Traditional fashion brands eclipsed by sportswear and luxury goods manufacturers
By Kim Jae Heun
The Korean fashion industry has undergone drastic changes in recent years, with traditional clothing brands run by large business groups increasingly losing their brilliance to sportswear manufacturers and foreign luxury brands, according to industry officials.
The so-called “big 3” fashion makers―Samsung C&T Fashion Group, LF and Kolon FnC―have recently lost market share to sports brands like Fila and Adidas and international luxury companies like Louis Vuitton and Gucci .
Moreover, in the past two years, many online fashion platforms have grown rapidly amid the pandemic. These changes would have had a significant impact on the decline of the big three’s market shares, the officials said.
According to market watcher Euromonitor, Japanese retailer Uniqlo and Samsung fashion brand Beanpole C&T have reigned as the two biggest fashion companies here for the past five years. However, Samsung C&T Fashion Group has barely maintained its status as the top fashion company in recent years and its Beanpole brand is fading into obscurity.
Beanpole held a 2.5% market share from 2017 to 2019, but it fell to 2.4% in 2020 and 2.3% in 2021.
Samsung C&T collaborated with renowned Korean fashion designer Jung Kuho to revitalize Beanpole as part of the brand’s 30th anniversary in 2019, targeting younger customers. Jung launched the 890311 sub-brand under Beanpole, but it failed to catch the public eye and went out of business last year.
A market insider said Beanpole’s sales grew at a slower rate than the overall fashion market, leading to a slow decline in its market share.
“Fashion brands’ sales are increasing as the market expands, but their market share is decreasing because their growth rate is not keeping up with the overall fashion market,” said Moon Kyung-sun, researcher at Euro Monitor.
In 2021, the size of the domestic fashion market reached 43.3 trillion won ($33.2 billion), up 7.5% from the previous year.
However, Samsung’s C&T fashion unit dismissed its recent struggles saying it had shown a rebound since the country started to reopen after an easing of COVID-19 quarantine measures. “The company managed to make a breakthrough in the first half of this year, so we are not worried about new entrants. We expect double-digit growth in the second half of this year,” said an official from Samsung C&T Fashion Group. .
The activities of LF and Kolon FnC are also down
Kolon FnC’s leading fashion brand, Kolon Sports, is also losing market share. In 2017, Kolon Sports was the fifth-largest local fashion brand with 1.7% market share, but it fell to 1.4% last year, putting it in ninth place in the ranking.
LF’s fashion business is also stagnating.
Its biggest fashion brand, Daks, has maintained a 1.9% market share for three years since 2019. LF’s other fashion brand, Hazzys, has failed to maintain its market share of 0, 8%, which it reached in 2017, and which fell to 0.7% in 2020.
“It is true that our fashion brands have not fared well during the pandemic, but they have shown a rapid recovery recently. For Hazzys, its revenue created between April and May soared more than 30% year on year. the other,” an LF official said.
Fila and Adidas chasing the Big 3 aggressively
Sports brands Fila and Adidas are closing in on the lost market share of the Big 3. Fila managed to grow its share from 1% in 2017 to 2.1% in 2020 and 2021 to become the third largest fashion brand here. Adidas is second only to Fila, with its market share dropping from 1.7% to 2% over the same period.
“As a result of the pandemic, many people are going out for outdoor activities. Here, sports brands have targeted young customers who enjoy outdoor sports like golf and tennis. In addition, brands sportswear have started making clothes suitable for everyday use, whereas before they only focused on the functionality of the products. This leads to an increase in sales for sportswear brands,” said an official from the sportswear company. sport.
For luxury brands, French designer Louis Vuitton recorded a market share of 0.2% last year compared to 0.1% in 2020. Gucci also increased its market share by 0.4% a year ago. five years to 0.6% last year.
“Sales of luxury companies over the past two years have increased dramatically thanks to the “revenge consumption” trend triggered by COVID-19. Because people could not travel abroad, they are instead spending money in luxury goods. Luxury companies have benefited the most from the pandemic because people would not have bought such expensive handbags and clothes if they had had the opportunity to travel abroad “said a manager of a luxury fashion company.