When I first arrived in Asia I was excited at the opportunity to be close to Japan and the prospect to further explore and satisfy my interest in Japanese premium raw and selvedge denim, but was unsure of what I would be able to find in Seoul. My first month in the city was disappointing from a denim perspective, brands like Nudie, APC, and others were available everywhere (albeit overpriced) but nothing that I couldn’t easily find in Canada. Finally one day, while exploring the outskirts of Hongdae, I stumbled upon a hidden away menswear store with focus on premium denim.
As I decided I was going to start attempting to document my findings in the vast city of Seoul, I knew that I wanted my first subject to be that said menswear shop. Situated a short walk away from the main drag in Hongdae, on the second floor of an unassuming apartment building is Mode Man; opened in 2007 as a shop specializing in imported menswear from Japan. Mode Man owner Daesung Shin has since focused the stores attention on premium denim, more specifically raw and selvedge denim, most of which originates in Japan (often credited as producing the worlds highest quality denim).
If you are not knowledgeable on the subject of raw denim, there is a vast amount of information available on the subject that I could not compete with in this blog post, but in short, raw denim comes from the mill to your hands relatively unharmed and untreated. This is in contrast to many jeans today that are sold pre-washed and pre-distressed with little room for individuality. The idea of raw denim to most people who buy into the ideology is rooted in two main principles: an appreciation for old world quality and manufacturing techniques, as well as the desire to have a pair of jeans unique to the individual.
Daesung and his staff are all self described ”denim maniacs”, and are as knowledgeable and passionate about the craft as anyone you will meet. Mode Man carries only the best brands from around the globe, that utilize the best materials and construction methods available to denim today. From Canadian denim staple Naked & Famous to somewhat harder to find Japanese brands such as Pure Blue Japan and Momotaro. If you are a denim head from the western world, direct access to these Japanese brands is a dream come true, and you will be happy to hear that the staff will gladly allow you to try on every pair of jeans in the store, a kindness I am sorry to say I took full advantage of before deciding on my most recent denim purchase. With a wide range of brands, styles, fits, and sizes at varying price points combined with excellent customer service I am confident that you will find it extremely difficult to leave Mode Man empty handed.
The shop itself is quiet and welcoming, though first timers may have a hard time finding the location and feel awkward opening the almost unmarked door on the 2nd floor of the building. The presentation of the clothing is very well done and simple, allowing the denim itself to do most of the talking. Daesung speaks very good English, and as previously mentioned is extremely knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to picking out a pair of jeans best suited for the individual. Prices are on point considering import costs on some of the American brands, with the cheapest jeans coming in at around 139만원 for a medium weight Japanese raw selvedge jean, and topping out at around 300만원 for a beautiful pair of Flathead’s in a heavier weight.
Stores like Mode Man can be a bit of an oddity in Seoul, a humble store privately owned by someone who is passionate about their trade and puts a huge emphasis on customer satisfaction.This is honestly what inspired me to start this blog, Mode Man and other entrepreneurial and creative ventures like it deserve more attention in a city overfilled with H&M’s and Zara’s on every corner, and I hope you give it your attention as well, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.
See www.Mode-Man.com for directions to the store, brand list, and an online shop if you’re outside of Seoul!
Address: 2nd Floor, 567-34 Beonji, Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-Gu, Seoul
Header image courtesy of Mode-Man.com, special thanks to Daesung Shin and staff.