중앙데일리

Italian fashion brand seeks to conquer Korea’s middle market

Feb 13,2007
The newly reborn Laltramoda has been made bigger and stronger by seasoned fashion executive Han Sang-oak, inset. Provided by Deck
Purveyors of fashion at Laltramoda’s launch event last week realized that the Korean fashion industry might soon see happier times and that the extreme polarization between super-brands and cheap knock-offs may be coming to an end. They sensed a new era in Korean fashion that allows for the coexistence of all brands, be they global or local.

“In the past decade, the Korean market was driven by the image and price of luxury products. Now consumers need to move away from high-end products,” said Han Sang-oak, president of SE International, which imports and distributes Laltramoda. “It’s time to be practical and think about the value of the product.”
In Korea, Laltramoda, an Italian fashion brand, was sold in small boutiques, in limited quantities, along with dozens of other relatively unknown imported brands. Laltramoda was originally launched in 1991 in Milan and has over 100 stores worldwide. The brand has remained highly fashionable, even if it never became part of the pret-a-porter elite. Mr. Han, formerly the chief executive of Christian Dior Korea, foresees a new direction in the Korean fashion market and decided to develop Laltramoda, even though the brand had been around for a few years.
“Quality is good, price is good. I found it to be a brand with a great value,” he said, comparing it with the likes of Jill Stewart and Vanessa Bruno.
He said he spent the last six months clearing up legal issues so that he could have exclusive rights. Mr. Han began handling luxury fashion brands in 1988 when he worked at the Shinsegae Department Store as a brand manager, handling a number of import labels such as Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Escada.

Mr. Han’s first step for Laltramoda was to “show the brand and its collection in every detail from marketing to retail to VIP customer management,” said Mr. Han, dressed in a slim black suit by Dior Homme.
The collection indeed has a full range of wearable, fashionable dresses, ensembles and separates that can easily be worn during the day or to evening functions. There were roomy shorts worn with leggings, a blouse atop a slim knee-length skirt and a glittering flapper dress. Each piece has four main looks that are interchangeable with other styles. “I want Dior customers to come in and say, ‘I can wear this with my Dior.’”
In Korea, a Laltramoda cocktail dress costs up to 1.5 million won (about $1,400) but is considered “cheap” by shoppers who expect a dress to cost twice that amount. For a start, SE International is aiming to sell 150 million won worth of Laltramoda per month from the brand’s first store, which is due to open inside Galleria Department Store next month.

“But in the retail business, sales figures are not as important as the rate of growth,” Mr. Han noted.
He also believes import brands shouldn’t sell just the basic lines so as to play safe in the market. “Instead of selling basic stuff, we will listen to advice from Italian buyers to reflect international trends ― because I hate basic.”

By Ines cho Staff Writer [inescho@joongang.co.kr]



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