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Are Gangnam hair salons overpriced?

  • Published : Jan 14, 2016 - 15:39
  • Updated : Jan 14, 2016 - 15:39

Speculations are growing over whether hair salons in one of Seoul’s ritziest areas, Cheongdam-dong in northern Gangnam district, is overpriced.

The area in southern Seoul that spans from Apgujeong Rodeo to Cheongdam-dong, is not only full of shopping malls selling designer brand products, but it has also become a mecca for beauty-related businesses including hair salons run by designers with almost celebrity-like popularity.

(The Herald Business)
The homegrown luxury beauty hair salon branches are pricey, as expected of establishments frequented by celebrities.

However, they appear to be bending regulations that require prices to be made public. Some of them, instead, reveal only the lowest prices on offer. Often the disclosed prices are described as being for “basic services.”

The salons’ prices are said to cater to the high end market, with prices for more comprehensive services often being prohibitive to “ordinary” people and tourists.

At the 3-decade-old Able Cheongdam salon, a basic haircut for women costs 60,000 won ($49.50). However, the cost of having an experienced designer work on your hair is 10 percent higher than that of the basic cut.

Chahong Ardor, run by hair designer-turned-celebrity Cha Hong, opened its branch in Cheongdam-dong on July 2013. It said the price for a rank-and-file staffs’ haircut stands at 55,000 won, while the rates go to 66,000 won, 77,000 won and 150,000 won depending on designers’ level of experience. The shop requires up to 400,000 won for a perm.

(Able Cheongdam's official facebook account)
(Chahong Ardor's official website)
Jenny House, another establishment frequented by celebrities, said the cost of women’s haircut ranges from 55,000 won to 110,000 won, at most. Prices for having a haircut in Soonsoo, which opened its fourth branch in Cheongdam-dong in 2013, vary from 44,000 won to 77,000 won.

According to the hair salons in Cheongdam-dong, customers can find out the varying price after they consult with staff, so that they can pick the best hair designers.

“Customers may get a higher discount,” a store staff member said on condition of anonymity. “It depends.”

Salons added customers visiting Cheongdam-dong are accustomed to such practices.

“Most of the customers don’t consider the cost of service as a priority,” said another staff member at a hair salon in Gangnam district, who refused to be named. “They expect it to be costly to some extent. However, they are stunned when they hear the price after consultation.”

(Jenny House's official website)
(Soonsoo's official facebook account)
Three years ago, the Korean government rolled out plans to ban such practices, which were of little avail.

The average price of a women’s haircut in 2015 was 16,956 won in Korea and 19,891 won in Seoul, according to data from a civic group advocating female customers’ rights.

However, some appear content with the upscale Cheongdam-dong experience, despite the expense.

“I think, to some degree, I feel superior to others,” said an anonymous Korean customer, who recently dyed her hair in Gangnam. “I get refreshed when I visit the shop in Cheongdam. It is a very different feeling from visiting an ordinary hair salon in my neighborhood.”

By Son Ji-hyoung (json@heraldcorp.com)


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