[INVESTIGATION] South Korea: Why the country will be such a magnet for luxury goods in 2023 (Part 1/5)

Home to some of the world’s largest consumers of luxury goods, the Land of the Morning Calm is a magnet for luxury brands.


Since the mid-1990s, when the Chinese market was slowing down, Korea has seen an acceleration in the number of physical points of sale during the pandemic. To such an extent that several major names have chosen Seoul to enhance the impact of their cruise collections.


Korea as a luxury destination


Korea is a country wedged between the two great historical powers of Japan and China. Despite its modest population (50 million vs. 1.4 billion in China), the country is far from being an economic dwarf.


In just fifty years, it has gone from extreme poverty to becoming one of the four Asian Dragons – alongside Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan – and is now home to the world’s leading consumers of luxury goods.


In fact, according to a Morgan Stanley study, each inhabitant spends a minimum of $325 a year on luxury goods. This compares with $55 per capita in China and even $280 per capita in the United States, according to the same study.


It’s enough to convince luxury giants LVMH and Kering to vie with each other for Seoul, the country’s capital, for the Cruise 2024 show of their flagship brands, Louis Vuitton and Gucci respectively.


Seoul’s Jamsugyo double-decker bridge, venue for the louis Vuitton 2024 cruise fashion show and subject of a promotional campaign supported by the LVMH group.


Last year, Louis Vuitton saw its sales rise by 15.2% in the country and chose Hoyeong Jung, the star actress of Squid Game, Netflix’s hit South Korean series, as its ambassador. At the end of April, the House sought the creative advice of its director Hwang Dong Hyeok to stage its fashion show on the double-decker Jamsugyo Bridge overlooking the Hangang River.


Louis Vuitton is also said to have signed a partnership with the city of Seoul and the Korea Tourism Organization to promote the city through various cultural and environmental projects planned over the course of the year.


For its part, Gucci, orphaned of its artistic director Alessandro Michele, has chosen the setting of Seoul’s largest palace, dating from the 14th century and one of the five palaces built under the Joseons: the Gyeongbokgung or “Palace of Resplendent Happiness”. This mythical dynasty of three Korean kings ruled the country for almost 500 years. In a sign of K-pop -these cultural products labeled Made by Korea – growing influence on the world of luxury, the cruise show for Kering’s flagship brand was set to the soundtrack of Parasite (2019), the first non-English-language film to win the Best Picture Oscar.


It was also an opportunity to invite a handful of local stars, including Hanni, singer of the group New Jeans – brand ambassador since October 2022, and Lee Jung Jae, another ambassador from the cast of the Korean series Squid Game.


Main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace, known as Gwanghwamun, Seoul, scene of this year’s Gucci Cruise 2024 fashion show.


In the next installment, we’ll take a look back at the roots of luxury brands’ retail footprint in the region, and try to unravel the mystery behind the growing infatuation of the major luxury players with the Land of the Morning Calm in recent years.


Read also >> Dior shows off and opens a spectacular pop-up in Korea


Featured photo : © Cruise 2024 fashion show by the House of Gucci at Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace

Picture of Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin is a journalist specializing in luxury, HR, tech, retail, and editorial consulting. A graduate of EIML Paris, he has been working in the luxury industry for 9 years. Fond of fashion, Asia, history, and long format, this ex-Welcome To The Jungle and Time To Disrupt likes to analyze the news from a sociological and cultural angle.

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