Don't sleep on K-sauce
The incredible finale of our Seoul Recon Report
Welcome to Blackbird Spyplane. This past Tuesday we rolled out The Wonders of Seoul, Part 1, focused on my favorite food market and a bunch of local designers making cool clothes.
Today’s the “Seoul Swag Finale,” and your boy Young Spyplane a.k.a. Mach3avelli is coming through with a ton more Korean Sauce intel, such as:
A very sick, very nicely priced new Seoul-based Yohji Yamamoto archive that ships internationally
Museums, bookstores, food, drinks, nature walks, and other special places to chill out and ennoble your spirit
Crucial navigational-logistics intel & a couple lodging leads for you
A tight clutch of the sickest shops in town, and more !
LET’S GET TO IT
One of the most fascinating dudes I met in Seoul is Jihyun Lee, who runs a museum-quality showroom of rare & unique pieces called 📀 Rattamontta. I caught wind of him through Spyfriend Keith Henry of Henry’s. “His stuff is some of the rarest/ best globally,” Keith said — then added: “So it can come at a super high price.” A few days later Spyfriend Leo Gamboa of Levi’s separately bigged up Rattamontta, too, so I knew it was a must-hit…
Ji’s showroom is awesome. His main focus is on early- to mid-20th-century workwear & militaria: “I don’t care about ‘Y2K vintage’,” he said. So there’s some modern, graphics-forward joints on hand — like an old cyanotype Chet Baker tee, a very rare ‘80s Apple hoodie (both bottom left above) and a cool weird bootleg ‘70s tee where Mickey Mouse is chiefing loud (top right, on the wall behind Ji) — but the majority of his collection is unlikely treasure plumbed deep from the annals of “utilitarian” clothing: a G.I.’s hand-painted duffel bag (above bottom right); a hand-embroidered Korean “Souvenir” jacket (above right); the odd $20,000 near-deadstock 1950s Levi’s Type II jacket (above left, which sold a few days before my visit)…
And, pictured above, very vibey deep-cut South Korean camo jawns. This is a special interest of Ji’s, and while there’s many examples of ROKA camo, his favorite pattern sets lively black pop-art-type squiggles against white fields. He explained that these designs were worn by students enrolled in ROTC-type programs from about 1961 till 1996 — a period roughly coincident with South Korea’s brutal U.S.-backed military dictatorship. “Different cities and different schools all had different patterns,” Ji said, identifying one particularly tight anthropomorphic example, above right, as “Turtle and Dino camo.”
Using some deadstock rolls, Ji made a small batch of OG Korean camo caps — he’s selling them at a Rattamontta pop-up at L.A. Vintage Rendezvous in Glendale next month, September 8 & 9, FYI.
He also pointed out how one camo pattern, highlighted above left, incorporates a silhouette of the (unified) Korean peninsula — a resemblance I totally missed and, Ji told me with some emotion, that was initially lost on his own kid, too. Part of what he’s trying to do with Rattamontta is hash out what contemporary Korean identity means as it relates to vintage gear, domestic and foreign (America and Japan dominate the global vintage game, but do not have blessed track records, to put it mildly, when it comes to actions in the peninsula) and this particular camo obsession is just one reflection of that…
Rattamontta is appointment-only, DM Ji about a visit.
Ji wasn’t the only tasteful prince who invited me into a rarefied showroom stocked with bygone slappers. Seoul is also home to a fantastic new vintage Yohji Yamamoto archive in Yongsan, with pieces for men and women.
The selection is excellent and the prices are great. I wound up copping a beautifully cut oversize early-‘00s Y’s for Men dark-olive melton-wool suit for $240. And they ship internationally: