Some of my favorite designer bags are pre-loved. You can always buy second-hand luxury items online from overseas online retailers, but you’ll get hit with customs/duties when importing luxury goods into South Korea. To avoid that, you may want to check out the local South Korean pre-loved luxury market where Gangnam noonas drop their tired ol’ bags.
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Where to Buy Luxury Handbags in South Korea
Sure, you can buy luxury goods online via FarFetch, Yoox, MyTheresa, Net-A-Porter, MatchesFashion, TheRealReal, or Vestiare Collective that all ship to South Korea. That’s one option. But of course, that sneaky little customs office will intercept your package in the mail and make you pay (a lot) for it. Sometimes, it’s worth it for those one-of-a-kind items.
You can also purchase luxury designer fashion, bags, and accessories in South Korea at department stores like The Hyundai, Lotte Department Store, and Shinsegae Department Stores. Apgujeong is filled with luxury boutiques like Dior, Chanel, and 10 Corso Como. There’s also a few highly-coveted Goyard stores in Seoul.
As of March 2022, I can definitely tell you that luxury retail prices in South Korea are among the highest if not the highest of all countries.
It doesn’t get much better with the recent price increases. I’m looking at you, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Unfortunately, prices in Asia — and particularly in Korea — aren’t the best. Most of these luxury retailers know that South Korean consumers are willing to pay a premium for these goods and they’re marked up more than in many Western countries. It may sometimes be worth it if you’re leaving the country and getting that tax refund. Savvy frequent travelers in South Korea often take luxury handbag trips to France or Italy and stock up there, avoiding the hefty taxes in their home country.
Comparison of Louis Vuitton Retail Prices between South Korea, France, Japan, and the United States as of April 2021
|Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis||₩2,610,000 ($2,323.06 USD)||¥256,300 ($2,326.17 USD)||1600,00€ ($1,891.20 USD)||$2050.00 USD|
|Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM||₩1,990,000 ($1,771.22 USD)||¥203,500 ($1,846.96 USD)||1200,00€ ($1,418.34 USD)||$1620.00 USD|
|Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM||₩1,890,000 ($1,682.21 USD)||¥194,700 ($1,767.67 USD)||1150,00€ ($1,359.24 USD)||$1540.00 USD|
|Louis Vuitton Noé||₩2,130,000 ($1,895.83 USD)||¥216,700 ($1,967.41 USD)||1240,00€ ($1,465.62 USD)||$1730.00 USD|
|Louis Vuitton Alma BB||₩1,820,000 ($1,619.91 USD)||¥177,700 ($1,613.33 USD)||1100,00€ ($1,300.14 USD)||$1480.00 USD|
|Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandoulière 30||₩2,090,000 ($1,860.13 USD)||¥148,500 ($1,348.22 USD)||1200,00€ ($1,418.34 USD)||$1680.00 USD|
|Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandoulière 25||₩2,060,000 ($1,833.43 USD)||¥146,300 ($1,328.25 USD)||1800,00€ ($2,127.51 USD)||$1650.00 USD|
As you can see in the table above, Louis Vuitton prices are significantly higher in South Korea than in other markets in 2021, and the prices have increased since then. Keep in mind also that in many countries like South Korea, taxes are included — currently, VAT in South Korea is 10% — whereas in the United States, taxes are not inclusive in the displayed price and can vary from state-to-state. Prices in France and the rest of the European Union also includes their VAT in the affixed price which can be partially refunded at the airport upon departure.
The Pre-Loved Market in South Korea
If you don’t mind used luxury bags, there are always luxury consignment shops in South Korea — filled to the brim with ol’ Prada bags and last year’s Gucci. Nobody needs to know that you bought second-hand. I won’t tell.
Shopping at popular second-hand luxury stores requires a little bit of a learning curve online due to the pain-in-the-butt Korean checkout process, but it’s well worth it! The two most famous, Koibito and Gugus, also have offline stores and competitive pricing.
If you’re looking to buy from overseas from one of these Korean consignment shops, you’ll mostly be out of luck. Like most stores in South Korea, they do not ship internationally and do not accept international credit cards. If you happen to have a close friend here or a trip planned to South Korea soon, you may get lucky.
Pre-loved designer shop in Korea. Bought a Louis Vuitton bag from Koibito and I am in love. I think the prices are a wee bit better at Gugu’s, but check both stores to compare!
Another used luxury designer shop in Korea. I’ve bought designer bags here before and it’s been my little guilty pleasure! Like any pre-loved luxury bag store, make sure you do your due diligence and check MSRP. Bag condition is rated A+, A, B+, B, etc! A lot of luxury bags do tend to be marked up in Korea compared to buying them overseas, so it’s also worth checking the price in the designer’s home country in case you have a trip planned in the future.
Trenbe is new to the pre-loved luxury market in South Korea, but it’s definitely worth checking out! The prices are a little higher than Gugus, but you may be able to find hard-to-find pieces not on the other sites!
KREAM, or Kicks Rule Everything Around Me, is known for its sneakerhead fan base but has been gaining traction in the luxury handbag market. Though I wouldn’t call their bags a steal, they do have much more current, on-trend, and hard-to-find bags versus other resale marketplaces. You can also find anything from Apple iPads and Dyson hairdryers to Rolexes and Telfar bags.