SEOUL — Tory Burch has opened her first freestanding store in South Korea.

This story first appeared in the June 30, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The two-level, 3,368-square-foot boutique, her largest in the world, opened earlier this month in Seoul’s posh neighborhood of Cheongdam-dong near Phillip Lim, Emporio Armani and other designer boutiques.

The American brand, known for its ballerina flats and tunics, launched in Korea in the fall through a partnership with Samsung Cheil Industries Inc., the country’s largest fashion company, which operates Burch’s freestanding store here. Since then, the business in Korea has grown to nine department store shop-in-shops, including one in the country’s second-largest city, Busan. Also in the area of Burch’s store is 10 Corso Como, another Samsung Cheil Industries property.

Burch made her first visit to Seoul last week for an opening party that included Korean celebrities and models. She followed that up the next day with a more intimate styling lesson for a group of VIP clients. Burch’s four-day trip to the country included a visit to the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art.

The Tory Burch brand is busy expanding in Asia. Late last year, the company opened its first freestanding stores in Tokyo and Manila.

Tory Burch president Brigitte Kleine said by the end of the year, the company plans to open three more shop-in-shops in Korea and lift its number of stores in Japan to 19 from the current 16. The brand will open its first flagship in Taiwan come fall through a partnership with Yun San, and it will cut the ribbon on a directly owned and operated Tory Burch store in Hong Kong by the end of the year. Kleine said the brand is evaluating additional growth prospects in China and the Philippines.

The company declined to disclose sales figures, but Bernstein Research estimates that South Korea’s luxury market is worth about 3.4 billion euros, or $4.2 billion, just more than half the size of Mainland China’s market of 6.6 billion euros, or $8.1 billion.

The new Seoul boutique has Burch’s touches: Orange lacquer doors, green carpets and a generous use of gold leaf create a sunny, airy atmosphere. While the first floor is dedicated to retail, the second floor offers a different experience. A classic study, living room, dining room and walk-in closets replicate a private-home setting.

“It was Samsung’s idea for a lifestyle section,” said Burch of the store, which features wall coverings made from prints used in her clothing line. The designer said much of the merchandising at the Seoul flagship is the same as that found at the brand’s store on Elizabeth Street in New York. But not all the items that do well Stateside are hits in the Korean market. Korean women tend to shy away from bold prints and silk interlock, for example, Burch observed.

“It has been a learning curve. Merchandising will be similar but there will be adaptations,” she said.

There will be some items that will be exclusive to the local market, such as a perforated patent leather tote. In Asia, the majority of the brand’s business derives from shoes and accessories and this is reflected in the store, which features a large selection of footwear and bags.

There are 27 freestanding Tory Burch boutiques throughout the United States and Asia — and more than 500 select department stores and specialty stores worldwide carry the brand.

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