A craftsman for one: Seongsu Hand-made Shoe Street
See & Do Shopping
Hand-made shoe stores started to gather in the Seongsu station area ever since the 1990’s. In the 1960’s, these hand-made shoe stores were located around Seoul Station, and in Myeong-dong during the 70’s and 80’s, but in search of low rent places, hand-made shoe stores started to appear in Seongsu. At that time, there was a huge company that took the lead in producing good quality hand-made shoes on a mass scale. The headquarters of Elcanto and Esquire were also nearby. After the IMF incident, many companies began to flock to this area, probably due to the low rent.
In present day, there are approximately 500 different business that are related to the art of shoe-making. 217 places sell finished products, 110 places distribute raw material, and about 102 places act as the “middle men”. It’s clear to see why Seongsu is known as the mecca of hand-made shoes.
① The hand-made shoe street has everything from stores that sell leather and stores that sell the finished product: a pair of hand-made shoes. You can find everything and anything here related to shoes. ② Traces of the hand-made quality are found everywhere on this street.
The hand-made shoe stores are centrally located around exit 3 and 4 of Seongsu station. There are stores that sell completed hand-made shoes, stores that sell accessories for shoes, and stores that sell only the heel portion of shoes. SSST, which stands for Seoul Seongsu-dong Sujaehwa Town, can be considered as one of the leading handmade shoe stores in the area. SSST first opened in 2011 and is jointly operated by different people. Within 7 months of opening, it garnered 500,000,000 won in sales and was recognized as a strong business by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security.
In 2014, the city of Seoul and Seongdong-gu held an exhibition called “SHOESPOT”; this exhibition helped to revive business and also to give the public a chance to learn about shoe-making. The exhibition presented information on the history of Korean hand-made shoes, the process of making hand-made shoes, and also a map of the overall shoe street.
③ A master craftsman polishing a shoe ④ A pair of red pumps ⑤ "Shoe shoe market” – open every weekend
Orders can be roughly written down on a piece of a paper or relayed verbally to the crafstman. With mass production, the system of indicating the size, model, and number of orders started to emerge.