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South Korea is in the spotlight. That’s both good and bad for domestic fashion brands.
The country has long held its place as Asia’s trendsetter, but it’s also known for its endless fascination with K-pop stars Blackpink and BTS, and Korean pop culture in general, high demand among locals and tourists alike, and It has risen in recent years thanks to government support for foreign operators. LVMH-owned Dior, Kering’s Gucci, and French designer brand Ami have all targeted South Korea for fashion shows, openings, and parties.
This global craving for Korean culture has increased the prominence of South Korea on the world stage. But for emerging local fashion brands, that means stiff competition at home, where support for local talent is already weak.
In South Korea’s culturally homogenous market, creativity and commerciality have long been at odds, says Seoul-based fashion designer Dongjun Lim.it is also dominated by zaibatsuor Korean conglomerates such as Lotte, Hyundai and Shinsegae (which brought Acne Studios, Proenza Schouler and Loewe to South Korea in 2013, a year after launching Celine and Emilio Pucci) to their Due to strong financial capabilities and extensive distribution network.
Unlike cities such as London and Copenhagen, where emerging brands struggle to join the official Fashion Week schedule, many Korean designers avoid Seoul Fashion Week due to its low international attendance and recognition. . Buyers were also uninterested, with many local boutiques often preferring international fashion brands to their own brands, believing they were “better” and priced the same. . Lim believes this environment makes it difficult for Korean creatives to innovate. “Most Korean fashion customers like Japanese and Western brands. They don’t buy domestic brands.”
As a result, many Korean designers are playing it safe, focusing on affordable everyday basics, Lim says. I don’t try designs, because no one buys them.”
Now, a cohort of emerging South Korean designers are bucking trends with bold designs and global growth strategies that have caught the attention of fashionable shoppers in the country.
social media launchpad
Lim’s conceptual menswear brand has garnered national and international attention. In 2018, he and his Sookyo Jeong co-founded his Post Archive Faction (PAF). PAF uses technical and versatile fabrics to create artful, structured silhouettes. Since 2020, PAF has presented its collections directly to buyers in its Paris showroom. In 2021, the brand has been shortlisted for the LVMH Prize. Today, we count over 40 global stockers, including Ssense, H Lorenzo and Dover Street Market. His PAF, which has been self-financed thus far, is profitable, with 2021 earnings at his $2 million. The brand will close from about $4 million to $5 million by the end of 2022, and sales will increase by 200%, Lim says.