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Despite competition, local fast-fashion brands fight on to globalize Updated: 2014-08-18 12:48:42 KST

Despite competition, local fast-fashion brands fight on to globalize
They are the so-called "fast-fashion" brands, or S.P.A. brands, easily seen in Seoul's busy shopping districts.
Over the past couple of years in Korea, there's been a growing demand for these SPA brands-- with both foreign and domestic firms flooding the streets, here in Korea.

"I like these kinds of brands because their prices are reasonable, and they have styles that are liked by most people."

SPA, short for "specialty retailer of private label apparel" had a market worth of about 500-billion won in the Korean market, back in 2008, but has since grown to about 3-trillion won or about 2.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2013.

"The SPA brands in Korea are changing the paradigm of the fashion industry in Korea. Before we saw brands more focused on their brand image-- but now it's about the retail store's image and how to meet the exact demands of its customers."

SPA brands do it all --from design to manufacturing and retailing -- thus, prices are lower and new items can be produced at a faster rate.

"For many of these SPA brand retail stores, there are new items that hit the racks almost weekly. And at this store, new products are apparently delivered every day."

Currently, the three biggest SPA brands in Korea are not homemade.. They're Japan's Uniqlo, one of the first SPA brands to enter Korea in 2005, Spain's Zara and Sweden's H&M.
The local brands, which are latecomers to the SPA world, however, are not afraid to join in on the competition.
Retail conglomerate, E-Land Group, which introduced Korea's first SPA brand called Spao in 2009, currently has more than 10 such brands under its belt.
Their aim is global expansion -- first, by conquering Asia.

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"We found success with our first stores abroad in China and Japan.
So we now plan to increase the number of our SPA brand stores in China to 50 next year. / We have an edge over our foreign competitors because we design and produce according to the specific tastes of our Asian consumers."

And back in Korea, the already diluted market of SPA brands is still vied by newcomers from abroad.
Canadian label Joe Fresh was recently introduced, and the UK's popular TopShop are apparently eyeing the market.

"Global companies could see Korea as a test-market as Korean consumers are now recognized as trendsetters and fast-adapters."

Connie Lee, Arirang News.
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