Model turned designer brings class to TV shoppingA posh Gangnam club swarmed with TV crews and fashionistas on a recent afternoon as the clothing brand Ellahoya launched its hot new line for TV Home Shopping.
That’s right, TV Home Shopping. Usually the province of low-cost household electronics, underwear and insurance policies, home shopping companies have been recruiting promising designers recently in order to raise their brand images.
Pyeon Jung-su, the creative director for Ellahoya, has a popular following as a veteran model who recently broke into acting and fashion design, and is expected to lend credibility to the new high-end lineup on TV. Usually decked out in flashy oufits, she is also one of the most photographed fashionistas in the capital’s trendy circle ― her official fan club, Violet, is over 10 years old with 10,000 members.
Starting this month, Ellahoya will sell its first fall/winter collection ― the 35 outfits showcased at the event ― through March 2006. The one-year deal with Hyundai Home Shopping Network is expected to generate 15 billion won ($15 million) in sales for Ellahoya. The network is a powerful distribution platform, attracting 1.3 million viewers per day.
Many call in orders for anything from a digital camera to a jar of kimchi at any time of day or night, generating 680 billion in sales for Hyundai in 2004.
As soon as Ms. Pyeon signed the lucrative deal with Hyundai in January 2005, her husband, Andrew Liu, quickly established a private company called Fashiontainment to handle this much talked-about multi-million dollar project. According to Mr. Liu, this is only the first step, but he was coy about what comes next, saying “the fashion business involves a lot of risk.” In the meantime, the couple has found a good niche.
“On TV shopping, low prices often meant poor quality. Now with the credible image of Pyeon Jung-su, the network aims to bring in higher value in their clothing line. We put the unit price lower but kept the material cost higher, about twice as much,” said Mr. Liu. “Most rabbit furs sold on TV are made of fur swatches. Ellahoya’s is made with whole skin, which is about 10 percent more expensive than other brands.”
At this particular show, businessmen lurk in the shadows observing the parade of trendy items ― a fur bolero, a crocheted top, an Asian-print trenchcoat ― that may soon appear on the Hyundai Home Shopping Network. The strategy is to begin with higher quality women’s wear, which targets a key customer demographic.
Ellahoya is targeting women aged between 25 and 40, who pursue a trendy yet ageless style, according to Ms. Pyeon. “When I designed the line, I had in mind women who admire the actress Hwang Shin-hye, who at 43 looks amazing.”
She said the difference between people who dress well and don’t comes from the attitude within. “People who don’t dress well think, if it’s not my style, then it’s out. But people like me think, if I wear it, how should I wear it to make dressing up an enjoyable experience?”
Now a creative director of a fashion brand, Pyeon Jung-su spoke with The IHT-JoongAng Daily about her new career:
Q. You’re a role model for many Korean women.
A. So they say. Besides this business, I work on commercials and dramas, which I try to do my best... plus my baby is now eight. I’m also taking a course in business management at Korea University, in the hope that I will get a master’s degree in the service industry.
What stage of life are you at right now?
I’ve always wanted to pioneer a new field and try new things. Right now is the best moment in my life. But, it’s not that I don’t have difficulties. My husband used to hate me working as a model; he thought modeling was whoring. But I really got into it and it brought out my best, and more opportunities came. I feel that I’ve found myself a niche in the business. But my life is crazy. I help my daughter with homework. After I put her to sleep, I do my work. My husband now helps me with marketing and planning.
What made you return from your career in New York?
I went to Paris to walk the Lee Young-hee runway in 1999. Next Agency scouted me on the spot and I did the Kenzo show in the year he quit. The agency took me to New York. There were some Asian models then, but I was the first pure-blooded Korean model in the industry. It was a big opportunity for me, so I ended up staying there for two-and-half years. One day I heard my baby’s voice in the answering machine, and I was like ― What the hell am I doing here? I dropped everything to be with my family in Korea.
Don’t people say you’re funny?
I’m very talkative, so I lose my voice about once a week. Once a year, because of exhaustion, I collapse and am carried to the hospital by paramedics. I guess I don't show my serious side.
by Ines Cho