'K-fashion' sets eye on Asian markets
SOUTH Korean fast-fashion brands are expanding overseas, with the hope that tailoring items to Asian consumers' tastes will be a winning strategy.
South Korean fashion retailer E.Land Group has taken an aggressive lead, opening stores of its women's-apparel brand Mixxo in Japan and China, in March and last month respectively.
In China, Mixxo has stores in Super Brand Mall in Shanghai, a prime retail spot, competing directly with fast-fashion brands like Spain's Zara, Sweden's H&M and Japan's Uniqlo.
Riding on the back of Korean pop culture's popularity in China, the label aims to expand its presence there with more store openings in the works.
"Asian customers love Mixxo because of its reasonable pricing, clothes that come in a variety of colours and fit the Asian body," said Mr Chung Soo Jung, director of Global Mixxo Business Unit in the E.Land Group.
Prices are between 299 yuan (S$60) and 499 yuan in China, and between 3,990 yen (S$50) to 5,990 yen in Japan, slightly higher than the 39,900 won (S$45) to 59,900 won in South Korea.
"From the beginning, Mixxo was developed to meet the different needs of Asian women, who often have to alter the clothes they bought at Western SPA brands to fit their bodies," said Mr Chung.
SPA stands for speciality retailer of private-label apparel, more commonly known as fast fashion.
"The brand, which launched in 2010 in Korea, became popular with inexpensive pricing that enables customers to buy tops, bottoms and even accessories all at once," he said.
Mixxo, which has women in their early 20s and mid-30s as its main target customers, now aims to appeal to younger Asian women, using South Korean girl group After School as models.
Another fashion retailer, Samsung Cheil Industries, is getting ready to join the global fast-fashion race with its first overseas 8 Seconds store, scheduled to open in China next year.
From the initial brand-planning stage, the South Korean giant fashion company had Chinese consumers in mind.
"Starting with the name, we picked the number 8, the favourite number of the Chinese. The colour of the logo, red, is the colour of fortune in China," said assistant manager Kwon Eun Ju of the communication team at Samsung Cheil Industries.
In anticipation of its launch in the Chinese market next year, the company has started to raise brand awareness among foreign customers in South Korea.
Since last May, 8 Seconds has been playing audio announcements in Mandarin, Japanese and English at its major stores in Seoul.
The Garosu-gil store has become one of the must-see trendy spots in Seoul for Japanese tourists.
"Japanese customers make up half of the daily sales at the Garosu-gil store on our best-selling days," said 8 Seconds director Ahn Seon Jin.
The brand aims to gain ground in the global fashion competition by focusing on specific needs that the better-known brands miss. The niche that the company is targeting lies between Japanese casual-wear brand Uniqlo and trend-conscious Zara and H&M.
"We found that more than 60 per cent of customers at Uniqlo are men who like basic casual items, and more than 70 per cent of customers at Zara and H&M are women who prefer stylish and trendy designs. The brand has set different approaches specific to different age and gender groups," said a brand-analysis report prepared by the company before its launch in South Korea last year.
The brand has positioned itself as a trendy casual-wear brand offering products ranging from basic casual items to stylish items for trend-conscious consumers.
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK