Korean apparel businesses in the United States are targeting the Chinese market as a new frontier as the fashion business in their current market continues to slow down.
China, once a manufacturing base for the clothing industry in the U.S., has now emerged as a legitimate market that is capable of ensuring maximum profit for many businesses. As China possesses the largest customer base, it is becoming a source of second chances for businesses that have hit a breaking point in their home market.
Moon International, one of South Korea’s pioneering street fashion businesses, opened a retail store in Guangzhou, China in April. Its introductory launching event in Guangzhou attracted about 40 visitors. Moon International was followed by EdgeMine, which began operating in China.
Recently, the Korean Apparel Manufacturers Association began exploring possibility to launching an online shopping mall in China. KAMA vice president Dae-jae Kim expects that the move could create a gateway for the “jobber” market in Downtown L.A., the Korean-run clothing businesses, to enter China for wider opportunities.
It has been known that Kim is close to reaching an agreement with Tencent’s Korean branch as well as other Chinese internet and gaming businesses.
“I’ve already made an inquiry to Tencent Korea about possibly entering JD.com and have already received a positive answer,” Kim said. “Chinese consumers have a deep interest in having access to a platform that showcases the diverse fashion trends in the United States.”
Kim added that about 1,800 apparel businesses owned by Koreans in Downtown L.A. are capable of complete production of apparels much faster than other manufacturers in the country, which gives them an edge when trying to break into the Chinese market.
“The biggest e-commerce company in China is obviously Alibaba,” said Kim. “Alibaba exceeds Amazon. JD.com is just behind Alibaba. Even though JD.com may not be globalized just yet, it already has over 600 million registered members. This could be a great opportunity for Korean jobber business owners who’ve struggled in recent years.”
It is highly likely that the KAMA will launch what will be called a “KAMA Zone” on JD.com to display various apparels manufactured by Korean businesses.
“Right now is the time for us to find every possible route to expand sales,” said Yoon-sae Lee, who currently owns women’s apparel business See You Friday. It would be great if the KAMA can step up and explore new opportunities for us. If the opportunity is right, there’s no reason for us to not take it.”
KAMA chairman Young-ki Chang added: “We remain optimistic about paving the way for businesses to overcome their recent struggles, but we will be sure to consult our board of directors and members as we have the obligation to pursue a greater goal to benefit everyone involved.”
By Moon Ho Kim