Joe Fresh to challenge SPA brands in Seoul

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 4, 2014 - 19:57
  • Updated : Feb 4, 2014 - 19:57
A screenshot from Joe Fresh’s website

Canadian fast fashion brand Joe Fresh will open its first Korean store in Lotte World Jamsil in May, industry sources said on Tuesday.

According to Iljin Group, a midweight conglomerate and importer of the new brand, Joe Fresh will be introduced around May with the partial opening of the new Lotte World Jamsil shopping complex. The brand, launched in 2006 by Club Monaco designer Joseph Mimran, sells a variety of garments, cosmetic goods and fashion accessories.

Joe Fresh, a brand introduced to the U.S. market by fashion retailer JCPenny, is known for its reasonable prices, which are lower than those of H&M or Uniqlo: Joe Fresh garments are mostly priced at around $29-$39. The price tags have reportedly been a magnet for low-budget consumers in North American, Europe and now Asia, observers say.

The arrival of Joe Fresh is expected to heat up the competition in the local market with Specialty Share Retailers of Private Label Apparel ― known as SPA brands ― which has seen steady growth over the past few years.

The industry is already filled with global giants such as H&M, Zara and Uniqlo, as well as domestic players such as 8 Seconds and Mixxo, among others. Recently, H&M’s posher sister brand, COS, as well as Uniqlo’s lower-end affiliate GU decided to join the local competition.

According to Samsung Design Net, Korea’s SPA market was 3 trillion won ($2.8 billion) in 2013, up 30.4 percent from 2.3 trillion won in 2012. It was only 580 billion won in 2008.

“There is a shared understanding among industry insiders that SPA brands will never fail in Korea. Moreover, Seoul, where women are very sensitive to trends and their appearance, has become a test bed for the Asian market,” a market watcher said.

By Bae Ji-sook (