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Fashion picks up speed with 8seconds

Cheil Industries’ new label is aiming to challenge global brands

Mar 05,2012
8seconds, Cheil Industries’ first fast fashion label, launched on Feb. 23. The fashion arm of Samsung aims to open a total of 10 stores nationwide by year’s end. Provided by Cheil Industries

Following in the footsteps of its local competitors LG Fashion and E-Land, Cheil Industries has recently launched its own fast fashion label, 8seconds. The company opened two stores in two major fashion districts in Seoul - one on Garosugil in southern Seoul on Feb. 23 and the other in Myeongdong in central Seoul the following day.

“8seconds is Cheil Industries’ first SPA brand, targeting the global fashion market,” said Kim Jin-myeon, managing director of Cheil, the fashion arm of Samsung. “With it, we intend to defend the attack of global SPA brands on the Korean market while advancing into the global fashion market beginning in 2015.”

8seconds’ first store opened on the trendy Garosugil in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, on Feb. 23.
SPA is short for specialty retailer of private-label apparel, which is widely identified with fast fashion.

Global fast fashion brands have made major gains in the Korean apparel industry in recent years. According to statistics from the Samsung Fashion Institute, the three major global SPA brands - Uniqlo, Zara and H&M - have grown an average of 56 percent in the past three years. In contrast, the entire Korean fashion market posted an annual growth of 3.9 percent last year.

8seconds’ goal of gaining ground in the global fashion market is clear in its slogan, which reads: “Cheaper than Zara, trendier than Uniqlo.”

The products at 8seconds will be 30 percent cheaper than those at Zara and are equipped with a “diverse range of colors and designs incomparable to Uniqlo,” Park Chul-gyu, director of overseas product department at Cheil, told a press conference at the Garosugil store on Feb. 21.

Through the 8seconds brand, Cheil says it wants to “express its confidence in captivating customers in eight seconds.”

But the overwhelming variety of apparel - from womenswear to menswear, denim, underwear and lounge wear - and accessories put forth by the brand begs the question of whether a wide selection is better than a unified brand identity.

One section of the Garosugil store is reminiscent of Uniqlo, while another replicates a few high fashion designer brands. And just as at H&M or Zara stores, two of the most popular global fast fashion brands, the 8seconds stores also display leather goods, rubber coin purses, shoes, socks and other accessories. There are even body products including soaps and lotions imported from overseas.

The launch of 8seconds comes five months after Cheil’s industry rival LG launched its fashion brand ZEDEN. Prior to that, E-Land introduced its SPAO casual brand, the first fast-fashion brand in Korea, in November 2009.

Signaling the start of competition among local fast fashion brands, E-Land launched its second such label, MIXXO, in Myeong-dong, only five days after 8seconds opened there.

With Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s second daughter Seo-hyun as executive vice president, Cheil has been outspoken about its efforts to “globalize its apparel brands” in recent years. But the company’s high-end avant-garde designer label, Hexa by Kuho, led by Kuho Jung, has yet to show visible success overseas despite five consecutive seasons at New York Fashion Week through last fall. This spring, the label made a trans-Atlantic move to Paris Fashion Week with a runway show held yesterday.

Park of Cheil said the revenue target for 8seconds for this year is 60 billion won ($56 million) and the company is planning to open eight more stores nationwide by year’s end.

By comparison, the firm’s signature brand Bean Pole earned over 500 billion won in sales revenue last year.

Park said that in three years Cheil expects 8seconds to enter the Chinese market, where Korean clothes are very popular, which would help the company achieve sales revenue of 400 billion won worldwide by 2015.

By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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