[Weekender] Korea still lacks affordable secondary lines

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 23, 2014 - 20:27
  • Updated : May 23, 2014 - 20:27
A growing number of global luxury fashion powerhouses are tapping into secondary lines for mass-market consumers.

The reason is simple: to offer affordable styles without losing their exclusive status and reputation.

Another reason is because if they don’t somehow embrace the part of the population who want high-end and ready-to-wear, their businesses could suffer down the road.

However, the trend has not yet caught on in Korea, where more and more shoppers and fashionistas are clamoring for such lines.

“Consumers want affordable clothing, but they also want to be associated with a brand that reflects their social status,” said Amelia Kim, a merchandise director of the fashion unit of Cheil Industries, explaining the rationale behind operating secondary lines.

“For designers and the brands, a secondary line is an ideal way of maintaining their identity without losing mass appeal.”

The Giorgio Armani Spa empire is one of the groups that first worked on such sister labels. Currently it owns six lines that offer products at widely varying price ranges.

Other brands such as Marc Jacobs (Marc by Marc Jacobs), Chloe (See by Chloe), Alexander McQueen (McQ) Valentino (RED Valentino), and Sonia Rykiel (Sonia by Sonia Rykiel) are also among the many that operate less-costly sister lines.

Recently, Karl Lagerfeld, the creative designer of Chanel and Fendi, launched a new line of accessories including bags, watches, and sunglasses with prices ranging from $95 to $450.

To cater to younger shoppers’ needs, the designer used a lot of denim and leather in its products.

“I went in because I thought I’d see something similar to Chanel classic flap bags. I also heard it’s cheaper,” said Nickki Myars, a tourist from Canada, said during her trip earlier this month as she tried out patent leather handbags.

But many South Korean brands have been hesitant about joining the trend, possibly because they have not yet established luxurious brand images, said Kim, which is why secondary brands are still unheard of here. The lack of original brands may also be the reason.

“It’s like this. When someone who resembles George Clooney gets famous, he gets famous because he looks like George Clooney. George Clooney himself is a special brand that everyone knows,” Kim said.

By Suk Gee-hyun (