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Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone

Overview of Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone

Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone (also known as “Dongdaemun Fashion Town”), designated as a special tourist zone by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on May 23, 2002, is the largest fashion industrial complex in the world, boasting 31 large commercial buildings and shopping malls, traditional and modern mixed, and over 30,000 stores and 150,000 fashion workers. 

Dongdaemun Fashion Town is the first of the six special tourist zones in Seoul. Being the largest and most popular fashion industrial complex in Korea, its daily floating population is approximately 700,000, and over 2.5 million foreign tourists visit the Dongdaemun Fashion Town annually. Its total daily sales easily exceed KRW 50 billion. In addition, as the base for exports to all over the world including China, Japan, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, Dongdaemun Fashion Town is a global fashion shopping district and tourist attraction that attracts 8 million tourists, retailers and buyers a year.

The techniques and experiences of the masters of sewing, patterns and other stages of production in Shindang-dong and Changshin-dong are combined with the efforts of the Dongdaemun merchants to develop new and better fabric, and the great sense of the designers to maintain and further the reputation of the Dongdaemun Fashion Town.

In the beginning, Dongdaemun Fashion Town was famous for its ability to promptly supply products reflecting the latest trends in the conditions required by customers and for its full opening through the night. Today, as an important supplier and player in the online fashion market, Dongdaemun Fashion Town is preparing to become the center of the upcoming U-Commerce to take on various roles suitable for the smart era amid rapid changes in the distribution environment.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), opened in 2014, is a multicultural space where a variety of cultural events, such as exhibitions, fashion shows, new product presentations, seminars and conferences, are held. DDP is the place where new design trends are emerging in the mixture of numerous cultures. It is always the first one to present new products and fashion trends to the world, and its beautiful fashion exhibitions offer opportunities for sharing of knowledge and first-hand experience of various designs. These activities are helping DDP play the role of a “source of fashion design” for Asia and for the world.

Attraction of Investment through Establishment of Online Platform

Sinsang Market, a B2B fashion commerce platform that connects wholesalers to retailers, has recorded a cumulative transaction amount of KRW 1 trillion since the beginning of its operation in July of 2013, and the numbers of wholesalers and retailers registered with the platform have increased to about 12,000 and 132,000, respectively, as of March of 2020. Investment in B2B fashion platforms has also been active, with Sinsang Market attracting KRW 16 billion in series-B investment in March of 2019, and KRW 25.5 billion from NAVER. Branch, a fashion shopping application, has attracted a cumulative investment amount of KRW 35 billion, including an investment of KRW 21 billion in April of 2020. Brandy and Helpy, which are fulfillment services dedicated to Dongdaemun, are also currently in operation.

As demonstrated above, the fashion platform is attracting customers with large-scale infrastructure investment and marketing through investment attraction. In fact, the existing Dongdaemun ecosystem is rapidly changing from an offline-based ecosystem to an online platform-oriented ecosystem. Platforms linked to Chinese platforms have recently emerged and been developed, signaling the possibility of a new global platform ecosystem.

Dongdaemun is now facing the greatest change ever triggered by the change to a fashion ecosystem based on online and mobile platforms and the change of the competitiveness of the Dongdaemun fashion ecosystem in the global market. There is a plan to link Weegle to the payment platform of payment gateway to make it easier for the Dongdaemun Fashion Town to enter the global market and for foreign investors to make investments.

By Jinyoung Lee

Executive Consultant 

Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)

Source: Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Seoul Metropolitan Government; Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone Committee; Daily News

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