The real title of this article should be anyone bigger than a US size zero should take a peek at these shops because it is a real struggle to find clothing or shoes here in Korea that fits horizontally or vertically. Why? The dreaded free-size clothing, or one-size-fits-all, does not fit all, and unfortunately, free-size is the standard at almost every single clothing store in Korea. But never fear! Hope is here. Keep scrolling for the handy guide that I’ve compiled to help you navigate shopping for plus-sized clothing in Korea!
Want to know the best neighborhoods to shop in Seoul, Korea? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Shopping in Seoul in 2020. Don’t forget to check out International Clothing Stores in Seoul if you’re looking for familiar brands from back home that you know and love.
Full disclosure: I wouldn’t be considered plus-sized in the USA in my current shape (though I’ve oscillated in the last decade from a US size 16 — yes, you read that right — to a US size 6). I’d like to think I am blessed with the height to always reach the top shelf in grocery store aisles at 5’10ft (176cm) and big feet that plant firmly on the ground (US 10 in shoes or 265 Korean Size). My Korean mother who is half the size of me likes to proudly exclaim, “I gave her a lot of milk!”
Nevertheless, when I first arrived in Korea, hopeful and excited to shop, I was floored by how poorly the clothes fit me. I felt like a giant among lilliputians. So, I did what I often do best: research! Not all Korean women are tiny and slender, so where do they shop? Well, check my shopping list below for the fruits of my store-hunting labor!
What is free-size clothing?
Free size clothing is everywhere in Korea. It’s basically one-size-fits-all clothing made for the average Korean body type. Generally, that size is small or petite. Like most of Asia, fashion sizes conform to the general population which tends to be slim and petite.
The boutiques here often stock ‘free size’ clothing only or won’t stock larger sizes. The international stores also often carry ‘Asian Fit’ (petite sizing) in addition to or in lieu of their standard Western sizing, so it’s best to try on the style if you’re allowed to (not all boutiques have dressing rooms).
Take notice of length, as international stores like Nike often only stock 7/8 length leggings. For reference, I’m a US size 8 with wide hips (176 cm or 5’10 ft tall) and fit an XL legging at the Nike store in Korea whereas I would normally be a medium back home in the US.
If you’re built bigger than the average Korean woman — like me — you’ll find a lot of free-size clothing to be way too short, narrow-shouldered, and tight. If the Korean store carries more than one size, they usually don’t go above a US 4-6. Anything above that is (shockingly) considered plus-sized.
Understandably, they cater to the Korean market, and the expat community in Korea is rather small, being one of the most homogenous countries in the world.
Fortunately, baggy clothes tend to be in style, so you may luck out.
Best Bets for Plus-Sized Korean Clothing Stores
Korean fashion mall that carries some extended sizes including imported footwear. Most of the women’s brands are free-size or small/medium. Check individual brand sizing charts for the best fit. And don’t rule out unisex or men’s styles for larger sizes!
Plus-sized women’s fashion in Korea. There’s a physical location at 3F, Chungsang Building, 44-6 Jongbong-ro 8-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
Carries larger bra sizes up to a G-cup.
Women’s plus-sized store in Korea that carries styles up to Korean women’s 5XL.
Affordable, fast-fashion chain all over Korea that carries sizes up to an extra large (probably equivalent to a US medium or US 8-10). Quality is on the lower end (as are prices).
Mostly men’s big-size clothing, but carries some unisex items.
Mostly men’s clothing, but carries some unisex styles.
Feminine, plus-sized women’s clothing store with physical locations in Korea (see locations here).
Women’s clothing store that carries plus-sized and free-size styles.
Women’s clothing store that carries up a size XL.
Women’s plus-sized Korean fashion chain with offline locations (here). Also carries bigger sized shoes! Probably one of the more popular big-sized clothing chains.
Plus-sized women’s fashion in trendy, Korean styles. I appreciate that their marketing on their YouTube channel features real, plus-sized ladies.
Women’s Korean big-size clothing all over Korea. Locations can be found here. Offline retail only, no online shop.
Women’s clothing store that offers big size clothing!
Women’s clothing store that carries sizes up to 77 (Korean XL or US Medium).
Carries women’s clothing sizes up to 110.
Clothing store for tall women in Korea.
Clothing store for tall women in Korea.
Plus-sized women’s clothing store in Korea.
Athlete Korea offers plus-sized athletic clothes in South Korea.
Something you may want to consider is going to a tailor in Seoul. This one is located in Gangnam! Their address is 16, Nonhyeon-ro 155-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
Best Bets for Plus-Sized International Clothing Stores in Korea
Stocks all sizes albeit more expensive than what you may be used to back home. In terms of sizing, I’m still a size medium in Zara clothing. Bigger shoe sizes (like European 41 or US size 10) may not be available in-store, but can be found online. Also, you can purchase online and return in-store if the fit or quality is off. There are a few physical locations scattered around Seoul like on Gangnam-daero, Garosu-gil, or Myeongdong.
Also offers sportswear, seasonal swimwear, and lingerie! You can find larger-sized stockings here as well. Available both online and offline with multiple locations around Seoul, carrying shoes and clothing up to a size 42-44 in-store. Some items are clearly labeled as Asian Fit (petite), and unfortunately for me, H&M Korea is switching its basics to default to Petite Fit (see sizing chart here). Sinsa location is 21 Apgujeong-ro 12-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
Locations all over Seoul. The closest American Eagle to me is at the Coex Mall (513, Yeongdong-daero Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06164). The Korean American Eagle shop is actually at HFashionMall.com, but sizing is limited in Korea.
I bought gym leggings here the other day at their location on Gangnam-Daero, but be warned: the fit is small. I am normally a medium in Nike clothes, but had to buy an XL despite losing a little weight in Korea. Most of the leggings at the store were also on the shorter side, and I had to search high and low for full-length leggings that weren’t capris on me.
Carries up to a US size 10 typically. 7/8 length leggings are great for shorter girls, but not so great for taller girls like me.
Minimalist styles and leather goods. I did see COS stock size large in-store which is comforting. They also have size EU 41 (US 10) shoes on their Korean website.
Heattech is a godsend during the cold, Korean winter. Sizing is limited in stores, but you may have luck ordering online.
Best Bets for Shopping Online for Plus-Sized Clothing that Deliver to Korea
Tip: Make sure your cart order doesn’t exceed 150,000 KRW (including shipping) or you’ll have to pay customs/VAT upon arrival to Korea.
Includes retailers that are part of BorderFree shopping, shipping worldwide.
Western sizing. Ships to Korea with duties included in price.
Western sizing. Ships to Korea with duties calculated at checkout.
Western sizing. Check individual brand sizing charts for the best fit. Ships to Korea, but watch out for duties for orders over 150,000 KRW.
Fast-fashion chain that ships to Korea. I’ve heard the quality is lacking but carries plus-sized clothing.
Extensive selection of goods, mostly from China.
Double-check if the item can ship to Korea as not everything is eligible. I’ve heard if you make friends with someone on the military base, you can bypass some of the customs duties. You may get the person in trouble, however. Opting for Amazon Prime in Korea may not be worth it if you don’t shop as frequently. You’ll still have to pay to ship but at a slightly lower cost. Their global store can be a godsend when you can’t find an item’s equivalent on Coupang.com or Gmarket.
Western sizing. Trendy women’s fashion that ships internationally. Duties/taxes not included. Be aware the sizes are standard western sizing, and not necessarily true plus-sized.
Western sizing. I’ve ordered shoes from ShopBop to Korea which took about two weeks to arrive (the usual).
Plus-sized fashion that ships internationally.
Founded by Japanese comedienne, Watanabe Naomi!
Where can I find big size shoes in Korea?
It’s tricky. Even international stores in Seoul, Korea won’t stock shoe sizes bigger than a US shoe size 8.
READ MORE: Head to Where to Buy Big Shoes in Korea for more information about my quest to find big sized shoes in this land of tiny feet!