Gangnam embraces luxury down jackets

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Gangnam embraces luxury down jackets

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Canada Goose’s Expedition parka for women

At a Canada Goose boutique in the Shinsegae Department Store in Gangnam, all sizes of the Expedition parka for both men and women are sold out.

A salesperson says he doesn’t know when they might get more stock. “I bet the situation is similar at other department stores,” he said.

The Expedition, with a distinctive coyote-fur-trimmed hood, sells for 1.25 million won, or $1,163.

At a nearby Moncler boutique, down jackets that retail for 3 million to 4 million won are also sold out.

Shinsegae International, which imports the Moncler brand, said its jackets are mostly purchased by customers in their 30s and 40s.

Highly expensive down jackets are this winter’s Gangnam style for adults in the wealthy neighborhoods of Songpa, Seocho and Gangnam districts.

After the North Face boom of the last couple of years, which made that line of jackets a kind of uniform for teens and college kids, Canada Goose and Moncler are being called “The North Face for adults.” That’s despite their high prices, which are three to seven times more expensive than down jackets by general outdoor brands.




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Moncler down jacket

Evolution of brands

Until this year, the had-to-buy down jacket brand was North Face. However, its popularity began to weaken after a widely distributed Internet parody ranked North Face models from cheapest to most expensive and dismissed them as the uniform of spoiled brats who liked to make their parents suffer. There was also criticism of the brand for being foreign.

This year, the older set in Gangnam fell in love with luxury down jackets. The increasingly harsh winters contributed.

“Koreans’ luxury goods preference is now shown in expensive down jackets due to climate change and overseas brand marketing,” said Kwak Keum-joo, psychology professor at Seoul National University.

Canada Goose has become popular enough to become a label. People who wear its jackets are now called “Goose People.”

Moncler grabbed public attention early this year when a photo of President Lee Myung-bak’s granddaughter wearing a Moncler jacket was released - his critics accused him of spoiling the girl with expensive imported goodies - and Chung Yong-jin, vice president of the Shinsegae Group, posted a photo of a Moncler jacket on his Facebook page describing it as a present to his wife.

Other popular luxury brands are Italy’s ADD and Herno. The average price of a down jacket by ADD is 800,000 won and more than 90 percent of the stock was sold in one month at the Hyundai Department Store in Apgujeong. The store urgently ordered more from Italy.




Branding matters

Many of the brands are as easily spotted as the luxury brands of handbags, and that’s important in their success.

“The trend from Gangnam will slowly spread across the country,” said an industry analyst. “Among some buyers, there’s a saying that Canada Goose will become the next North Face among Gangnam high school students.”

Some find this obsessive love of brands disturbing.

“Finding self-esteem through consumption requires the items purchased to change over time,” said Sung Young-shin, a psychology professor at Korea University. “And for teenagers, who used to form their own culture by themselves, to blindly follow the adult’s distorted consumption pattern is a problem.”

By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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