NEW YORK — In its home country of South Korea, Plac is a big deal. But in the U.S., it’s essentially unknown.
The brand is hoping to change that by hosting its first men’s wear show during New York Fashion Week and opening a store in New York City this summer.
In an interview with chief executive officer Jeong Wook Choi prior to Plac’s show here on Wednesday, he said since its founding in 2009 as a denim brand, Plac has grown to become a complete lifestyle line with more than $42 million in sales and 75 of its own stores in South Korea.
Although it offers women’s wear in Korea as well, Plac decided to concentrate on men’s wear only for its U.S. launch.
Right now, Plac is sold in around 25 retailers in the U.S., including Saks Fifth Avenue and Odin, but the thrust going forward will be on its own retail, Choi said. The first store, which will be located on Crosby and Grand Streets, will be around 1,300 square feet and be the first of some five to six stores the brand hopes to eventually open in the American market, Choi said. Cities on its wish list include Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.
Although denim still represents 70 percent of Plac’s sales in its home country, Choi said the brand will be focusing on its contemporary sportswear line for the U.S. rollout. The brand expects its competitors to include A.P.C., Black Denim and Sandro.
He revealed that he’s working with the owners of Odin to help it make a splash in the American market. “They’re acting as retail consultants to help us with our domestic strategy instead of just randomly coming here,” he said through a translator. The fits of the garments are also being tweaked to better fit the American consumer. “Men are more skinny in Korea,” he said. “In the U.S., they’re bigger and longer.”
Choi said moving into America was appealing to him because it was not only the originator of denim, but also because it is “one of the biggest markets” in the world. That said, he added that Plac recently signed a distribution deal in China to open 60 stores over the next five years. “We’re also looking for investors in the U.S. to help make us larger,” he said. “But we’ll open our store in New York first to gain experience in the market before looking for a partner.”
The store will feature the brand’s fall collection, which was shown at Highline Stages. The line is minimalistic and streamlined with a strong focus on outerwear and layering pieces and is targeted to a “young street crowd,” he said. It was designed by Jae Won Park, a London-based designer, who also has his own collection.
“It’s everyday wear, but it’s edgy,” Choi said.