The South Korea is on the rise. It is this destination that the Chinese now favor over Hong Kong for their luxury purchases, but also to breathe in the latest trends and discover new brands likely to develop successfully in their country. The luxury brands have understood this well, multiplying initiatives and store openings in the Land of the Morning Calm.
In August, the Hyundai Department Store group opened Korea’s 2nd largest department store in the Pangyo district, Korea’s “Silicon Valley”, in the city of Seongnam, south-east of Seoul, where several companies are already present. other brands such as Lotte Department Store, Shinsegae Department Store and AK Plaza. On this occasion, many international luxury brands have set up shop in shops such as Prada or the Italian menswear label Canali, at its beginnings in this market, to name only the most recent.
In June, Dior chose Seoul’s Gangnam district to set up its largest store in Asia, a spectacular six-story building designed by architect Christian de Portzamparc. At the same time, the Maison presented its “Esprit Dior” exhibition in Seoul throughout the summer. Chanel preceded her in May, presenting her Cruise 2016 collection in the South Korean capital, her very first show in South Korea.
Another recent initiative is that of Lanvin, which launched in early September, specifically in this market, a line of accessories called Lanvin Collection Accessory, in partnership with its Korean distributor Handsome, owned by the Hyundai Department Store group.
“Koreans are very fashion conscious. Compared to the Japanese, they have a little more “delirium” side. Luxury and fashion allow them to stand out from the group, ”explains Patricia Brafman, director of the international service of the French Federation of Women’s Ready-to-Wear.
“They are also the most connected population in the world with an Internet penetration rate of 91%, while 67% of them are equipped with smartphones,” she continues. This forward-looking high-tech market is particularly attractive to fashion houses, especially as Korea has become the preferred destination for Chinese buyers. The latter especially adore the look and style of Koreans, considered to be the trendsetters of Asia.
“Korean brands are extremely dynamic, sharp and creative, and sell very well in China. Suddenly, if a European brand manages to be sold in the same stores as Korean labels, it has every chance of being spotted by Chinese buyers, ”emphasizes Patricia Brafman.
“Before, the Chinese watched Hong Kong. Now they are looking to Korea. If you want to develop in China, you have to be in Korea. This country has become the showcase for Asian fashion, ”she said.
With this in mind, the fashion institutions of European countries are increasing their explorations in this Asian country. The French Federation of Women’s Ready-to-Wear will organize a very first mission there next March with a selection of French brands still little known on the spot. Spaniards and Italians, on the other hand, are already very active there.
Responsible for promoting Made in Italy products abroad, Ente Moda Italia (EMI) has already brought in no less than seven Italian business collectives. The last mission, in July, brought together 27 brands, attracting 500 buyers in two days. The next one will be held at the end of January. “Our textile and clothing exports jumped 28% to Korea in Q1 2015. It is a strategic market for our companies,” said EMI President Antonio Gavazzeni.
“Even though it is still a small market limited mainly to Seoul and a few other cities, Korea is a doubly interesting country for our businesses. First of all, he has a great culture of clothing. More and more Korean brands are moving upmarket and using Italian fabrics, ”notes SMI President Claudio Marenzi.
“On the other hand, the Chinese consumer, especially in the high end, remains historically suspicious of China, preferring to buy luxury goods in Japan or Korea,” he adds.
Seoul is confirming itself more than ever as the new trendy destination in Asia. As proof of this, the famous fashion journalist Suzy Menkes has chosen this Asian metropolis to organize the 2nd international conference on the luxury of Condé Nast next year.
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