Irina Ene
With over five years of experience in global new product launches from mass market to prestige, Irina provides the direction for our research coordinators in covering all the beauty categories.

Seoul is not just the world’s sheet mask capital, it’s also the best place to explore K-beauty at its heart and discover the latest trends that excite Korean consumers. Among the bustling shopping streets, here are some of the most interesting retail concepts I spotted in Seoul during my recent visit.

Innovative flagship stores succeed with unique experiences

While multi-brand stores bring convenience and diversity, flagship-meets-concept stores are still the preferred way for consumers to engage with brands. Exciting experiences and Instagrammable spaces are successful retail attractions for young Korean consumers.

Filter Space, Dr. Jart’s flagship store in Sinsa, features a futuristic design inspired by water, air and light – natural elements that keep the skin healthy. The design changes periodically to promote the brand’s latest core launches, with the most recent #repairproject inspired by the Cicapair range for soothing irritated skin. The white and green colour scheme of the range runs throughout the store, paired with a silent room where visitors can disconnect, a rooftop garden where they can plant seeds, and a colouring room whose walls and ceilings offer the perfect space for mindfulness.

Innisfree, AmorePacific’s natural beauty brand based on clean botanical ingredients from the island of Jeju, uses its flagship store in the busy shopping district of Myeondong to create an oasis of calm. The ground floor may look like a regular Innisfree store, but the upstairs opens up to a Green Cafe that serves drinks and cakes inspired by the brand’s skincare formulas, from green tea lattes and detox juices to cherry blossom tiramisu and peach cheesecake. The decor brings together living green walls, wooden panels and seating areas that aim to recreate the peaceful atmosphere of the iconic Jeju island in the heart of Seoul.

Stylenanda Pink Hotel is the highly Instagrammable flagship store of the Korean fashion label that became a global internet sensation. Alongside its clothing & accessories line, the luxury hotel-inspired store showcases the company’s cosmetics and skincare brand, 3CE (3 Concept Eyes). The ‘Millennial pink’ facade hides a six-storey building where each floor features a different theme, including a bathtub filled with flowers, a floating bed, a poolside tiled room, a rooftop terrace and a cafe serving candy floss-topped drinks.

Stonebrick, a lego-inspired makeup brand launched by Korean retail giant Shinsegae, recently opened its only brick-and-mortar store in Hongdae, Seoul’s hippest neighbourhood. Geared towards the Millennial consumer in search of fun, yet practical cosmetics, the products come in a wide variety of shades and a modular concept that allows the user to build their own make-up systems with stackable magnetic packaging. The brick puzzle format encourages creativity, customisation and portability, resulting in a retail model that harnesses playfulness and visual satisfaction.

The rise of the multi-brand stores

Famous for its single-brand stores, Seoul is now becoming more attuned to spaces that cater to demanding and sophisticated consumers, who enjoy exploring the offerings of both well-established and emerging brands.

AmorePacific’s Aritaum stores, previously restricted to only a handful of the company’s own brands, are now trialing a new type of retail experience. In its Gangnam location, Aritaum has brought together a wide range of local, niche and international brands to better explore both established and up-and-coming beauty trends like crystals, skincare for wellness and sleep support, jellies and cica creams.

Aritaum also showcases an impressive selection of sheet masks, exploring innovative concepts from in-shower formulas to sauna masks and nail packs. The store also organises daily workshops, from colour mixing to brush cleansing, and offers a beauty packaging recycling service.