The South Korean model rivals the speed of fast fashion

A real and big competition for international fast fashion brands

in brief

Hyper-connected and hyper-local, South Korean fashion grows on the flows of fast trends, thanks to a production system with a hyper-fast answering capacity. Sold on the Internet, these local brands make a true alternative to fast fashion retailers. Offering a new way of thinking to inspire new systems in response to “disposable” fashion. If it is coupled with reflections around the environmental impact of fashion, perhaps it could provide viable solutions to this major issue.

We all know the capacity, but more importantly the speed, at which fast fashion produces its clothes: for a brand like Zara, for example, the length of the process between the design stage and the moment when the product arrives on shelf in store, is reduced to five weeks! A real challenge for brands, which also has major consequences on the environment.

In this context, the study of new business models and operation systems of foreign markets is a source of inspiration that can sometimes be surprising. From DNVB (Digital Native Vertical Brands) to a startup like TEKYN, which offers the possibility to produce small quantities on demand; these solutions offer as many ways to compete with what we can call “disposable” fashion.

South Korean brand HUPOT.

This is how our attention turned to the model of some retailers of the South Korean capital. In Dongdaemun, the dense garment district, early in the morning, entrepreneurs rush to produce their creations. With some 50,000 manufacturers, entrepreneurs can find heir creation manufactured by supper time.

Qualified as a light-speed clothing hub, the district offers services at a cost even lower than those enjoyed by international fast fashion brands. Adding to this the cultural specificity of the market, Korea is the Asian country where these retailers have the lowest penetration rate! This has spawned a multitude of local brands sold online, which, thanks to a better understanding of their customers, have the ability to adapt to the very fast trends of Korean fashion.

Besides, the garments corresponding to the trends captured by these local actors do not exist in international channels. And that’s partly thanks to the robust local entertainment industry: K-pop music alone accounts for $ 4.7 billion. Korean celebrities are therefore the major influencers and ambassadors of local fashion. A fashion that has acquired its legitimacy both internationally and in Asia, where the Made in Korea has been competing for a decade with Japanese creations.

This post was written in partnership with DEFI France, as part of its support to innovation and fashion companies.
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