K-Trend: Newtro in Korea
When we dove into the world of vintage/ retro cakes we quickly saw a returning pattern. Cakes weren’t the only old school thing that was growing to be more and more popular, we're seeing an ever-growing love for all kinds of retro stuff.
We first noticed in Ikseondong (익선동) and on the 맛집 (delicious place) tag; there was - and still is - a huge influx in places that either look old school and/or serve old school food. And then we discovered that this is an actual trend! Actually, a global trend!: There’s a huge trend going on worldwide, all about nostalgia and romanticizing, wanting, making or craving things from their youth or even a time before they were born. People have speculated the trend started because of our globalizing world and the insane speeds we are developing; people are nostalgic for their childhood or simpler times. In Korea this is manifesting as Newtro.
What is Newtro? Well the word is a combination of new and retro; but the style is this really intriguing mix and reinterpretation of modern lifestyle/culture and retro Korean things.
We're seeing it everywhere. From the hanok cafes and restaurants in Ikseondong (익선동) to Euljiro (을지로3가) now called Hip-jiro (힙지로) by many because of its super trendy hole-in-the-wall and secret places hidden around the neighborhood. Both areas could have almost been considered shanty towns, but were transformed by a few people opening up stores, cafes and restaurants there that the youth of Korea really liked, and word got out fast.
We're seeing it in the renewed love for either old ajumma places or Korean bunsik (snacks?) places with a vintage retro vibe. There are now both retro looking chain stores specializing in Korean snack food, and a growing number of young people joining the older generation for old school fun at old school places. Speaking of old-school places, there is now also a project called “Orae gage” meaning old shop, or a shop that lasts a long time: This project is, we believe, currently run by the Korean government (vitisseoul.net) and it was set up to try and make an effort to both map and promote old stores in the hopes of making them last a long time, and we honestly believe they could!
Old beer and old soju bottles are making a comeback, but people are also making their own craft beers now! You’ve probably heard of Jinro by now, the soju in the blue bottle (with the cute toad), but have you also heard of OB Lager (오비 라거)? This is another beer brand that came back with their retro bottle from the 70’s/80’s, both reminding the older generations of their youth, and exciting the younger generations with something they’d never seen before. And those new craft beers? A lot of bars and cafes are now making their own beers and designing their own cans. We found a lot of craft beers at the sul-permarket (sul being alcohol) in Yeonnamdong so if you’d like to try some special Korean beers we'd recommend going there!
Food, restaurants, cafes and even fashion and design are all impacted by this retro trend. We personally love the re-imagination of old Korean stuff, we'd seen it before on post cards and stickers but we're very happy to see it be more prevalent and popular! We wonder what this trend will move towards. In North America and Europe we’re seeing the 90’s, the 2000’s and vintage/retro things all make a (reimagined) comeback, almost simultaneously, so we wonder if we’re going to see more Korean trends from before make a return as well? We've been seeing the tags kitsch and camp pop up here and there, so we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes on that! What do you think is going to be the next area?
Want to see more newtro things? Look up #뉴트로 #힙지로 #익선동 #을지로맛집 #키츠 #빈티지 #오래된맛집 #올드스쿨룩 #옛날- (+ anything)
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