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 and also Where to Buy Big Shoes in Korea for those with feet over a size US 8
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 considered plus-sized in Korea?
Beauty standards in Korea can feel unforgiving at times for both foreigners and locals and broadly speaking, anyone above a US size 6 can be considered plus-sized in Korea. According to Wikipedia, the average Korean woman’s weight is 56.5 kg (124.6 lb) and 161 cm (5 ft 3 1⁄2 in). If you don’t fit into that mold, here’s a friendly internet reminder that beauty comes in many shapes and sizes! And if you think that all Korean women are slim, that’s certainly not true.
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.
Do Korean clothes run small?
Usually, yes. If you’re converting your size from American (US) sizes to Korean sizes, you’ll probably want to take special attention to the brand’s measurements. From my experience, if you’re broad-shouldered, tall, or big-busted, you may face some challenges with the fit.
Plus-Sized Sizing Charts in South Korea
Below are a few examples of sizing charts from plus-size friendly stores in South Korea. You can get an idea of your fit by taking measurements at home as sizing can vary from store to store. H&M Korea switched over to petite sizing for those shorter ladies out there but will carry some tall sizing, labeled with a T.
Plus-sized Stores in South Korea
I would say that the most popular plus-sized stores in South Korea for ex-pats living in South Korea are Romi Story and H&M due to the availability of clothes offline & online and their extended size range.
Older blogs may direct you to shop at staples like Forever 21 in Seoul. Unfortunately, their retail stores closed in South Korea in 2019 after filing for bankruptcy in the United States. You can still shop Forever 21 online, however.
Plus-sized Underwear in Seoul, South Korea
Bra Shop Lora carries international brands like Pretty Polly, Ellen Tracy, and Le Mystère and larger bra sizes up to a J-cup. There are two physical locations in Seoul: one in Hongdae (near Hongik University Station) and one in Nonhyeon (near Hakdong Station.)
Bra Shop Lora Hongdae Address: 4F, Garden Building, 87 World Cupbuk-ro 4-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울시 마포구 월드컵북로 4길 87 정원빌딩 4층)
Bra Shop Lora Nonhyeon Address: 2nd floor, 25 Hakdong-ro 34-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울시 강남구 학동로 34길 25 2층)
Korean Brands in South Korea that Offer Plus-Sized Clothing
If you want to shop in-store to see and try on clothes, I highly recommend heading to the Lotte Young Plaza (Naver Map) in Myeongdong, Seoul. There are three plus-sized Korean brands on the third floor — Romi Story, 09Women, and Hot Ping.
29CM is a 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!
Gabig offers plus-sized women’s fashion in Korea.
Women’s plus-sized store in Korea that carries styles up to Korean women’s 5XL (KR 130).
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 LOTS of physical locations in Korea. It would take forever to list all the stores, so you can see the full list on their website here.
09Women (공구우먼) is a women’s clothing store that carries plus-sized and free-size styles in Seoul, South Korea. Bonus: there are physical (offline) locations where you can try on clothes in-person.
09Women Hapjeong Address: 101, 1st floor, Seogyo Jeil Building, 64 Yanghwa-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 양화로 64 서교제일빌딩 1층 101호)
09Women Myeongdong Address: Lotte Young Plaza 3rd floor, 67 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 남대문로 67 롯데 영플라자 3층)
Hotping (핫핑) is a women’s clothing store in South Korea with an offline and online selection of plus-sized clothing up to a size XL.
Hotping Myeongdong Address: Lotte Department Store Myeongdong Main Branch, Young Plaza 3rd floor, 67 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 남대문로 67 롯데백화점 명동본점 영플라자 3층)
Lady Plus (레이디플러스) is a women’s plus-sized Korean fashion chain with offline locations. They also carry some bigger-sized shoes! Probably one of the more popular big-sized clothing chains.
Lady Plus Uijeongbu Address: 20, Sandan-ro 132beon-gil, Uijeongbu-si, Gyeonggi-do (경기 의정부시 산단로132번길 20)
Lady Plus Ilsan Address: 260 Gobong-ro, Ilsan-dong, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do (경기 고양시 일산동 고봉로 260)
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.
Plus-sized women’s clothing store in Korea.
Athlete Korea offers plus-sized athletic clothes in South Korea.
Korean Brands for Tall Women
Being 5 foot 10 inches (around 177cm) and a little less curvy these days, it can be hard to find clothes in South Korea that don’t look like they shrunk in the washer on me. Maybe I could have pulled off a crop top in middle school, but those days are long gone.
Even if I can squeeze into Korean standard sizes, the fit is still just so off due to having broad shoulders, a long torso, and long legs. Besides shopping at international stores that carry Western sizing, there are a few Korean brands that cater to taller women (below).
Korean women’s fashion store with a tall-sized section.
Clothing store for tall women in Korea.
Clothing store for tall women in Korea.
International Clothing Stores in South Korea that Offer Plus-Sized Clothing
The following list is comprised of international clothing chains with physical retail locations in South Korea where you can shop in-store. Larger sizes do tend to sell out quickly or are not always in stock within the store, so keep that in mind when shopping for plus-sized clothes in Seoul.
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. H&M Korea also carries its own plus-sized line. 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). The H&M 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). You can get a better range of sizes by ordering on the international American Eagle website and have them ship your order from overseas.
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.
Websites that Offer Plus-Sized Clothing that Deliver to Korea
Fortunately, when buying from overseas brands based in Europe or the US, I know what I’m getting into size-wise, so I don’t have to examine the sizing charts as carefully. However, returning clothing can be a real hindrance, shipping times can take forever, and additional shipping charges can also be quite high.
Tip: Make sure your cart order doesn’t exceed $150 USD (including shipping) or you’ll have to pay customs/VAT upon arrival to Korea. Some stores calculate duty/customs fees at checkout but some do not.
Universal Standard is all about their inclusive size range — carrying sizes US 00 to US 40. You can find some key basics here. You can calculate shipping costs, duties, and taxes when shipping to Korea at checkout and pre-pay ahead of time, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
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.
ASOS carries a wide range of brands and clothing styles in Western sizing. You’ll need to check individual brand sizing charts for the best fit as they do vary from brand to brand. If you’re looking for plus-sized clothing, ASOS also offers its own line of ASOS Curve clothing marketed towards plus-sized ladies. ASOS ships to Korea, but watch out for duties on orders over $150 USD.
I was a big The Reformation-hoe, and by that, I mean that I was shopping there all the time when I live in the United States. They do ship to South Korea now — duties and taxes are included in the price — but the prices seem so high compared to what I used to pay in the States due to the exchange rate, the shipping, and customs fees.
The Reformation, if you’re listening to me, please create a retail location in Seoul, so I can literally spend all of my money at your store and not have to deal with international shipping.
That aside, The Reformation carries extended sizing up to a US 24. Styles sell out fast so if you love something, buy it sooner than later.
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!
Fashion Nova is an LA-based fast-fashion store that has an extensive plus-sized collection called Curve. They also ship to South Korea, and you can shop the Fashion Nova online store in your preferred currency.
Romania-based brand, Loud Bodies, carries sustainable, feminine styles up to a size 10X. They also ship internationally!
According to their site, Dolls Kill “is an online boutique featuring a rebellious spirit and attitude, mixed with a bit of punk rock, goth, glam and festival fashion.” They’ve got some great indie brands and they ship to South Korea, so you’re welcome.
You’ve probably seen Selkie all over Instagram — I know I have — but if you’re feeling like dressing like a princess, Selkie has fantastically beautiful dresses and they also ship internationally. The clothing size range also goes up to a US 5x.
Snag Tights is based in Livingston, Scotland, and prides itself in offering tights in many sizes (from a US 4 to US 36) and colors. Luckily, they ship worldwide, including South Korea!
Where can I find big-size shoes in South Korea?
Finding bigger-sized shoes in South Korea is a real challenge. Even international stores in Seoul, Korea won’t stock shoe sizes bigger than a US shoe size 8 since they cater to meet the demands of small-footed Koreans.
Your best bet would be to buy shoes from overseas brands and have them shipped to South Korea or head to international stores like Zara or H&M. There are a few local Korean brands that stock inexpensive shoes that go up to a KR 270, however. I’ve heard good things about Babinheel, Big Girl Shoes, and Youbyyeolna. If you want to see a full list of stores that cater to shoe sizes US 8 and up, head to the link below.
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!