Outdoor apparel-makers shift focus to everyday attire

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Oct 1, 2015 - 19:30
  • Updated : Oct 1, 2015 - 19:30
South Korean outdoor clothing brands are seeking breakthroughs in casual wear in the face of waning demand for their flagship clothing lines like hiking pants and padded jumpers. 

Korean boy band iKON poses with Nepa’s new clothing line for fall and winter 2015. (Nepa)

Faced with a downturn after enjoying staller growth for years, they are scrambling to introduce practical items and easy-to-wear everyday attire to diversify their product lineups.

“Outdoor looks more suitable for daily use and athleisure ― a mashup of athletic and leisure clothing ― are forming a trend here,” Hong Jong-tae, an official at local brand Nepa said.

Nepa, which posted 21 percent on-year decline in operating profit last year, launched its new concept “inner city outdoor” for this year’s fall and winter season to focus on fashion style that’s appropriate for work and school.

It also lowered the age of target groups to those in their 10s and 20s because the market for middle-aged consumers who are keen on hiking clothes is saturated.

Bean Pole Outdoor, a brand owned by Samsung C&T’s fashion division, plans to increase urban outdoor wear to 70 percent of total production.

With a fast-aging population and growing interest in leisure activities, the segment’s domestic market value reached its peak at 6.9 trillion won ($5.8 billion) in 2013 with years of double-digit growth but it has been shrinking since then.

Shoemaker Kumkang and Fila Korea withdrew their outdoor brands after failing to compete with hundreds of labels that sprang up with the boom.

“The market is reorganizing after years of rapid growth. Only those firms that can manage a successful business transformation will survive now,” said Na In-Kyung, a researcher at Samsung Fashion Institute.

Outerwear such as a trench coat and safari jacket are common items that the outdoor brands have newly launched to give a fresh turn on conventional looks.

Colorful padded jumpers, a must-have item for Korean youngsters, got much thinner and toned down to suit the daily casual outfits. Top players ― North Face, Kolon Sport and Millet ― introduced ultralight down jackets this season hoping to recreate their heydays.

By Park Han-na (