SEOUL — The Dongdaemun night market — a district of buildings here that sells goods well into the wee hours — has begun shilling the unexpected.
Market buildings like Doota and Migliore are venerable mazes of trendy clothes offered at a cheap-fix price. Other buildings wholesale designs as well, with buyers pouring into the markets past dusk while inventory workers haul weighty, plastic-wrapped bundles of garments over their shoulders as they arrive straight from factories.
While facsimiles of Gucci’s ruffle dresses and Céline’s shirting are on offer, there are also replicas of logo merchandise for sale.
While a visit to Dongdaemun in past years may have yielded copies of megabrands with particular resonance in Asia — Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Christian Dior included — these labels are no longer the market’s sole focus.
Now smaller, high-fashion labels are subject to imitation as well — as evidenced during a visit by WWD this week. At buildings like Maxtyle and Pyeonghwa Fashion Town, T-shirts and accessories bearing the names of Marques’ Almeida, Marni, Margaret Howell, Rochas, Acne Studios, Philipp Plein, Off-White and the skate brand Palace were spotted on racks. Most designs are priced under 50,000 Korean won, or about $44.
Some copies, like those of Off-White, take care to replicate the brand’s logo design. Others seem to set aside logos’ idiosyncrasies to solely focus on a brand’s name. A “Marni” sweatshirt spelled out the brand’s name in condensed, straightforward Helvetica lettering — reminiscent of Apple’s logo type font.
Dongdaemun is regarded as an important place to witness the quick-change attitude of Korean fashion trends. Observers tell WWD that just a month ago, the market was flush with designs imitating the elite Bohemian attitude of Alessandro Michele’s Gucci collections. On WWD’s visit, the Gucci aesthetic was only visible in small doses — a red-and-green ribbon here, a ruffled polo dress there.
In their place were designs reminiscent of the Off-White, Balenciaga and Vetements collections.
Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” T-shirt appears to have struck particular resonance — with copies spotted at most stalls. The style is a hot topic in Seoul amongst the fashion-conscious. A cultural revolution has begun here, with women flouting long-standing societal constrictions by charting careers and independence.
Handbag designs continued to emulate pieces by Fendi, Dior and Prada. Counterfeits of Prada’s signature triangle tag feature the word “pretty” in the brand name’s place.
New popular handbag styles being copied included Azzedine Alaïa’s perforated bag designs, Balenciaga’s market totes and Stella McCartney’s chain-trim hobo satchels.