“Select shops” are stores that feature a range of brands chosen to target a specific audience. Over the last decade they have appeared and grown in popularity in Korea, making a place for themselves as a place to introduce, incubate, and grow global trends in the local market.
Samsung C&T’s Fashion Group has two such specially curated outlets in Korea: BEAKER, which opened in 2012 and now has a 3rd flagship store in Seoul’s trendy Seongsu neighborhood, and 10 Corso Como, the flagship store of which is in the up-market Cheongdam neighborhood. This article will focus on the latter through an interview with its flagship store team leader.
What is 10 Corso Como?
Leading the team
The secret of any select shop is choosing brands and items that sit well together and appeal to its target market. Jun Bora is team leader at 10 Corso Como in Cheongdam and she describes the enduring popularity of the store: “Even when the fashion market shows uncertainty such as sluggish consumer sentiment, there is always interest in items that put a smile on a person’s face and some joy in their heart.”
Jun first joined Samsung C&T Fashion Group as a designer in 2003. When she heard that 10 Corso Como was opening a select shop in Seoul in 2008, she jumped at the chance to join the team. Starting as a buyer of womenswear, she now runs the Cheongdam flagship store.
Asked to describe the role of a merchandiser at 10 Corso Como, Jun Bora explains that it involves going on buying trips each season to place orders for new items. Paris Fashion Week is the centerpiece event. International buying means finding the right brands to fit the look and feel of 10 Corso Como in Seoul. There are about 400 brands in the stores, and 20 percent is changed – once for spring/summer season and once for fall/winter. In order to find the right 80 or so brands to bring in, Jun says she must visit around 240 brand showrooms, culled from a list of roughly 400 brands chosen in advance.
Finding and incubating the right brands
Like her counterpart at BEAKER, Jun Bora says she concentrates on discovering brands with unique brand value for 10 Corso Como. When she finds one that shows potential, she invests in it and watches it grow. This, she argues, is the strength of 10 Corso Como, that the merchandisers are able to build up a long-term relationship with a brand.
Ami, Lemaire, and Jacquemus are three French labels with ties to 10 Corso Como that go back more than 12 years. Jun spoke of her first encounters with these brands in Paris at the time. Of Jacquemus, she said, “Back then, Jacquemus was a fresh young designer. We started buying from his first season and haven’t stopped in 12 years.” Turning to Ami, she said “The heart that has become Ami’s signature logo was originally our suggestion. We have built trust through constant communication over a long time.” Then BTS and other K-pop group members began wearing Ami and now it is globally popular.
Thanks to this kind of long-term investment and collaboration, these brands are now luxury labels popular with Generation MZ (millennials and younger).
Since 10 Corso Como is a multi-faceted cultural space, Jun Bora explains that it is designed for slow shopping. She advises people visiting the store to take their time, look around, sit down with a beverage while looking at the books and art to get a sense of what is trending and what appeals to their sense of fashion.