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Boon The Shop: The Seoul-Based Store with a Fashion Soul

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  • BoF Team

SEOUL, South Korea — Founded in 2000, Boon the Shop opened its doors with a clear aim: to pioneer multi-brand menswear retail in the South Korean market. Owned by Shinsegae, Korea's leading luxury product specialist, Boon the Shop Men operates three shop-in-shops within Shinsegae department stores and a standalone store in Cheongdam Dong, Seoul's most fashionable neighbourhood. At the flagship store, futurist architecture and slick cubic lines house a high-end buy of sharp-edged, established fashion brands, sleek sartorial labels and progressive emerging designers. Desirable product, often either exclusive to the store or scarce in the market, has engaged an informed clientele, numbering many of the South Korean menswear fashion industy's leading lights, eager to discover the need-to-see pieces of the season.

BoF sat down with Jason Park, head buyer of South Korea’s menswear melting pot.

BoF: What role does Boon the Shop play in the South Korean menswear market?

JP: For most fashionable people in Korea, our store is the name that pops up when they think about fashion. So that is one of the reasons that we cannot just concentrate on the commerciality. We have to satisfy their expectations, not just for the customer, but for all the people from the fashion industry, the store can be and is a reference for them. We don’t mind being an inspiration for the Korean people who are in the fashion industry and interested in it.

BoF: How do you ensure you satisfy the expectations of the Korean fashion industry when you buy?

JP: Boon the Shop is not just a commercial business; it is a pioneer for high fashion in Korea. If there is a new ‘man’ or a new designer that is not commercial at the moment, we may still stock it. We stock collections not just for the sales, but to show the customer what is happening in the fashion industry. We think that fashion is art and we want to present to the customers the new designers and the established designers, and we want to deliver high fashion to the Korean customer. It is not just for the customer, it is for the industry in Korea as well. We don’t really do advertisement; it is more about editorial. That is an important tool. If we want to make an impact, or highlight a new designer, we also do advertorial, but never advertising.

BoF: How does stocking non-commercial collections affect Boon the Shop’s relationship with its customers?

JP: It is hard to explain, but even if a designer is new, we want to make the customer trust us, and then they can kind of discover the new designer through us. We think that the balance is very important between the commerciality and ‘fashion fashion.’ As I said, we always try to make it into a look, from the buying side as well as through the sales team, which is why it is really critical that we communicate with the customer well. One of the most important things is the sales style staff. They can mix the brands and help the consumers. Our sales staff are stylists for the customers.

BoF: How does this break down across categories?

JP: When it comes to categories, ready-to-wear is more than 70 percent of our turnover. As for product categories, it is hard to say whether you could pick between a jacket or pants and which is more important. There are a lot of customers that buy just items, and they can mix it by themselves, but what you want to present is a look and we definitely sell more looks rather than the items. Accessories and shoes, proportion-wise, are getting bigger. In our store the best performing brands are Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Saint Laurent and Givenchy and from Pitti we buy around 10 brands. Sales wise, Gitman Brothers lead the sartorial category.

BoF: Have you noticed any shifts in the South Korean market?

JP: Now that fast fashion is so strong, they can make replicas maybe after a couple of weeks, or a couple of months. We try to make the sale as a look, rather than an item. This is because item to item, fast fashion can be a better option for the mainstream customer. But that said, I think that the customer who shops at our store, they are not mainstream – they want to be earlier and they want to be original, more fashion forward. That is how we can survive.

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