Fashion label opens flagship store

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Fashion label opens flagship store


On normal days, the rooftop of the COEX building in the middle of the concrete forest of Samseong-dong is a vast and barren lot except for occasional cargo transports. But not on the night of May 4, when the urban desert turned into an oasis and the capital’s most fashionable quenched their thirsts with unlimited champagne ― to celebrate the opening of Coach’s flagship store in Korea.
Beyond an impromptu “bridge” lit by blazing spotlights, a gigantic ivory tent stood against the spectacular nightscape of Samseong-dong skyscrapers. Through the pink-carpeted foyer and the tent that covered an impressive 1,200 square meters (1,435 square yards), 25 waiters served Veuve Clicquot and Cosmopolitan cocktails to 1,000 revelers. According to the Coach representative, it took five days to build the tent, costing Shinsegae International, the importer of the American fashion label, a whopping 80 million won ($79,000).
Coach was first introduced to Korea by an agent, Starluxe Inc., in 2001, and Shinsegae International took over the operation in October 2005. The opening of Coach’s first flagship store, located alongside other international behemoths, such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada, was to herald the brand’s born-again security in the Korean market overseen by its new ― and strong ― partner, Shinsegae.

For years, Coach has been a household name for fashion-conscious Korean women. With the opening of the spacious two-story building, the brand aims to reach women with deeper wallets and woo them to spend on their men, as the store introduces the Premium Line, priced between 800,000 won and 1.2 million won, on the first floor, as well as a men’s line on the second floor. The regular bags, priced under 600,000 won, are sold in 13 brand stores in department stores nationwide.

Q&A with Peter W. Emmerson, President International of Coach, who visited Seoul for the opening event.

Q.Coach is one of a few fashion companies that has succeeded in its make-over.
A.We have grown to embrace the ever increasing contemporary needs, as you can only have more diverse customers ― we’ve included a men’s collection as well. When I say we are going to make $2 billion this year, people say ‘It’s a large company.’ ‘No, no,’ I say, ‘It’s a small company with a nimble marketing strategy that covers the global market.’

How important is the Korean market now?
Japan is the biggest market outside of the U.S.; I’ve been going to Japan since 1988. I know Korea has just one freestanding store, but Korea is becoming an important market in Asia. At the moment, sales in Korea come from department stores, but Japan was like that in the beginning and has changed over the years. In Japan, there are many free-standing stores.

Do you think Korea will become like Japan in the future?
Yes, I think so.

by Ines Cho
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