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Atlanta Mart Rep Adds South Korean Designers

ATLANTA -- Expanding the geography of fashion at the Atlanta Apparel Mart, Don Overcast, one of its key multiline sales representatives, has agreed to represent a group of South Korean designers, starting with the April market.<BR><BR>The arrangement...

ATLANTA — Expanding the geography of fashion at the Atlanta Apparel Mart, Don Overcast, one of its key multiline sales representatives, has agreed to represent a group of South Korean designers, starting with the April market.

The arrangement is in conjunction with Koziho U.S.A., the exclusive U.S. distributor for Taegu Fashion Cooperative, a group of 40 fashion designers based in Taegu, Korea.

Overcast will offer customized programs for retailers to be done by the cooperative, as well as a regular line of separates and dresses, created by four of the designers there and carrying the Koziho label.

The four Korean designers turning out the Koziho label are Sun Ja Kim, Dong Jun Park, Boko Choi and Sang Jin Chin.

“Taegu is a city of 3 million and the largest textile concentration in the Orient,” said Young Kang, chief executive officer of the Atlanta-based Koziho U.S.A. “They know how to make apparel, but need help in how to market it.”

Before Koziho obtained exclusive U.S. distribution rights, the lines were sold through trading firms in Seoul.

The 40 designers will work together with textile mills to produce customized orders with a quick turnaround time for U.S. buyers, said Kang.

“A buyer here could fax a custom order based on a sketch book, and the members of the cooperative can work together to produce it within 10 days,” he said.

In November, Koziho U.S.A. sponsored a Korean trip for Overcast, Milt Crane, executive director of mart relations for the Atlanta Apparel Mart, and two Southeast retailers, Candy Worsham, owner of C. Christie, a 6,000-square-foot women’s shop in Nashville, Tenn., and Michael Greenbaum, president of CMJ, a Miami-based chain of seven women’s stores called A Nose For Clothes.

“I had to be convinced that the lines would fit in with our better-and-bridge price mix,” said Overcast. “We don’t associate Korean exports with high-quality luxury items.”

Overcast will carry separates and dresses for casual and career wear in the Koziho line. Over half the line will wholesale for under $150, with the rest priced between $150 and $200. Fabrics include linen, wool and polyester blends and microfibers. As part of the contract, Overcast will try to get the lines represented in other regional marts.

“These lines are fresh and new, without being reinterpretations of everything in the American market,” said Overcast.

Worsham and Greenbaum, the two retailers, had varied reactions to what they saw in Korea. Worsham said she went to Taegu in search of tailored lines that would fit in with her primarily career-oriented customer base. Worsham will develop a custom program with the Korean lines this spring.

“The workmanship is lovely and the fashions aren’t as exaggerated as in the United States, which is perfect for my corporate career customer,” she said. “Most important, the company is driven by the needs of the retailer rather than dictating to them.”

Greenbaum said: “The styling was comparable to American designs, but the fall fabrics [wool flannels] we saw were much too heavy for our climate.

“If we can get lighter-weight fabrics at price points below $400, we think they will fit in with our mix. We’re also interested in seeing more casual clothes, in addition to career-oriented suits.”