Podcast - This month’s Fashion Friday podcast series by Euromonitor International explores the South Korean apparel and footwear industry and two key trends that have emerged in this market. Considered a matured industry that has stagnated, the South Korean apparel and footwear market has shown less than 2 percent growth in 2019, reaching 29 billion US dollars with a slow forecasted growth of 0.2 percent CAGR in constant terms for the next five years.

However, two key trends have emerged in this rather stagnated market, namely Newtro and Inclusive for all. Newtro a term combined by ‘new’ and ‘retro’ has become a huge pop culture in South Korea across all consumer goods sectors including fashion, beauty, packaged food, consumer electronics and appliances. In apparel and footwear, young consumers are revisiting clothing brands and styles, which belong to the 70s, 80s and 90s. Teens find it interesting to experience trends that prevailed during their parents’ youth and the older generation have a nostalgic attachment to the trend.

Brands which were popular back in the 90s are having a comeback with a taste of contemporary twist. Fila, a local Korean sportswear brand, which used to be a fading brand with negative growth up until 2017, has now successfully applied the Newtro trend and seen over 40 percent growth in 2018 and 23 percent growth in 2019. Similarly, Boy London – the street fashion king of the 90s made a successful comeback and is now worn by celebrities and influencers in South Korea.

The second trend – inclusive for all is a phenomenon known to the West but quite new for the South Korean market, which includes age, gender and size. This trend peaked after the anti-corset movement in 2018 and impacted the young South Korean consumers who are the main consuming base of beauty and personal care. It led them to wearing less make-up, off from high-heels and minimising personal grooming. Additionally, brands in South Korea are being inclusive of pregnant women as keeping active during pregnancy has become trendy and so has the rise of working moms.

While the current apparel and footwear market is currently heavily led by Generation Z, market players need to consider other demographics in South Korea. The country is one of the top 10 in the world with high life expectancy at birth and the highest average age of women at first childbirth. These pregnant population are more conscious in managing their health during pregnancy and are highly employed. Developing segmentation for these demands will be necessary for future penetration in the fashion industry.

Written and created for FashionUnited by Euromonitor. Euromonitor International is the world's leading independent provider of strategic market research.


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