," said Lee Myung-kyu, a store manager.
This year, in celebration of the store's fifth anniversary, SM Entertainment, a leading K-pop entertainment agency, joined another collaboration.
Five celebrity groups launched items they consider personify them best. TVXQ designed figurines; Super Junior, sunglasses; Girls' Generation, collars; Shinee, cardigans; and f(x) created headsets.
"On weekends tourist buses line up along the street and Japanese and even more Chinese shoppers come in. We witness up close the global reach of the hallyu phenomenon," Lee said.
In addition to collaborations, the center sells celebrity-namesake brands such as the Ko So-young fashion label, in which the actress participated in the design, material selection and production.
It also seeks out leading professionals in the fashion industry and showcases their work. It exhibited work by fashion photographers Paolo Roversi and Peter Lindbergh in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
All these efforts seem to have paid off.
The mall was designated as one of "31 Places to Visit in 2010" and referred to as a hot place to visit in Seoul by the New York Times.
The Financial Times also posted an article on Mar. 30 that Psy's "Gangnam Style" has become a bridge to introduce Korean fashion to the world, stating "10 Corso Como Seoul" is where to find the top Korean fashion brands.
Now the trendy center has been featured in Psy's new video, Seoul is expected to gain a renewed spotlight as a city of fashion.
10 Corso Como Seoul is expected to share that limelight as a Mecca of Korean fashion to the world.