The breadth and style of Korean tailoring

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On the Wednesday night of my recent trip to Seoul, there was a party to celebrate the anniversary of the local cloth agency, Renovatio. The founder Sam Ahn invited everyone in the industry, and over 200 people turned up. 

I have never seen so many well-tailored men in one place. They were young (on average), they were stylish (the occasional pink-shoed peacock apart) and they were all wearing suits and ties. It was wonderful. 

Korea is not a big market compared to the UK or Japan - and tiny compared to the US - yet it supports a large number of tailors, from cheap MTM to bespoke. Walking around Seoul, you see more tailoring-related outlets than in probably any other city, including several alterations houses that have also expanded into making their own things. 

This is particularly impressive in a country where (as I noted in our Seoul shopping guide) few people wear suits. There isn't the conservative office culture of Japan, and most tailoring is worn by choice. 

Like Hong Kong, Seoul has always had a plethora of tailors, at a low level. It’s quite standard in a less industrialised country, and South Korea was poor for a long time after the Korean War ended. Ready-to-wear fashion really only arrived strongly in the 1990s.

Yet despite the subsequent growth of fashion, bespoke or at least personalised tailoring saw a big resurgence around 10 years ago. The trend for craft and heritage hit hard, and Seoul saw many new tailor shops set up, as well as greater awareness of those that already existed. 

B&Tailor was part of that trend. Head tailor Jung yul Park had been running his own shop since 1967, but it was when his sons caught the bug for tailoring that the style (and popularity) of the shop was transformed. Chad in particular (above) showed he had a talent for modernising bespoke style and for communicating it online. 

In fact two of the other strong tailors in Seoul, Assisi and Luca Museo, have members that worked at B&Tailor at one point. It’s still a small world, and inevitably one with intricate politics.

The first foreign-trained tailor to set up in Seoul, however, was Jeon Byeong-ha (above), who had trained in Naples with master Antonio Pascariello (a contemporary of Noriyuki Ueki, now Sartoria Ciccio in Tokyo). 

Jeon arrived back in Korea in 2013, and called his atelier Sartoria Napoletana - a name which might seem generic to us, but makes perfect sense to describe what it does to Korean customers. 

In recent years Jeon has added ready-to-wear to his offering, creating patterns for factory-made garments that are sold in his atelier and in shops such as Parlour (under the label Sartoria Jun). This was largely a reaction to a difficulty finding good apprentices, which has substantially limited the amount of bespoke he can make. 

We visited the team and saw some of the RTW, my favourite piece of which was a quilted jacket made in navy velvet (pictured top). Designed to fit over tailoring, it was the perfect length and big enough in the shoulders to cover my tweed jacket. 

We also visited the new atelier of Assisi (above), where I was having a final fitting on the light-grey summer suit (Ascot 4-ply from Drapers) we had started at Pitti. 

Assisi are everything that makes me excited about Korean tailoring. The standard of the work is good, the fit (which I experienced here) is extremely good, and they have real style. Dabin is always wearing something I’d wear, which is freakishly uncommon in bespoke. 

It makes sense when you see their atelier, because everything there is stylish. The lighting, the sound system, the furniture. There’s the kind of taste level we’re more used to seeing from MTM brands such as Saman Amel or Stoffa, but married to hand craft.

Same goes for Luca Museo (above). They have a lovely, warm space just off a major shopping street in the south side of Seoul. B&Tailor are nearby, though Jun and Assisi are in the north (Assisi in a very rich residential area - the BTS house is up the street).

Luca started the business after many years at Sartoria Vanni, one of the most established Korean tailors. The other two team members are Chan, who started as a trouser maker at B&Tailor; and Ivano, who also started there but spent time with Sartoria Raffaniello in Japan and Pirozzi in Italy. 

I started the process of making a suit with Luca Museo, so we’ll cover that when it’s finished. They come to Pitti occasionally, including in January, and that will be the mechanism for getting it done. They’re not travelling for trunk shows yet, unlike B&Tailor and Assisi. 

In terms of style, Jun is very Neapolitan but most others are a mix of influences, including some elements of Florentine tailoring. Assisi is quite generous in its cut, as I noted in my review, while Luca Museo has a penchant for roped shoulders (though they're happy to soften them). 

The one tailor that’s different in that regard is Donghyun Kim, aka Tranquil House (above). Kim trained in the UK, studying at London College of Fashion and then working on Savile Row. 

Since returning to Korea he has proved popular as the only English-style tailor, and he’s helped brands design patterns for their ready-to-wear as well. Kim has a lovely space on the second floor of a building in central Seoul, and when we were there we saw some of the ready-to-wear shirts and trousers he now offers too. 

Kim is particularly committed to the idea of ‘rock of eye’ tailoring, where some parts of a customer’s pattern are drawn freehand. “I remember how hard it was to teach that - to draw the oval shape of an armhole for instance,” he told us. “I used to go home, switch out the lights, and draw 200 ovals on my coffee table before I went to bed each night. Eventually I got it.”

Other notable tailors include Corallo Rosso, who studied at Istituto Secoli in Milan and worked as a tailor at Eduardo de Simone before returning to Korea. He’s pursued more of a tailoring academy business and many of the current generation of tailors in Korea have been students. 

There’s Hacheon, who I knew already from Sartoria Vestrucci in Florence as he had fitted me there in the past. He originally studied under Francesco Guida and only came back to Korea last year. He’s currently setting up his own local tailor under the brand name Ccalimala

And finally there’s Lerici, which is probably the best known internationally (covered here in Monocle) but recently changed gear from a formal-wear shop in an affluent area of Seoul to a more artistic outfit in a secluded house in the hills. 

They had an exhibition in the space when we visited, which was beautiful. Seoul is surrounded by four mountains and you quickly get up into the hills when you drive out. From the Lerici garden you could look down on the old town and see the broad Han river below. 

The clothing we saw was mostly womenswear and non-formal tailoring, such as quilted jackets. But a couture-like atelier behind glass panels was hand-sewing tailoring, and that was mostly what was on the racks. It feels like Lerici is less likely to appeal to PS readers, but it does demonstrate the breadth of Korean tailoring today. 

I'll go into more detail on each tailor when they are covered in more detail in the future. I'll also detail things like prices, although in general Korean tailors are at a discount to European ones, even on trunk shows. See Assisi pricing here for example. 

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Off topic, but are the extra cashmere crewnecks going to land this year? Many thanks


As a shorter (5’5) guy, I’ve heard that Asian brands might be better suited but haven’t had a chance to try them as of yet.
Are there any shops in London you’d recommend that might stock some of this stuff or who might make tops that are appropriately sized for the vertically challenged?


Hi Simon, a shorter cut and relatively slim, ideally.


Stopped in my tracks by that brown jacket with the slanted pockets !
That jacket alone needs more attention .
Any further details … cloth , price etc etc

I’ve always felt jackets lacked functionality with open chest , jackets you can’t get your hands in etc . (Probably why men would rather wear more functional coats ).
That jacket certainly addresses the useful , yet stylish , pocket .
Just need a more functional fold up , and fold down , lapel and collar and the suit jacket could be reinvented !

Prince Florizel of Bohemia

Can I ask you about the shirt you are wearing? The fabric and breast pocket suggest Oxford cloth, yet it has got a spread collar. Or is it denim or chambray? Thank you.


The eternal Al Bazar denim shirt, I’m surprised it has already fallen apart!
On a side note: “This is particularly impressive in a country where (as I noted in our Seoul shopping guide) few people where suits.” wear instead of where?


Glad you’re taking a closer look at South Korean tailors, Simon. Thanks for this. It appears as if they are influenced by a fusion of English and broader Italian styles, especially Neapolitan tailoring. There are so many across Seoul and you may also want to check out Lento Ma Forte. He was featured in Hugo Jacomet’s Sartorial Talks among a list of ten most affordable and upcoming young tailors in the world, and he’s very good. Made me two double-breasted pinstripe suits at reasonable cost for me recently Their tailors also make very good shirts at affordable prices, usually around100 Euros a piece. Haven’t tried the shirts yet though.

God of Seoul

The ship is located different city called Daegue where 3 hours away from Seoul.

Len to maforte used have shope in Seoul however, they failed to stand out compared to existing Seoul players and eventually collapsed financially.

owner of Lentomaforte went Drago’s party with Hugo doesn’t give any prove of they making good garment.
Don’t think they still even have their own tailor and coat-makers.. most of main player left the shops since they failed on their Seoul adventure.

Hope this information helps to all the readers.
There is always reason !

george rau

The wider shoulders on the dark brown tweed you are wearing look really good to me! The back of the jacket looks great also.


From Instagram, B&Tailor looks extraordinary its their ability to fit extremely well (the collars are always high and really hug the neck) and in the breadth of different styles they make, from soft/Southern to Milanese (it seems they have a particular Caraceni-esque DB model called the “Beppe” which looks bang on). Really impressive from what I can see. Did you find the same to be true in real life?


I know your previous experience with B&T was quite poor (although that was through Robin who I believe is no longer in the industry?) so hopefully, this experience turns out better for you, Simon! Their stuff has always looked lovely to me.


you say ‘it supports a large number of tailors, from cheap MTM to bespoke. Walking around Seoul, you see more tailoring-related outlets than in probably any other city, including several alterations houses that have also expanded into making their own things’ followed by the statement that few people wear suits? This clearly cant be the case if the first statement is true? A large number of tailors and alterations houses can only result from a large number of customers surely?


Did you visit Vanni? That’s one of the south korean big name in tailoring and what we see on their feed is beautiful.


Simon: About your Navajo pin. Have you ever been to the southwest? Are you familiar with Navajo craft?


You should come to New Mexico. Plenty of great dealers here.


Hi Simon, do you happen to have an article on China tailoring? Hong Kong is just a part of China, and as we know, there are many tailors in Shanghai and other cities in China as well.


Hello Simon, reposting my question from last week as you requested: now that you’ve tried Assisi, BnT and LucaMuseo, would you say that Korean tailoring has anything that feels distinct and unique to it? How would you characterize it now and where would you say it stands in comparison to Italy on the one hand, and other Asian tailors such as WW Chan on the other? In terms of make, do you think they’re a notch lower than the Japanese on average?
Also, did you look into Ascottage? They lean slightly more English owing to the cutter having trained at Cad & The Dandy, without being as traditional as Tranquil House, and although their style might not be entirely to your taste, I think they might be interesting to cover at some point in the future.


Thank you, Simon. I also find it interesting most Korean tailors tend to cut very round quarters that, at least to me, echo Florentine style. But then that’s something that a great many Asian tailors seem to do these days, such Prologue, Ivory/Negozio… (by the way do you have any plans to try the latter?).

I’m also curious as to what specifically you didn’t like about Ascottage, besides the somewhat over the top, dandy styling and garish colors at times. Their usual cut reminds me a bit of WW Chan.


Simon, in the second last picture your really starting to look like Christian Chensvold. Interesting to note how the main menswear authors seems to have similar stylistic cross overs.


I’m going to be in Korea in February so I’m excited to see this series!


Great coverage article. This is probably the first time I’ve seen such a detailed description of the tailoring map of Seoul (or Korea) in English.Thank you.
Clearly, the demand for tailoring is much lower than it was 10 years ago. The number of menswear stores that used to fill an entire floor of a department store has more than halved, but there is still a huge demand for customised wedding attire so tailoring is going on somehow. However, I think it will be difficult for a new generation to come into the market because people are becoming more uncomfortable with wearing tailoring in these days. Like Mr Jeon (Jun) and Kim from Asisi most of them were trained and came in 10-20 years ago when the fire of tailoring was hot. What I like about Korea is that you can buy decent quality suits, jackets and coats at affordable prices at outlets near Seoul. In Europe, the gap of quality and price RTW is too big, there seems to be no middle. I don’t know if it will be possible in 10 years because demand is decreasing and companies are not investing in men’s clothing.


I heard there is a Korean tailor who worked under Sartoria Ciardi. Have you had a chance to commission anything from him?


It’s @sarto_lim he makes great Neapolitan jackets!


What is the BTS house in the rich residential area? The atelier of an upmarket Korean brand?


Hello Simon, longtime PS reader (and customer) here, but first time commenting. Does Assisi ever travel to the US? You mentioned they do trunk shows but I can’t find much info on their website or socials. I like the look of their work.

Sun Il

Great coverage, Simon. Always enjoyed your city guides so seeing Seoul being a new addition to the list is just great.

Also was not expecting the mentioning of BTS House at all on PS. Who would have thought I would live to this day to witness it.

Jokes aside, I am curious to hear if you’ve ever heard the conversation with any of the tailors while you’re there — on why classic menswear is just so common? I wonder if it also collides with the fact that K-Pop idols and K-drama stars started donning a lot of tailoring some 10-12 years ago.


I have a suggestion for an article: ‘How to Live in Tailored Clothing.’

Where and how do you store your dramatic long overcoat on a train ride? Do you simply buckle the seatbelt over the delicate cashmere jacket in a cab? Where do you put your jacket on a flight? How do you avoid damaging your clothes when picking up toddlers straight after a day in the office, etc., etc.


Oh, and another pet peeve: What do you do with your expensive overcoat when you go to the cinema or a restaurant that doesn’t offer a coat check?


Out of curiosity – you got the fabric number for your new grey 4 ply summer suit?


Yeah – would definitely be interested to know – 18051 is a solid summer grey.
Merry Christmas by the way, Simon!


Hello simon do uou think assisi’s single jacket is also noce?


Hi Simon,
Thank you for sharing your knowledge of Seoul tailors.
On the topic of Asian style, Yoshimasa Hoshiba is someone who I have been following for some time. There is a classic picture with him in a doubreasted flannel suit (link below). I was wondering if you would recognize the tailor who fashioned the suit in the picture or could recommend a tailor who would be proficient at crafting a similar suit.



Appreciate the reply, thank you Simon.


Hi Simon,
Long time reader. Thanks for this lovely post.
Maybe I missed it, but will you write a full review of LucaMuseo? What do you think of the distinguishing features between these different tailors? I would love to hear your thoughts. What are the factors one should consider in selecting between these houses?


Wonderful. Look forward to ir


Hi Simon, I was wondering if you have had a chance to commission anything from Tranquil House when you went to Korea? If so, how did you find the cut and the quality?

Many thanks,