Seoul’s Jamsugyo Bridge, which crosses the Han River, will remodel right into a excessive vogue runway on April 29, as Louis Vuitton presents its first ever pre-fall womenswear present in South Korea in a partnership that goals to spice up tourism and capitalize on the recognition of the nation’s popular culture.
The historic show is being dropped at life by the French vogue home’s artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière, with Squid Sport director Hwang Dong-hyuk working as a artistic advisor on the present’s scenography. Louis Vuitton selected Seoul as a result of it’s a “cultural hub that continues to attract international consideration,” mentioned chairman and CEO Pietro Beccari in a press release, noting that town shares a “frequent spirit” with the posh model.
The present marks a symbiotic three-party partnership between the model’s father or mother firm LVMH, the Korea Tourism Group, and Seoul Metropolitan Authorities, as a part of an try to draw extra guests to South Korea.
It’s a part of a wider tourism effort for 2023-2024 “Go to Korea 12 months.” The initiative goals to encourage as many as 30 million abroad vacationers to journey to the capital this yr. The collaboration will embody lengthy and brief time period tasks that protect the river and its biodiversity, and promote tourism in Seoul by way of vogue exhibitions and different content material.
The deal comes as luxurious manufacturers more and more look to capitalize on the rising international fascination with hallyu, a time period denoting the so-called Korean wave of in style tradition that has unfold world wide for the reason that Nineties, with the success of Ok-pop music and Korean dramas. In February, Louis Vuitton introduced that J-Hope, a band member of the worldwide sensation BTS—who have been lauded by Seoul’s tourism board in 2018—can be its latest model ambassador. He’s the most recent member of his band to companion with a luxurious model, after his bandmates Jimin and Suga, signed profitable offers with Christian Dior and Valentino respectively.
Key figures from South Korea’s tradition scene will probably attend Saturday’s present; Squid Sport star HoYeon Jung and mannequin So-ra Choi, who each star within the ladies’s pre-fall 2023 marketing campaign, are anticipated to be current.
“I feel luxurious vogue homes view Seoul as a hip metropolis as a result of it has a younger and energetic temper,” says Kyoung Eun Rhee, a former vogue editor at Elle journal and a stylist to younger Korean actors. Whereas Korean tradition as soon as had a small following, social media has afforded artists a bigger platform, permitting them to construct a mainstream fanbase of younger individuals, she says.
“These international younger generations made luxurious homes concentrate on Ok-pop. Younger individuals everywhere in the world will likely be their major buyer base sometime, so having markets in these varied international locations is essential,” says Kyoung. The suitable model ambassadors could make luxurious merchandise appear attainable to younger residents throughout Asia, slightly than an asset reserved for older generations, she provides.
As such, Ok-pop stars have gotten more and more seen in luxurious model campaigns, with Blackpink, one of many world’s hottest woman teams, working with Celine, Chanel, Dior and Saint Laurent. In Might, Gucci can also be set to host its postponed cruise assortment present in South Korea to mark the model’s 25 years within the nation, and there Girls’s Put on Every day reviews that Saint Laurent can also be contemplating a Seoul present this yr.
“Analysis tells us that the hallyu business has been a significant draw for tourism to Korea, notably inter-Asian tourism, which tends to be realized in giant group excursions which can be properly organized,” Mary Ainslie, an affiliate professor on the College of Nottingham Ningbo China Campus who makes a speciality of Southeast Asian tradition and media, tells TIME.
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Ainslie says tour teams seeking to go to key filming areas utilized in Korean dramas and different associated websites convey shopper spending: “Including vogue manufacturers into this bundle just isn’t tough, although it typically depends upon how properly related the assorted artistic parts are, as these totally different merchandise should feed into one another and (in the end) be related to ‘Koreanness,’” she notes in an e-mail to TIME.
Between 2000 to 2019, South Korea noticed a 12.18 million improve in inbound guests, rising from 5.32 million individuals in 2000 to 17.5 million in 2019, based on Statista. However because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the variety of vacationers fell to unprecedented lows, dropping by 85% in 2020 (2.52 million) and an extra 62% in 2021 (97,000). Traditionally, South Korea attracts many vacationers of their twenties from neighboring international locations reminiscent of Japan and China, however it’s more and more attracting vacationers from world wide.
To treatment the hard-hit business, the Korean Tourism Group collaborated on a video marketing campaign with Netflix in 2020 to advertise its providing of South Korean tv and movie productions on its platform, providing its international viewers a wealth of Korean content material. The marketing campaign strengthened the enchantment of hallyu tourism, which the nation is hoping to capitalize on this yr—and so, too, are luxurious manufacturers.
“Because the starting of hallyu’s abroad enchantment within the mid-2000s, Korean vogue has at all times been part of this business, although to a lesser extent than cosmetics,” says Ainslie, “Style was typically marketed by way of its connection to Korea, although it tended to not be luxurious items, which is a newer improvement in abroad nations.”
Earlier than the pandemic, Koreans usually made luxurious purchases overseas, as manufacturers tended to supply higher offers in different international locations, however this grew to become tough throughout the pandemic and demand for luxurious started to rise, Korea JoongAng Every day reported. Morgan Stanley figures reported by CNBC present that South Koreans grew to become the world’s largest spenders per capita ($325) of luxurious merchandise in 2022, surpassing each Japan ($280) and China ($55).
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In 2022, the so-called Huge Three luxurious manufacturers—Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton—made round 4 trillion received ($2.98 billion) in gross sales in Korea in 2022, with the latter changing into the nation’s top-performing model, Korea JoongAng Every day reported. The publication added that Louis Vuitton, which opened its first retailer in Seoul in 1991, recorded web income of 380 billion received ($283.8 million). “Leveraging the picture of Koreanness by luxurious manufacturers provides a selected connection to each cosmopolitanism and Asianization, the notion of being a worldwide citizen but one firmly mounted within the Asia area,” says Ainslie. This, she provides, is a key attribute of hallyu’s worldwide branding.
Tapping into different promising international markets seems to be a rising precedence for luxurious manufacturers, notably as luxurious gross sales flatline in markets just like the U.S. In December, Dior confirmed its fall assortment within the Giza desert with Egypt’s most recognisable pyramids because the present’s backdrop. In March, the French model additionally hosted a landmark runway present in Mumbai drawing a variety of excessive profile celebrities to India. Whereas lengthy established vogue capitals will proceed to the business, new cities are growing their very own luxurious identities.
Ainslie says worldwide luxurious manufacturers have been interested in hallyu as a result of it’s a “notably versatile cosmopolitan mannequin of pan-Asianness” that has capitalized on a wave of modernization all through the area. “It was capable of obtain a lot wider regional success than its predecessor of ‘Cool Japan’ resulting from its lack of a pre-existing unfavorable historic popularity,” she provides.
Its longevity over the past three a long time is because of its capacity to adapt however as extra institutions search a bit of the worthwhile hallyu pie, Ainslie says globalization brings new issues: “The problem just isn’t how one can innovate, however how one can preserve this tradition as particularly consultant of Koreanness when it’s now such a worldwide phenomenon.”
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