You can’t think about electronics without Samsung popping up into the mix. From TVs, Fridges, smart phones, washing machines, their products – cough sans the rather fiery Galaxy Note 7 cough – are synonymous with electronics that have helped shape the modern world as we know it today. So it’s only natural that this electronic giant would be involved in one of the biggest industries in the world, having already dominated the Korean fashion scene. But it turns out that fashion has always been in the company’s blood.
At the second Condé Nast International Luxury Conference in Seoul, Seohyun Lee, President and CEO of Samsung C&T Corporation, Fashion Group, expressed that 10 years before Samsung went into electronics, it was actually starting out in the textile business. Around the mid-1950s Samsung’s founder – Lee Byung-chul – set up Korea’s largest wool mill and from there has grown into one of the world’s largest conglomerates. They may have made electronics their core function, but they added industrial materials and trading/services, which is where Samsung Fashion falls.Fast forward to 2015, and the merger of Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T brings the reputational strength of both entities to push Samsung forward as a lifestyle innovator. The fashion division has created a diverse portfolio that includes everything from outdoor, casual, sports, formal wear to accessories and children’s apparel. This, and their move to expand into women’s clothing via brands such as LEBEIGE and KUHO have cemented this group as a leading brand in Korea’s fashion industry. But that isn’t all. In answer to the fast fashion trend globally, and in order to compete with companies that have so far dominated this front such as Zara and H&M, they created the 8seconds brand. Why 8seconds you ask? Well, this was based on a discovery by Japanese educator Makoto Shichida that it only takes people eight seconds to realize a new situation or to become acquainted with a new individual. That means that you only have eight seconds to make a lasting first impression, and the company intends to captivate consumers’ minds and attention using design and products. Talk about putting thought into something. With offices in fashion hotspots namely Milan, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo, it’s only natural that they would develop preeminent brands such as Juun. J to make their entry in the global fashion market dominion and promote Korean fashion to the world. It also has vested interests in foreign brands such as Balmain, Comme des Garcons, Nina Ricci, Tory Burch and Rick Owens. (Check out Rick Owens at Paris Fashion Week) The Fashion Group also happens to be involved contributing to the fashion industry via development arms such as the Samsung Design Net – aka Korea’s largest fashion database – and the Samsung Fashion institution. The latter brings together outstanding experts in the industry to analyse the industry for the latest fashion trends and works closely with the Samsung Design Net to conduct consumer research in order to create a concrete brand strategy. Samsung fashion division in America goes a step further by offering designers a partnership with Samsung C&T and their military precision. This is basically the kind of platform local designers crave, a partnership where the designer is given the space to design, embrace creativity and chart their strategic growth while Samsung deals with the icky part. These are the Fashion Inventory Financing, Fashion Inventory Logistics, Transportation & Warehousing, Global Infrastructure Platform, Invoicing, and Accounts Receivables & Collections. It accomplishes all this, as well as, providing complete financing and a back-end logistics platform to wholesale businesses, without taking the control aspect from the brand itself to focus on strategic growth.
One brand that was able to utilise Samsung’s credibility and global awareness in their business expansion is FUBU. Their men’s sportswear is considered one of their most successful stories because it was able to transition from a virtual start up to making $200 million in just five years. “I ended up finding a great strategic partner in Samsung America, who understood global distribution. Samsung directed me, guided me, and assisted me in my global expansion. Also, with a huge international company like Samsung on our side, we instantly had an incredible amount of clout with all the retailers.” –Daymond John, CEO of FUBUOther brands they are currently working with are Catherine Malandrin, Diesel Kids and U.S. Polo Association as well as LJP International who has the licence for the likes of Nine West and has reported double-digit growth for the four years they have been with the Samsung fashion division.
From production to back door operation’s management, you’d think that Samsung’s plate would be full. But they take on more by working on ways to collaborate with the fashion industry to promote their tech. They managed to penetrate the Apple loyal front row of Fashion Week with bloggers such as Style Bubble’s Susie Lau and Bryanboy having been spotted with Samsung Notes. In fact, marketing expert and author of “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships,” Andrew Davis, expresses that, “[i]nstead of trying to be everything to everyone, Samsung’s effectively positioned the Note as a phone designed to work for fashion designers. That’s really smart, and it sounds like its working”. Another way they’ve tapped into industry influencers is by working with fashion designers. For example, the limited edition Alexander Wang 100% cowhide Wallie gym sack. Inspired by crowd-sourced sketches and images created using the GALAXY Note II, it’s the first co-created bag and it was all to raise funds for Art Start, a charity that nurtures the creative talents of at-risk children and youth through the arts.
For spring 2014, Fallon Designer – Dana Lorenz – created a line around Samsung gadgets, in particular the Samsung’s Galaxy Gear—smart watch and the Galaxy Note 3. The jewellery designer collaborated on clothing designs with friends Ohne Titel for her first NYFW show. They partnered with Vogue to create an accessory collection, known as the Rich Accessory Collection, to give Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge users the freedom to customize their mobile experience and reflect their individual style. Partners that came on board include Burton, Swarovski, Montblanc, Rebecca Minkoff, and Romero Britto.
And did we mention they were on the August 2015 cover of Harper’s Bazaar? It was a first for UK media to integrate content that way on a cover and they chose to do so with a Samsung Galaxy S6.It’s no secret that technology plays a major role in revolutionizing the global fashion industry and taking the lead in this market. But in the words of Lee Seo-hyun, the President and CEO of Samsung C&T’s fashion division, “[t]echnology can never surpass human creativity, but there is greater potential when the two are combined”. Samsung is just an example that tech and fashion can have a symbiotic alliance on several fronts and work towards limitless future luxury. They’ve already shown tech can work with African designers via their Samsung Amaze. The only question is when will local designers and tech brands join forces to drive forward fashion in Kenya… an industry whose full potential hast been embraced just yet.
We leave you with just some of the productions that the Samsung Fashion Group has produced in recent times… share with us your thoughts in the comments below.
It chose to showcase a reinterpretation of the 1950s military look for the 17 SS Paris Collection.
Forbes selected the Korean uniforms worn for the Rio Olympics as best design in their ‘Best 5’ list. It was the combination of the pants and blazer, in addition to their complimentary moth proofing that made them fashion favourites.
Beanpole is a leading traditional casual fashion brand in Korea, launched first by Cheil Industries in 1989. Beanpoleen, women, kids and golf in order to compete toe to toe with international brands.NONAGON
This global young street fashion brand was that had been jointly founded by Samsung C&T Fashion Group and Natural9. Since the display of potential with its first popup store sold out in just 3 days, NONAGON continues with its success by opening popup stores not only for international but also domestic customers.Samsung C&T Wearables
Samsung C&T Debuts Wearable tech clothing and accessories at Consumer Technology Association (CES) 2016. These include:
‘Sol Bag’ – an environment-friendly women’s clutch bag which is designed to use hexagon-shaped solar panels to charge a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or a portable battery charger. It takes about 4 hours to fully charge a smartphone in daylight.‘NFC platform for Smart Suit – ‘Smart Suit’ is a suit line of ‘Rogatis’, Samsung C&T’s representative menswear brand, which was first introduced in fall 2013. ‘Smart Suit’ has an NFC tag embedded in a sleeve button. The NFC tag works with a mobile app to offer features customized by the user such as transmitting their e-business card to someone else smart phone.
‘Body Compass 2.0’ and ‘Welt (Smart Belt)’ – fitness wearables where the former is a bio-smart shirt, equipped with ECG (electrocardiogram) and EMG (electromyogram) sensors which track the user’s heart rate. The latter analyses data from daily activity as well as the wearer’s waist size to beat negative lifestyle habits such as overeating