South Korea emerges as key battleground for global luxury brands

(Source: Korea Bizwire)

Major tourist attractions in South Korea are increasingly becoming a battleground for global luxury brands, with Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton (LVMH) and Kering Group, the world’s leading luxury goods companies, staging a battle of pride with their flagship brands Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

The competition is fierce, as Louis Vuitton rented out the Some Sevit floating islands in Seoul’s Han River for its first-ever pre-fall fashion show, while Gucci announced an exclusive show at Gyeongbokgung Palace next month.

Louis Vuitton’s pre-fall collection fashion show is a noteworthy event, as it highlights the first official appearance of womenswear creative director Nicolas Ghesquière in Korea.

On the other hand, it has been 25 years since Gucci opened its first store in Seoul in 1998. Gucci’s upcoming show is equally remarkable for its twists and turns, as last year’s event was nearly canceled due to controversy over a hanbok photo shoot at the Blue House that was stirred up by a fashion magazine.

Source: Korea Bizwire

The Itaewon tragedy happened just before the rescheduled event and it was postponed again. Despite these setbacks, Gucci did not give up on the Gyeongbokgung fashion show, showing how important Korea is to the Kering Group, according to the luxury industry.

French luxury brand Dior also presented its Fall 2022 Women’s Collection at Ewha Womans University in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, last April. It has been 15 years since Dior’s 60th anniversary Asia Pacific fashion show at Seoul Olympic Park in 2007.

South Korea’s luxury goods market was valued at $14.7 billion (about 17 trillion won) in 2021, up 4.4 percent from the previous year, making it the seventh largest in the world. According to U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley, South Koreans spend $325 (about KRW 400,000) per capita on luxury goods every year, ranking first in the world.

The strong influence of Korean culture, or K-content, which drives the Hallyu boom, on the rest of Asia, including China, has made Korea one of the most important countries in the global luxury industry.

As the domestic luxury market grows, more luxury brands are entering Korea directly. French luxury brand Celine entered the Korean market directly in January after ending its contract with Shinsegae International.

Thom Browne, which was exclusively sold by Samsung C&T’s fashion division, will also enter the Korean market in July by establishing a Korean subsidiary, Thom Browne Korea.

LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Fendi, and Kering, which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta, are traditional rivals in the luxury market, ranking first and second in sales.

However, LVMH’s recent performance has been dominant, with revenue of US$23.4 billion in the first quarter of this year, while Kering’s revenue was only $5.6 billion.

This story was originally published by Yonhap, via Korea Bizwire.

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