The latest development in Korea's growing luxury goods market is a trend for custom-made products. Customers are looking to show off their individuality and differentiate themselves from people carrying uniform products. Experts say the luxury goods market is saturated and thus is evolving towards bespoke products.
Samsonite opened a branch in Cheongdam-dong in June where it offers made-to-order luggage and bags. The basic designs are fixed, but customers can choose color, fabrics and other materials to taste. The products are then hand crafted in Europe, taking six to nine weeks to finish.
Men's apparel brand Ermenegildo Zegna allows shoppers to personalize their suits by choosing details like buttons, creases and any of 450 fabrics. Customers can even have their name and the date of manufacture embroidered in the suit. Cheil Industries men's apparel brand Galaxy lets customers select fabrics from about 100 fabrics for their suits.
At Salvatore Ferragamo, men can select the outsole as well as the materials and colors of their shoes. Custom-made Ferragamo shoes are made at the company headquarters in Italy and cost 20 to 30 percent more than ready-made shoes. Demand for Ferragamo custom-made footwear has soared this year, to the point where about 10 percent of its products are custom-made. Two years ago it was just five percent.
Park Si-young from Ferragamo Korea said, "Custom-made products express the wearer's individuality since they can be made with various options, unlike ready-made products. Recently, the number of male customers has grown remarkably."
Experts expect the trend for custom-made products to spread to new areas. Samsung Electronics recently released a new mobile phone and allowed a select few customers to create a custom color for it. Lee Dong-hun of Samsung Economic Research Institute said, "As manufacturing systems become more flexible, custom-made products can be more easily realized. Companies that fail to keep up with these trends will be wiped out."