Fubu ousted from Korea by fast-fashion brands

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Fubu ousted from Korea by fast-fashion brands

Amid the growing popularity of fast-fashion brands, the American hip-hop casual wear brand Fubu, which was quite successful during the 1990s and early 2000s, will soon exit the domestic market.

Cheil Industries, a textile and chemical subsidiary of Samsung, launched the American brand under a licensing agreement in 1999 and enjoyed huge popularity.

However, due to increased competition from fast-fashion brands and the vanishing hip-hop trend, Fubu has been struggling with poor sales. Currently, there are 48 stores, including 34 at department stores and 14 standalone locations. They are scheduled to close as early as late July or early August.

Cheil consistently changed the concept of the brand in line with local trends, and its last effort to transform Fubu’s image was carried out at the beginning of the year. There was a slight rise in sales, but it did not last long. Eventually, Cheil Industries decided to dispose of the brand considering that future growth seemed unlikely. The decision also came as a part of the company’s plan to enhance efficiency by focusing on growing brands such as Eight Seconds and Bean Pole Outdoor as well as businesses in China.

“Although we plan to reorganize clothing brands in order to maximize efficiency, as for now, we have only decided to withdraw Fubu,” said a spokesman for Cheil Industries. “There have been no decisions made for other brands.”

“The overall casual clothes market has been shrinking due to the fast-fashion brands. It is likely that our company will also focus on making new brands with potential for growth,” she added.

Yoon Ju-hwa, the new president of the fashion general division and director of Cheil Industries, has been advocating for changes since he moved from his position as president and chief financial officer of Samsung Electronics late last year.

Before then, Park Jong-woo, CEO of Cheil Industries, was responsible for the company’s fashion sector.

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