K-Actor Ahn Hyo-Seop Takes Us Around Gentle Monster’s New Philippine Flagship

Courtesy of Gentle Monster

Courtesy of Gentle Monster

Renowned for their whimsical spaces and Asian-tailored frames, innovative Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster officially arrives in the Philippines on October 17. 

Swing the door open to Gentle Monster’s first Philippine flagship, and a bona fide gentle monster actually greets you. The 26-foot man is perched on a withering bungalow, his feet on the ground and head a mere meter from the ceiling. (For scale, a five-foot frame stands face-to-face with his shin.) Eyes softly shut, he’s at a momentary rest or in the middle of meditation. Let your gaze fall elsewhere and you’ll notice the large eyeball, its brow piercing not quite healed, and the cemented rhinoceros, frozen mid-walk on iridescent slabs.

Interior of Gentle Monster PH store.
Courtesy of Gentle Monster

These surrealist sculptures are only a part of what distinguishes the disruptive South Korean-born eyewear brand. It was founded by Hankook Kim specifically for the Asian market, led by the mission of creating oversized frames to create the illusion of a petite face, which he describes as “the biggest compliment” in South Korea. Gentle Monster’s sun and optical lenses are also designed with a “low-bridge fit,” to accommodate the typical Asian facial structure. Since its inception in 2011, the retailer has garnered a cultish clientele both within and beyond Asia. Their collaboration with Paris-based D’heygere, for instance, was a favorite among the likes of Blackpink’s Lisa, and is already scheduled for a restock in December. 

Their Manila flagship brings the brand’s innovative brick-and-mortar concept to the tropics, introducing a highly visual shopping experience to the Philippine crowd. Uncanny installations are peppered across the shop floor, but they don’t take away from the eyewear displays—in fact, they serve to elevate.

Glasses at Gentle Monster PH store.
Photo by Borgy Angeles
Sunglasses at Gentle Monster PH store.
Photo by Borgy Angeles

Stocking bestsellers, the store will also house their upcoming collaboration with French luxury house Maison Margiela. The collection will feature futuristic frames in classic black and white, alongside cyan- and lemon-tinted variations.

It’s a day of many Gentle Monster launches, including that of their newest house ambassador, Ahn Hyo-Seop. Celebrated for his performances in Dr. Romantic and the Netflix hit series Business Proposal, the South-Korea-born, Canada-raised actor currently stars in Netflix’s A Time Called You. Most recently, he wrapped up a Philippine fanmeet in tandem with local retailer Bench.

Stopping by Gentle Monster Manila, the K-star lets Vogue Philippines in on his must-try frames, his favorite part of the Philippine boutique, and what he loves most about the country.

Vogue: How do you feel about your visit to the first Gentle Monster flagship in the Philippines?

Ahn Hyo-Seop: So happy to be visiting the first Philippine Gentle Monster flagship. I always look forward to Gentle Monster’s innovative and novel spaces, so I’m very excited for this new store as well.

What is the most striking aspect of the Gentle Monster Manila flagship, and what sets it apart from other Gentle Monster stores? 

The sculpture of the giant is the most eye-catching part of this space—I think it really shows off the huge scale of the Philippine flagship. The uncanny and surreal feelings that I experienced while in the store are also quite memorable. The astounding scale of this flagship store certainly leaves a lasting impression.

Tell us about your favorite Gentle Monster frames. What is a must-try-on at the Gentle Monster Manila flagship?

The Musee sunglasses that I was wearing are perfect for everyday wear. Also, these frames from Gentle Monster’s optical line, EP, which actually haven’t been released yet, work well with any fit. They will be launching early November! The details on these frames are remarkable and can definitely highlight any look.

Lastly, since you’re in the Philippines, what is your favorite thing about the country? 

I think the people. From the first time I’ve visited up to this moment, everyone’s bright smiles and laughter have left a lasting impression. I have such great memories here and am looking forward to making more. Thank you!

Gentle Monster Manila is located on 5th Avenue in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, and will be open from 11:00AM to 10:00PM on Sundays to Thursdays, and 11:00AM to 11:00PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

Video by BORGY ANGELES. Digital Editor: ANDREA ANG. Producer: BIANCA ZARAGOZA. Multimedia Artist: TINKERBELL POBLETE. Videographer’s Assistant: PAO MENDOZA.

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