Kyle Anderson may not be a household name, but in fashion, he’s a star — a street style star. With actual amazing fashion cred. Anderson is the Market & Accessories Director at Marie Claire magazine and, prior to that, held a similar position at Elle. In addition to his flair for always dressing the part, Anderson is obsessed with all things having to do with Korea: the food, the music and the fashion, of course. Here is his Seoul Blackbook.
YOU HAVE A SPECIAL LOVE FOR SEOUL, WHY?
When I was in high school, I attended an international boarding school in the US that had many students from South Korea. They shared my obsession for fashion and designers, so we instantly clicked and, in turn, I became intrigued with Seoul. So much so, I studied abroad in Korea twice and then, after college, I lived in Seoul assisting a professor who needed help with a translation project.
HOW HAS SEOUL CHANGED SINCE YOU WERE THERE AS A STUDENT?
Completely. After attending Yonsei University until around 2001, I didn’t have the opportunity to return until 2014 when I attended Seoul Fashion Week. I was in culture shock. It was like time travel; one day, I knew everything about a city and, well, 13 years later, I was standing in the same spot and everything was gone. I still love Korean food, language, fashion and I’m completely obsessed with K-Pop, but Korea has changed quite a bit in the past decade and, I might add, in the best possible way. I recently visited Seoul again for the Spring/Summer 2017 Collections at Seoul Fashion Week and the city I love had changed and grown yet again.
FAVORITE HOTEL AND WHY:
I recently stayed at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, which I would definitely recommend to friends. Over many decades, this hotel has hosted dignitaries, including presidents, and celebrities. I’ve also stayed at the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul, which was comfortable and, like the Grand Hyatt, also in a great location. Location is important in Seoul; you want to be able to walk directly out of your hotel and have restaurants, shops and sights within walking distance and the Marriott was great in that way.
Honestly? I’ve never had a bad meal in Seoul. Korea is well known for its food; if you’ve ever had it, you know what I’m talking about. From fast food to eating in a luxury restaurant, all are amazing. Here’s what I will say: everyone should try Korean BBQ at least once in their life. I’ve never met a person who didn’t like it.
FAVORITE DIVE WITH THE BEST FOOD:
One of my favorite fast food snacks that you can buy anywhere on the street is Tteokbokki, which is rice pounded into small chewy sticks doused in a spicy sauce. It’s a favorite snack of basically everyone in Korea and is very popular for middle school and high school students to eat with their friends after school. And it’s cheap. You can usually buy it on the street for a couple of dollars.
BEST MARKET TO VISIT:
There are a lot of markets, like Namdaemun and Dongdaemun markets, which tourists love to check out. They sell anything and everything you can think of… even things you would have never imagined buying. They really do have it all.
I love going to the department stores and looking at Korean brands, it’s part of my job, anyway. They are all high quality and the prices are relatively low. I have clothes from the ‘90s that I bought in Korea that I still wear.
IF YOU ARE VISITING SEOUL FOR THE FIRST TIME, WHAT ARE 3 THINGS YOU MUST BUY OR TRY BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
FOOD 100%. Korean BBQ is first, followed by jajangmyeon – it comes from traditional Chinese food but, of course, Korea has made it its own. It’s a bit like the Korean version of Italian spaghetti pomodoro and is likely the most popular delivery food in South Korea, as it’s very inexpensive and delicious. Third is Tteokbokki, for the reasons I outlined above.
FAVORITE MUSEUM OR TOURIST SPOT:
I love to people watch in Seoul. I love street fashion and I love to see what young people in different countries wear. Korea has amazing street style. People are extremely invested in the way they look, so for someone who loves fashion, it’s paradise. I suggest taking a walk around Myeongdong (huge shopping area packed with lots of young people). Apgujeong-dong or Cheongdam-dong (which are next to each other) both have a lot of shopping and these are the “Beverly Hills” and “Bel Air” of Seoul. Finally, head to Gangnam to see all of the plastic surgery clinics — it will literally blow your mind.
CORSO COMO OR BOON THE SHOP?
I am impressed by both. You should definitely check out the massive Corso Como store in Seoul – it has so many cool items, but I would say Boon The Shop is the store with the most buzz at the moment.
GANGNAM STYLE OR K-POP?
I’m obsessed with K-Pop. I think it’s what keeps me young!!!
Grand Hyatt Seoul| 322 Sowol-ro Itaewon-dong | + 82 2 797 1234
JW Marriot Hotel | 279, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu| +82 2 2276 3000
Corso Como | 79 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu | + 82 2 547 3010
Boon the Shop | 17 Apgujeong-ro 60-gil, Cheongdam-dong