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High fashion brands foray into F&B in a bid to lure shoppers

Breitling Kitchen, Swiss watchmaker Breitling’s first-ever restaurant, opened in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, on Feb. 3. (Breitling Korea)
Breitling Kitchen, Swiss watchmaker Breitling’s first-ever restaurant, opened in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, on Feb. 3. (Breitling Korea)
High-end European fashion brands have opened stores serving food and beverages to satiate Korean consumers‘ voracious appetites for luxury goods and fine dining experiences.

Swiss watchmaker Breitling opened its largest boutique to date in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, earlier this month. The opening has accelerated the brand’s move into new offerings that go beyond its core watchmaking business, according to Breitling Korea officials.

While Hannam-dong is known as a trendy district with clusters of luxury retailers and fine dining restaurants, the two-story 750 square-meter flagship store combines its retail shop with a cafe, terrace and its first ever restaurant, Breitling Kitchen. 

Breitling Cafe, Swiss watchmaker Breitling’s coffee shop, located on the first floor of the brand’s largest flagship store Breitling Hannam Townhouse in Hannam-dong, central Seoul. (Breitling Korea)
Breitling Cafe, Swiss watchmaker Breitling’s coffee shop, located on the first floor of the brand’s largest flagship store Breitling Hannam Townhouse in Hannam-dong, central Seoul. (Breitling Korea)
The first floor of Breitling Hannam Townhouse’s street-level cafe serves a varied selection of specialty teas and coffees, along with freshly baked goods. An airport lounge-inspired retail space is also located on the same floor, showcasing Breitling’s latest watch collections.

Headed by chef Kim Hyeong-kyu, Breitling Kitchen on the second floor offers Italian cuisine. Although diners can choose from seating zones themed by air, sea and land, reservations must be made for a private dining room. The terrace serves as both an extension of the cafe and a private event space.

Breitling CEO Georges Kern described Breitling Hannam Townhouse as a place where visitors can get the complete Breitling experience “under one roof.”

“This new flagship is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in watch retail. From the moment you step in, you’ll recognize the relaxed, industrial loft-inspired atmosphere that says everything about our casual, inclusive, and sustainable approach to luxury,” he said in a statement. 

Exterior view of Gucci Gaok, Italian fashion house Gucci’s second flagship store in Seoul. (Gucci Korea)
Exterior view of Gucci Gaok, Italian fashion house Gucci’s second flagship store in Seoul. (Gucci Korea)
Italian fashion brand Gucci is also preparing to open a fine dining restaurant at Gucci Gaok, the company’s second flagship store in Korea, also located in Hannam-dong. While Gucci Korea officials confirmed that Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura is slated to open in the first half of the year, they declined to disclose further details.

In the meantime, fashion industry insiders note that the Gucci restaurant in Seoul is likely to be the fourth of its kind. Gucci Osteria is a series of contemporary fine dining establishments that was first introduced in Florence, Italy in 2018. It later expanded to Beverly Hills, California in 2020, and to Tokyo, Japan last year.

In a bid to woo Korean shoppers, IWC Schaffhausen, a maker of luxury Swiss watches, opened a coffee shop last July. Big Pilot Bar, located in Lotte Department Store in Euljiro, central Seoul, is the brand’s second food and beverage space in the world, after IWC’s cocktail bar in Geneva, Switzerland that opened in 2017.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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