After 10 years in Japan, Cynthia Rowley has set her eyes on South Korea.
The designer opened a 1,400-square-foot boutique in the popular and trendy Gangnam District of Seoul this month, an area filled with fashion brands such as Tory Burch, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade and Burberry.
“It’s become a real shopping destination,” said Peter Arnold, president of Cynthia Rowley. He said the store will carry a full assortment of Rowley’s apparel, bags, shoes, outerwear and jewelry. The boutique was opened with Rowley’s South Korean business partner Seokyung, the distributor for brands such as True Religion. The company plans to open two additional shops-in-shop in major Seoul department stores this spring. It is currently negotiating with them.
Arnold said that when he met Keoung-Aei Ha, the chief executive officer of Seokyung, he discovered “she was a huge Cynthia Rowley fan.”
“They went for all the fashion-forward things. They’re really into the leggings and the whole notion of activewear,” said Arnold, noting that they buy the line from Rowley’s New York-based company. Most of the merchandise is made in China, with the balance in India and the U.S.
Rowley’s Korean store mirrors the white pristine decor of her Stateside boutiques with splashes of the brand’s distorted floral patterns decorating the walls.
The plan is that by the end of 2013, they will open six stores in South Korea, and in 2014, they’ll open another four stores. The 10 stores will be a mix of freestanding boutiques and shops-in-shop within department stores, said Arnold. The first three stores will be in Seoul and the next few will be in Daegu, followed by Busan, he said.
To acquaint itself with the South Korean market, Rowley sold some of its handbags on a Web site, CJO Shopping, which helped build buzz. They sold a lot of merchandise very quickly, according to Arnold.
“What I’ve learned is it’s a very developed market and you have a very sophisticated customer in South Korea,” said Arnold. “What Cynthia is known for is her unexpected use of color, and very unique prints she designs herself. It’s something women find appealing and is different from what is there now. They love the playfulness of what she does.”
Rowley’s business has flourished in Japan. It has 43 stores in Japan and Taiwan, which are a combination of freestanding boutiques and shops-in-shop. The company has a flagship in Tokyo. “We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary in Japan, and I’m confident our Korean business will be just as successful,” added Rowley.
Arnold said the company will eventually enter China again — it tried it once before — and is talking to a potential partner in Hong Kong and Mainland China. “We’ve learned it’s a very complex market and you have to make sure you have an on-the-ground knowledge and expertise. It’s hard to enter without a good partner,” said Arnold.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast