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When Eryn Brinié opens its doors on Broadway in SoHo today, shoppers might wonder about the name behind the store. It belongs to a French designer living in New York, who, if the clothes that line the 2,700-square-foot shop reflect her personal style, likes her fashion slouchy and chic. She’s also pure fiction.
Eryn Brinié is a character dreamed up by the label’s South Korean design and marketing team. The company was launched last fall by Avista, a Seoul-based apparel group that operates three other brands, BNX, Tankus and Kai-Aakmann, with a total of 212 stores in South Korea. “In the Korean market, there has been a big trend toward anything related to French chic,” says Kris Jeon, Eryn Brinié’s U.S. managing director, of the collection’s somewhat gimmicky concept. “So far it’s been really well-received in [South] Korea. There’s a bit of mysteriousness to the name, which was a good way to get people interested in the brand because they want to know who Eryn Brinié is.”
Of course, Jeon and Co. realize that the name won’t sound as unique to the American ear. And while the brand’s Korean Web site further promotes the company’s fictional designer by way of an online diary, similar steps do not yet exist here, where the appeal will more likely lie in Eryn Brinié’s snappy fashion and accessible prices. “We are trying to fill the gap between mass retailers, like H&M and Zara, and contemporary brands by providing a higher-end design aesthetic at a very reasonable price,” says Jeon. Thus, fall’s ombré knit cardigans in soft pastels, ruffled miniskirts, jeans, leather jackets and skinny pants average between $85 and $90.
With 37 stores in South Korea and two in Shanghai, China, the New York store, which was designed by Studios Architecture and works the mainstream side of modern, is Eryn Brinié’s first foray into the U.S. market, where the company sees major growth potential. “The Korean market is very fragmented and saturated for retailers, and the U.S. is one of the biggest markets in the world, so we’re really looking to grow there,” says Jeon, noting that the line, which is just beginning to wholesale (accounts include Planet Blue in Los Angeles and Lounge in New York), plans to open eight to 10 more stores in the New York area in the next year. Looks like Eryn Brinié is going to be one busy girl.