April 20, 2013 08:24
The area surrounding Hongik University in Seoul is emerging as a new fashion and beauty mecca. Traditionally the center of the nation's indie culture and club scene, it now attracts global fashion brands due to its large number of young visitors.
The streets near the university's main gate are lined with global brands such as H&M, Uniqlo and Gap, as well as beauty parlors and stores selling fashion items and cosmetics.
As the area has been bustling with young people who come to have fun at clubs and music halls and see indie bands, cozy restaurants and cafes have sprung up in recent years to accommodate them, and now fashion and beauty brands are following suit.
Rent in the area now matches levels seen in the commercial district near Gangnam Station. The Hongik University area recently saw rent prices rise 69 percent, much higher than the 46 percent recorded in the popular shopping district of Myeong-dong and 10 percent for Gangnam Station.
The average rent reached W63,200 per sq.m a month in the university area in the fourth quarter of last year, according to government data, as high as that in the Gangnam Station area (W63,700) (US$1=W1,116).
An expert pointed out that global fashion brands play a decisive role in hikes as they are willing to pay high rents if they see good business opportunities.
On any given weekday, there are 100,000 people visiting the Hongik University area, and that number doubles on weekends, according to a business research institute. Of them, 60 percent are estimated to be in their 20s or 30s. The area sets itself apart from other student districts as it combines commercial stores with its unique culture, said the institute's head Lee Kyung-hee.
Compared to trendy Cheongdam-dong and Sinsa-dong in southern Seoul, young people feel more comfortable in the Hongik University area due to its liberal atmosphere.
Interest in the neighborhood among global clothing brands really picked up last year, one industry insider said.
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