text by Frances Cha
SEOUL — Isabel Marant has a new home in South Korea.
The French designer feted her first standalone flagship in Seoul Thursday night. Located behind the Gucci flagship in Cheongdam-dong, one of the city’s most expensive areas, the more than 2,000-square foot store is housed in a two-story building that used to be a former restaurant. It opened to the public late last month.
“It’s quite a big space and it was important that we could show both the main line Isabel Marant and [diffusion line] Etoile,” said chief executive Sophie Duruflé, who flew in for the launch.
French architectural team Ciguë kept the concrete feel of the house, but added whimsical touches such as a ceiling of thin wooden beams of varying hues, fun fabric-covered blocks and a flowing installation of metallic plates to surround the mannequins in the window.
“The design was very influenced by the city of Seoul,” said Christophe Mollet, commercial director for Asia. “The people here are very glamorous and very fashion-conscious, and they use style to project power and authority.”
South Korea is currently the brand’s biggest market.
Arleen Kim, senior manager at LG Fashion Corp., Isabel Marant’s merchandising partner in Korea, said the brand has averaged 35 percent annual sales growth since 2009. Currently there are 15 stores in the country and there are plans for five more by next year.
“The high-tops sneakers are always sold out, and the biker jackets are also particularly popular,” said Kim.
Executives declined to give sales figures but said they expect the brand’s sales in South Korea to continue growing next year.
In a retail market driven largely by star power, Isabel Marant has also proved consistently popular with local celebrities.
“The celebrities here absolutely love Isabel Marant, which is why they were here today when they rarely go to events like this,” said Korea’s biggest celebrity stylist Yunki Jung. Girls Generation Soo-Young and “Cloud Atlas” actress Bae Doona were among the celebrities in attendance at Thursday’s event.
“They can’t get enough of the layered French casual look,” he said