Samsung Everland scales back luxury fashion business

By Korea Herald

Business transformation pours cold water on firm’s passion for fashion

  • Published : Mar 3, 2014 - 20:29
  • Updated : Mar 3, 2014 - 22:06
Samsung Everland’s fashion division is shelving hexa by kuho, a high-end womenswear label targeting the global market, according to a company insider.

The decision was made three months after the fashion company was relocated from Cheil Industries to Everland in December 2013 in a move aimed at widening Everland’s business scope and spearheading Cheil’s transformation into a parts and materials manufacturer.

However, some believe shutting down hexa may be a sign of Everland’s abandonment of its vision to become a global luxury fashion powerhouse initiated by its president Lee Seo-hyun, the second daughter of Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee. 

Models wear items from the hexa by kuho spring-summer 2014 collection at Paris Fashion Week last year. ( Samsung Everland)

Cheil had three brands targeting global markets ― hexa by kuho, Derercuny and Juun.J. But with hexa and Derercuny shut down, the global strategy has been uprooted, observers say. Juun.J, led by star designer Jung Wook-jun, will remain in the market.

The departure of hexa comes after the company’s executive managing director and chief designer Jung Ku-ho left the company in November 2013.

Jung, who had worked for Cheil Industries since 2003 after his own brand KUHO was acquired by the company, was let go amid rumors that there was no room for his future performance in the new Everland.

Hexa by kuho was led by Jung and presented at fashion shows in New York and Paris to international press and merchandisers.

“The absence of the designer has been quite huge on the overall image making of the brand. KUHO can survive thanks to loyal fans but (sustaining) hexa, the younger one, can be tricky,” an insider said.

Cheil shut down Derercuny in August 2013. Hailed as Samsung’s fashion darling, Derercuny was launched in 2004 targeting elderly women around the world and held fashion shows in Milan with A-list press.

The brand marked $3 million in sales in 2007 but has plummeted since then. It suffered a business hiatus during the global economic slowdown in 2008 but returned to the fashion scene shortly after, only to be shut down again. Some attribute the failure to boring design, while others blamed poor marketing.

The withdrawal of hexa and Derercuny suggests that Lee Seo-hyun may have to put a hold on her dreams of establishing a global fashion powerhouse with domestic labels.

“It is natural that businesses want to trim their portfolio to become more profitable. But at the same time, it seems Lee will face some tough times,” a fashion industry insider said. “It’s always painful mixing art with money.”

Lee, who has been the de facto leader of Samsung’s fashion unit since 2002, has received much attention for her passion for fashion.

As a graduate of the prestigious Parsons The New School of Design, Lee has diversified Cheil’s business portfolio from a menswear-focused local clothing firm to a cutting-edge fashion company. She was responsible for the acquisition of KUHO and also the launches of hexa and Le Beige.

With her luxury line being halted, Lee is likely to take a detour to more affordable lines, such as local private label eight Seconds.

The brand garnered 130 billion won from off and online sales in 2013, just two years after it launched.

By Bae Ji-sook and Lee Woo-young