I hate to break it to you, but welcome to the land of tiny feet. You have a few options when looking for bigger-sized shoes in South Korea as a foreigner. Really, you can either shop locally whilst facing a more limited selection or choose to have everything shipped in from overseas. Like most of Asia, clothing sizes and shoe sizes are suited to the local population — which happens to be more on the petite side. For those bigger folk, like me, who come in at a towering 5’10 ft and with feet to match, I’ve had my work cut out for me. And boy, do I love shoes. One would think that the unavailability of shoe sizes here would curb my shopping addiction, but no, the extra challenge just made me extra sleuthy.
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How do I deal with having big feet in Korea without (completely) sacrificing style? These are a few of my strategies:
- Stock up on shoes whenever I’m overseas
- Ship my shoes from overseas websites to South Korea, making sure the cart total and shipping is under 150,000 KRW or I’ll be hit with customs fees/duties
- Buy unisex shoe styles in South Korea like sneakers, boots, or sandals
- Buy from international clothing stores in South Korea that stock larger shoe sizes on their website
- Dig around for Korean shoes stores that carry bigger sizes and complain to shoe stores that do not (99% of them)
- Always check the return/exchange policies before ordering in case of shoe size chart mismatch
Shoe Sizes in South Korea
How large do shoe sizes go in Korea?
Unfortunately, you’ll find that most women’s shoes in Korea range from sizes 220-255 or a US 5 to US 8.5. For us, bigger-footed folk, we’re left gawking at the men’s shoe section which leaves us with some pretty frumpy shoes.
It’s not a complete dead end to find shoes in “bigger” American sizes in Seoul, but it takes a little effort. Most stores don’t carry shoes bigger than a US 8 in stores unless you hop over to unisex sneakers and boots or the men’s section, so if you’re looking for feminine styles, you will probably have to order them online. Once every blue moon, you may be able to find feminine women’s shoes in larger sizes at international stores like Zara.
To be honest, I tend to order my shoes online from overseas because I’m very finicky about leather quality and fit. Most of the women’s shoes made in Korea are made in China with synthetic leather.
What’s My Shoe Size in Korea?
I hate to break it to you, but this is not a straightforward answer. SHOE SIZE CHARTS ARE HORRIBLE IN KOREA. I’ve seen clothing and shoe sizing charts in South Korea and — let’s face it — overseas absolutely fail. The charts below aren’t totally accurate, but it’s a decent baseline.
Here are some tips to get an idea of which shoe size to blind-buy:
- Gauge your shoe size by where the shoes are actually manufactured (and not always where the brand is based.) For example, some US shoe brands manufacture their shoes in Spain or Italy, and I’ve seen shoe sizes mislabeled frequently.
- Are they made in Europe? If you know your EU shoe size, choose that one.
- Are they made in the US? If you know your US shoe size, choose that one.
- Are they made in Korea? Try on in person if possible, use the below charts with a grain of salt, and check the return policy before buying!
- Are they made in China? This one is a bit of Russian Roulette. Since so many companies manufacture in China, this is where I do try to go with where the company is based as the Chinese manufacturer in this case will probably try to adhere more closely to the company’s standards.
- If you’re buying unisex or men’s shoe styles in Korea above KR 255, I find that they often do run bigger than women’s styles, so you may want to go down at least a half size. Again, check the return policy if you’re blind-buying.
Here’s something that I noticed that is specific to shoe sizes in South Korea: anything above a KR 255 is often considered by local retailers to be men’s or unisex sizing at most stores here and will therefore run larger and/or wider. This is also true with sneakers in South Korea from Adidas, New Balance, and Nike as they are localized for the Korean market.
For those who wear a women’s US 10 (EU 41) shoe like me, this is what I typically buy locally in Korea:
- For unisex or men’s styles, including boots and sneakers, I size down and buy a KR 260.
- For locally based women’s shoes (like Youbyyeolna), I buy between a KR 265-270.
- Anything imported from overseas like Clarks, Camper, H&M, Zara, etc, stick to the size chart of the origin country and ignore the conversion charts, e.g. US shoes will be US 10 and anything made in the EU will be an EU 41
Women’s Shoe Sizes in South Korea
|China / Hong Kong / Taiwan
Here is another shoe size chart from Dangsrap shoe store in Korea that shows women’s shoe sizes in Korea and the equivalent in the United States, Japan, and the European Union. From my experience with Dangsrap, the shoes do run big, so size down.
You can also see that the H&M shoe size chart in South Korea (below) is also weirdly off.
Option One: Buying Shoes from Overseas Websites to Korea
Some websites offer direct shipment to South Korea like Amazon.com, Shopbop.com, or ASOS.com. If the duties and taxes are not included in the final price of your order, you will have to pay for the fees when they go through customs in South Korea.
Many savvy shoppers in South Korea with friends or family living abroad can ship them their latest hauls and have their tags removed and under-declare their purchases at customs as used or as samples. You could do that, but let’s just say that it’s not totally legal.
You could also use a package forwarding service to accept packages locally and have them sent to you in South Korea. Box Oregon, OhMyZip, and FishIsFast are some popular parcel forwarding services from the US to South Korea.
Be careful when shopping for shoes on international websites and having them shipped to Korea because the duty-free limit is around 150,000 KRW from most countries and 200,000 KRW if coming from the United States. Anything above those numbers will incur VAT (10%) tax and customs duty (varies by category), and you will have to pay to get the item(s) through customs. You can read more about what I know about importing things via How to Calculate and Pay Import Tax in Korea When Shopping Overseas.
If you see that your package is stuck at customs, try contacting the shipping service, e.g. DHL, as you may be able to pay the duties and taxes directly with the shipping company to get your package through customs.
Which websites ship to Korea?
Net-a-porter is an online luxury retailer. They ship all over the world, but watch out for customs/duties when shipping to South Korea! The last time that I ordered from Net-a-porter, they shipped via DHL and I had to pay customs fees upon arrival directly to the DHL agent. I had to reach out on my own since I wasn’t told when it was going through customs, so if you suspect the package is in customs and you haven’t heard a word, you can try reaching out directly to the DHL employee that I spoke to, Dongwook Jung, who speaks English perfectly.
Borderfree includes mostly US-based retailers — from Bloomingdales to Dillard’s — that are part of BorderFree shopping, shipping worldwide. Check each individual store part of Border Free shopping to see the shoe selection. Borderfree stores will often allow you to pre-pay for duties/taxes during checkout, so you know exactly what you’re in for.
I almost lost my freaking mind when I found out that Ganni ships to South Korea with duties/taxes included in the price. Besides ultra-cool and on-trend clothing, Ganni also has an eclectic selection of footwear in European sizes. The shoes are not cheap, however. Shoe prices are between 200,000 KRW to 400,000 KRW.
Everlane, an American clothing retailer, now has its own Korean website with duties calculated into the price. A wide range of shoe sizes is available. When looking at shoe sizes, base your size on the sizing chart and compare it to the US size. I’ve heard some shoes run quite narrow and small since they’re made in Italy, so you may want to size up by half a size.
The shoes at Pretty Ballerinas are so nice. Think Repetto slippers but at a slightly less expensive price range. DO watch out for their sizing chart as it’s EU sizing and the customer service misled me into buying a size up which cannot be returned. I know I’m an EU 41 (US 10) and should have just stuck to it. They ship internationally for free, but you still have to worry about duty/customs upon arrival to Korea which can really add up.
Nordstrom department store carries familiar American and European brands suited for all sizes, including a wide range of shoes. Nordstrom ships to Korea with duties calculated at checkout.
Free People has an eclectic and trendy collection of women’s clothing, accessories, and shoes. They stock familar brands like Tevas, Dr. Martens, and Minnetonka. Free shipping for global orders over $150 USD, otherwise the cost of shipping to South Korea is $35. Duties/taxes paid by customer upon arrival.
I bought a pair of Dr. Martens Nartilla sandals from them recently because I couldn’t find my size in Korea, and the price was $100 + $35 shipping (no taxes/duties because the order was under $150), so $135 or about 153,000 KRW … The same pair goes for about 170,000 KRW (at full retail price) at the Dr. Martens Korea retail store in South Korea.
Like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus is part of Borderfree which displays prices in KRW, calculates the duties/taxes that you may have to pay, and gives you the option to either pre-pay them during checkout or pay them when they arrive. If you choose to pay for the customs fees when the products arrive, remember to put down your Korean phone number, so you’ll be contacted once the product is going through customs.
UK-based fast-fashion retailer, ASOS, carries all sorts of men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories. Check individual brand sizing charts for the best fit. Duties and taxes are not calculated at checkout to Korea, so be prepared for additional fees if your order exceeds 150,000 KRW including shipping.
Another inexpensive fast-fashion chain that ships to Korea from China. The quality of the clothes is very hit or miss, but at that price point, it’s kind of expected. They do carry bigger-sized shoes as well.
Aliexpress is kind of a free-for-all online shopping market with an extensive and inexpensive selection of goods, mostly from China.
Double-check if the item can ship to Korea as not everything is eligible. 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.
Also, it’s 100% worth checking out Amazon.it or Amazon.fr if you’re into European-made shoes (like me). We all know some of the best shoes are made in Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal, right? I’ve had decent luck just purchasing European brands with global shipping that outlast my non-European shoes. If the item is on sale, it kind of cancels out the crazy shipping fees in my head, so it’s like I’m paying full price.
Revolve Clothing is a trendy women’s fashion store that ships internationally. Duties/taxes not included.
ShopBop is a US online fashion apparel store that has a great selection of trendy women’s clothing. I’ve ordered shoes from ShopBop to Korea which took about two weeks to arrive (the usual).
Torrid is a US-based, plus-sized fashion retail store that ships internationally.
Option Two: Buying Shoes from Local Stores in Korea
Where can I shop for shoes in Seoul?
If you’re struggling to find your shoe size in Seoul, South Korea, you can head over to familiar international brands with physical, offline locations in South Korea like H&M, COS, & Other Stories, Zara, Massimo Dutti, and Charles & Keith. They often have bigger shoe sizes on their websites and occasionally in-stores.
Unfortunately, I wish it were true for all international stores. Camper, Clarks, and even Aldo Shoes in South Korea don’t carry extended sizes as they do elsewhere in the world. The bottom line for them is that it’s not profitable to carry these sizes when there is not enough demand.
When in doubt, unisex sizes.
I bought these Teva sandals from Musinsa since they came in men’s or unisex sizing. I bought the KR 270 (Women’s US 10) and another pair in KR 260 (US 9), but the KR 260 fit me better. I recommend sizing down a full size. Luckily, the straps are adjustable, so I actually kept both pairs.
International Shoe Chains in South Korea
If you’ve been hanging around Sinsa lately, you may have noticed a new store pop-up in the area. Allbirds finally launched in Korea and with that, the opportunity to buy more shoes for us bigger-footed ladies! I did notice that the online store doesn’t carry bigger sizes in all colors with their classic tree breezers. I would be sincerely sad if they don’t continue to keep them in stock, but the unisex styles are more generous in their sizes.
Update (5/18/2022): I can confirm that they do carry a US Women’s 10 in their offline store! Bought a pair of flats there, and I was ecstatic.
Allbirds Sinsa Address: 45, Gangnam-daero 160-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 신사동 강남대로160길 45)
Made in Spain, these luxury shoes can cost a pretty penny. They’re best known for their ballerina slippers, and their Korean store carries sizes up to an EU 41. Most big, luxury department stores in South Korea like the Galleria also carry Repetto.
Repetto Apgujeong Address: Seokjeon Building, 12, Seolleung-ro 157-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. (12 선릉로157길 1F)
You can usually find up to a size EU 39 in stock in-stores, but anything bigger (like European 41/US size 10) are online-only. The good news? If you buy your shoes online, you can still return them 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.
H&M offers clothing, accessories, sportswear, seasonal swimwear, and lingerie. Shoe quality can vary since they now carry a premium leather shoes collection, and you’re more likely to find bigger sizes online than in store. There are many locations scattered across Seoul — most notably in Myeongdong and Apgujeong. H&M Sinsa (Apgujeong) location is 21 Apgujeong-ro 12-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
The clothing size at H&M used to be a Western fit, but they recently switched their sizing to Asian (petite) fit as the standard with Western fit labeled with a T for Tall (see sizing chart here). They may not carry all sizes in stock at their physical retail locations, but extended sizing is available online.
Fortunately, sneakers are one of those things that can be easily worn unisex even if the label says they’re for men. Women-specific shoes are still capped to around KR 255, but there’s nothing wrong with going for a slightly chunkier men’s sneaker occasionally.
COS stocks premium minimalist styles and leather goods from their parent company, H&M. They have size EU 41 (US 10) shoes on their Korean website! Stock is limited though.
& Other Stories — another branch of their parent company, H&M — sells premium on-trend fashion and accessories. They carry shoe sizes up to EU 40 (US 9.5).
If you sign up for their newsletter and make an account, you can use the code ‘BONJOUR’ for your first purchase online.
Dr. Martens in Korea shoe styles are mostly unisex, so it’s easy to find big-sized shoes here. There’s a main branch store in Garosugil at 1F, 544-16, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. More Dr. Martens locations in Korea can be found here.
Online & Offline Korean Shoe Brands
Custom-made shoes based in Seoul that offers shoe sizes up to a US 12 or EU 42.5. They also ship worldwide. Styles are bit limited at the time of writing, however, they look quite comfortable!
9cm carries some shoes up to a KR 260 (US 9-9.5).
ANDHEEL sells big-sized shoes made with artificial (synthetic) leather up to a size KR 270 (US 10-10.5).
Babinheel is an affordable women’s Korean shoe store — usually made with faux (synthetic) leather — that stocks shoe sizes up to KR 270.
Big Girl Shoes is a Korean shoe store — again, usually made with faux (synthetic) leather — that stocks shoe sizes up to 270.
Onreve carries shoes — mostly made with synthetic leather — up to a KR 265 (US 9.5).
CauseU sells larger sized shoes in Korea made with artificial (synthetic) leather up to a size KR 260 (US 9).
Nevermind the questionable font choices, Small and Big (스몰앤빅) is an online store that sells custom handmade shoes — made with either synthetic leather or real leather — in bigger sizes — up to a KR 270.
Day Day (매일매일데이데이)
Day Day (매일매일데이데이) is another shoe store in Korea — mostly made with artificial (synthetic) leather — that carries shoe sizes up to a KR 270 (US 10-10.5) and sometimes KR 280.
Ebonne (에본느) carries shoes — mostly made with synethic leather — up to a KR 265 (US 9.5).
You can purchase big-sized shoes at 177 Salon Naver Store. They carry shoe sizes up to a KR 270 (US 10). The shoes are mostly faux-leather.
I found this shoe store through Instagram the other day, and I was ecstatic to see that they actually carried sizes up to a KR 280 or US 11. I did end up buying two pairs of sandals (black and beige) in my usual size — a US 10 which in their size chart said KR 270 — but they ended up being way too large. I ended up exchanging the shoes for a full size down to KR 260 and they now fit perfectly. If you have any questions about which shoe size to pick, try sending them a message before purchasing as some of their shoes are exchange-only and non-returnable. A pair of sandals costs between 65,000 KRW and 89,000 KRW.
Gabig is an online-only, plus-sized store in Korea that also carries a small selection of shoes with shoe sizes up to a KR 275.
Hongyi Showroom sells feminine big-sized shoes on Naver Store made with faux-leather (synthetic) up to a size KR 275 (US 10.5-11).
Iklang carries some shoes up to a KR 260 (US 9-9.5).
Momojane is a shoe store in Korea — mostly made with artificial (synthetic) leather — that carries shoe sizes up to a KR 265 (US 9.5).
Onreve carries shoes — mostly made with synthetic leather — up to a KR 265 (US 9.5).
Sinayo (신어요닷컴) carries shoes — mostly made with synhetic leather — up to a KR 275 (US 10.5-11).
Sookyee (Big Shoes) is a shoe store in Korea — mostly made with artificial (synthetic) leather — that carries shoe sizes up to a KR 265 (US 9.5).
Youbyyeolna is another affordable faux-leather (synthetic) Korean shoe store that stocks shoe sizes up to 270.
Ready2Wear is a premium clothing brand with a minimal, classic aesthetic in South Korea that carries leather shoes up to a KR 260 (US 9). The Ready2Wear offline showroom is located at 7, Hannam-daero 27ga-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.
So, I came across this little funky handmade shoe store based in Seongsu-dong on the interwebz, and I was really curious whether or not they would be able to make custom shoes for bigger feet. I messaged them on Instagram, and they confirmed that yes, they can make shoes up to a KR 275 (US 10.5) which was wonderful news. The shoe prices seem to range from 130,000 KRW to 400,000 KRW, but if you’re buying well-made, beautifully-fitted, custom shoes, I think it’s well worth it.
Most of Very Shu’s big-sized shoes range from KR 255-260, but there are a few available that extend to KR 265 (US 9.5), KR 270 (US 10), or KR 280 (US 11). Typical of Korean shoe stores, most of the shoes are faux leather and affordable.
Big It Shoe is another South Korean shoe brand that sells women’s shoes up to a KR 265 (US 9.5). Their shoes are mostly made from synthetic leather and fall under an affordable price range.
Diane Shoes is a shoe store brand in South Korea that carries shoes usually made with synthetic leather. They also carry sizes up to a KR 275 (US 10.5).
The other day, I was poking around Naver Map looking at shoe stores in Seongsu, Seoul, and I came across Yuul Yie. They are very cool and modern, but definitely not the cheapest. The shoes are unisex which means that the size range is very wide. I can’t get a good grasp on the shoe size chart for women since they are “genderless”, so I would suggest popping into the store if you need guidance.
Yuul Yie: 12, Seongsui-ro 12-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul (서울 성동구 성수이로12길 12)
Vetiano makes beautiful, all leather custom-made shoes in Seonsu-dong, Seoul. You’ll have to pay extra for bigger sizes, sometimes up to 90,000 KRW extra. They’re not cheap. Sizes can be made up to KR 275, and there’s an offline store in case you need to be fitted.
Vetiano: 1st floor, 50 Yeonmujang-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul (서울 성동구 연무장길 50 1층 베티아노)
Korean E-commerce Stores and Online Shopping Malls
I’ve bought a pair of Crocs that came in from overseas on Coupang. Thank you, global shipping! On why I bought crocs, the simple answer was jangma, or the monsoon season in Korea.
You can also find small, local Korean brands that list their products on both online marketplaces and offer a wider selection of shoe sizes.
Giant e-commerce store in Korea much like Amazon.com where you can find clothing, electronics, food, furniture, and more. You can find big-sized shoes from small sellers on Coupang, but I haven’t found a quality pair that I love yet. I blind-bought a pair of flats just to test out the quality, and they were made from synthetic leather and really uncomfortable. However, that’s just my one personal experience!
There’s two versions of Gmarket: Gmarket (Korean) and Gmarket Global (English). Both ship to Korea, but the Korean language site has a better selection and better pricing. The English language version of Gmarket is more accessible both in terms of navigation and use with a foreign credit card.
Shoopen is a popular offline and online retail store that carries a wide selection of shoes for both men and women. Unfortunately, the women’s shoe sizes for anything bigger than a KR 255 is quite limited, and you’ll be faced with mostly unisex styles. You can always dip into the men’s section to look at boots and sneakers though.
Popular Korean shoe store chain (online and offline) that carries both men and women’s shoes. Women’s shoe sizes don’t seem to extend past 250mm but check men’s unisex styles.
Korean fashion mall that also carries bigger-sized imported shoes and unisex styles. I’ve noticed that brands like Attitude L will sometimes carry shoes up to a KR 265 which is a godsend for those actually looking for feminine, big-sized shoes … And not men’s loafers.
WConcept is an online Korean marketplace that carries an extensive collection of trendy men’s and women’s clothing. Women’s shoe sizes don’t seem to extend past 250mm but check men’s unisex styles. Tagtraume is one Women’s shoe brand that uses synthetic leather that I’ve noticed sometimes carries sizes up to a KR 270. Miyerh and Reike Nen also sometimes carry shoes up to a KR 270. Doratore, a premium leather shoe brand, also carries shoes up to a KR 280. ATTITUDE;L also carries shoes up a KR 265.
Musinsa is a popular Korean marketplace that carries both men’s and women’s street style clothing. Popular shoe brands include Adidas, Converse, Vans, Tevas, and Nike. I usually buy unisex shoes like sneakers from Musinsa since most Korean women’s shoe brands do not offer bigger shoe sizes.
YASE is a Korean brand that offers unisex shoes styles, so if you’re on the hunt for cute leather summer shoes in bigger sizes, it’s definitely worth visiting. Chertoi Seoul also carries custom-made, feminine styles up to a KR 270, and surprise! The brand is located in Seongsu-dong, the shoemaking district of Seoul.
Global Yard also sells the Tagtraume brand which uses synthetic leather and carries shoes up to size KR 265-270 (US 9.5-10).
Korean shoes and accessories store that carries both men and women’s shoes and a very small selection of big-sized shoes offline — often overpriced, but worth mentioning. Sells international brands like Clarks, Bruno Magli, and Renoir. Physical locations all over Seoul.