The Gangnam branch of Shinsegae Department Store south of the Han River is one of best-selling stores for women's clothing, earning W1.3 trillion a year (US$1=W1,152).
One designer seems to have made it in highly competitive area of young fashion brands, ranking among the top five in terms of sales less than a year after launching her brand boutique inside the department store, even though her name is not widely known. U Ji-eun (38) created her own fashion brand and does all of the designing herself. Yet her background is different from the stereotypical pedigree of her top-selling rivals in this affluent area of southern Seoul.
Designer U Ji-eun poses in her shop at a Shinsegae Department Store in Seoul.
She majored in art at Mokwon University in Daejeon and opened a tiny store in the blue-collar Dongdaemun market. "What I learned from Dongdaemun is how to produce and supply clothes quickly, and that formula worked at the department store", U said. "I was quick to sense the changing tastes of consumers and immediately reflected that in my clothes".
Her summer jackets sell in the W200,000 range, while T-shirts cost between W30,000 to W40,000 -- just 70 to 80 percent of what other brands charge. "Whether you're selling clothes in Dongdaemun or at a department store, customers can't resist good clothes at reasonable prices", she said.
Just a year ago, she started selling some of her clothes alongside seven other brands in an outlet inside the department store showcasing new designers.
U's brand was the only one that survived, and she was given the green light to open her own shops at the Gangnam and Yeongdeungpo branches in August last year. It was the first time that an obscure designer opened an exclusive shop this way.
"After I graduated from college, the Asian financial crisis came and my father's business went bankrupt, so I headed to Dongdaemun to make money", U said. "I worked day and night there and made money, but I didn't want to remain unknown there. I hope that my brand can grow further".
Source : english.chosun.com/si... ( English Korean )
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