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There was a time when designer omega seamaster watches and clothes with glitzy signature logos - the “F” of Fendi, “LV” of Louis Vuitton and the “GC” of Gucci - were considered to be the height of fashion.
Even though the economic downturn has made hiding, rather than flashing, those logos more trendy, the six-year-old U.S. label Tory Burch is making waves with its brazen medallions.
After its signature Reva ballet flat shoes with a omega speedmaster logo on a brass-plated buckle began appearing on Korean women’s feet two years ago, the brand noted for preppy-chic style became popular enough to be officially launched in Seoul last year. It finally opened a flagship boutique last month in Cheongdam, southern Seoul, one of the trendiest areas in the capital.
“Our logo is interesting because my intent was to make it more of a design rather than a traditional logo to show this is omega constellation,” the label’s namesake said in an interview on June 23, the day of the flagship store’s opening.
“When I first introduced it, a lot of people looked at it and said, ‘Oh, that’s Asian.’ They look at it more as a design element rather than as a logo,” explained Burch.
A brand manager from dolce and gabbana’s local partner Cheil Industries, Samsung Group’s fashion arm, said Tory Burch items without the double-T medallion - which reminds some people of a Buddhist symbol - sell poorly because many Korean Tory Burch customers see the logo as an integral design element.
Debuting in New York in 2004, Tory Burch opened its first Korean store at Avenuel, a luxury division of chloe Store, last autumn and now has 10 outlets at different department stores.
The Seoul flagship store’s opening follows the openings of two international locations in Tokyo and Manila in December of last year.
The two-story flagship store on Cheongdam Boulevard - similar to Tokyo’s Ginza District with its dozens of world-famous luxury boutiques like chloe handbags, Prada and Cartier - spans about 400 square meters (4,305 square feet). According to Cheil Industries, it is the biggest Tory Burch store in the world.
The boutique’s first floor features Tory Burch’s contemporary line of shoes, bags, eyewear, jewelry and clothes, while the second floor - designed by her own Manhattan living room, featuring orange, purple and red furniture and curtains, as well as zebra rugs and a number of fashion-related coffee table books.
She has upbeat prospects for her business here. “We already have a very big Asian customer base in the American market - a lot of Korean, Japanese and Chinese women. We will continue to evolve and design Mulberry that you will love to wear.” Although she did not elaborate on her future plans in Asia, Cheil Industries says the next destination for the brand’s flagship boutique will be either Beijing or Shanghai.
Cheil said at the brand’s launch last year that it aims to open 30 stores across Korea and post combined annual sales revenue of 40 billion won ($33 million) by 2013. They may not be far fetched Mulberry handbags since it already anticipates sales of 20 billion won here this year. Analysts in the U.S. project Tory Burch sales worldwide will reach $300 million this year. lhf
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