Italian luxury brand Gucci announced it will stage its cruise 2024 show at Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace on May 16; the latest international fashion house to mount a runway show in key cities around Asia.
The cruise collection, which was originally scheduled for May 15, will celebrate the brand’s 25th anniversary in South Korea, after bowing its first boutique in the capital city in 1998.
The runway show will be held in front of Geunjeongjeon, the main hall of the Gyeongbokgung Palace, and will showcase a Gucci’s latest collection designed by the Kering-owned brand’s in-house team. Newly appointed creative director, Sabato De Sarno, will unveil his first designs for the brand in September, following the exit of Alessandro Michele in November.
Gucci’s showing in Seoul is no accident. Last year, as part of an agreement with South Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration, the Florentine luxury brand unveiled a three-year commitment to support the conservation and restoration of the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Cementing that partnership, Gucci had planned to bring its ‘Cosmogonie’ show to the palace, but cancelled it, following the tragic Halloween crowd crush in the city that killed more than 150 people and left dozens injured on October 29.
Gucci CEO, Marco Bizzarri explained that the Gyeongbokgung Palace “is one of those wonders of the world that made us feel an instant connection with Korean culture and the people who created it — Florence and Seoul, Italy and Korea, so far away on the map but so close in the creation of wonder,” adding that the location will help in “celebrating the past, as inspiration for the future.”
Gucci’s relationship with South Korea has also been strengthened with the recent signing of several local celebrities. Late last year, the brand signed K-pop star Hanni, lead singer of NewJeans, as its newest brand ambassador, joining ‘Squid Game’ actor Lee Jung-jae and musical artist, Kai.
According to Statista, the luxury goods market in South Korea is projected to grow by 4.63% from 2023 to 2028, resulting in a market volume of USD 8.44bn in 2028.
Meanwhile, South Koreans have become the world’s biggest spenders per capita on personal luxury goods, splashing out an average of USD 325 a year, analysts at Morgan Stanley say.
And, Gucci’s not the only major fashion house homing in on Korea as a key Asian market for growth in the next five years.
On April 29, luxury rival Louis Vuitton held its first ever pre-fall show in the Korean capital, at the Jamsugyo Bridge, on Hangang River. Like Gucci, the LVMH-owned fashion brand opened its first store in Seoul in 1991, and has since embarked on its Franck Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul and restaurant pop-ups increase its brand awareness in the market. Seoul was also a a stop for the maison’s ‘Volez, Voguez, Voyagez’ exhibition in 2017.
The Louis Vuitton show also marked the signing of a strategic partnership agreement (MOU) with Seoul Metropolitan City and the Korea Tourism Organisation. As part of the agreement, Louis Vuitton will engage in various projects to take the lead in preserving the natural resources of the Hangang River and improving biodiversity.
Furthermore, the Parisian brand also plans to include Hangang River-related content in the Seoul edition of its City Guide collection, and install a book kiosk at the Jamsugyo Bridge Walking Festival.
Finally, both Louis Vuitton and Korea Tourism Organisation will collaborate on a number of projects to promote Seoul and revitalize tourism, including a photo exhibition of the Fashion Eye collection featuring Seoul.
“I am thrilled to have Louis Vuitton’s first-ever pre-fall fashion show in the vibrant capital city of Seoul, showcasing artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière’s vision for the collection,” said Pietro Beccari, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton.
“A cultural hub that continues to draw global attention, Seoul shares a common spirit with Louis Vuitton for pioneering the future, reimagining creativity and nurturing savoir-faire. Presenting the collection on the iconic Jamsugyo Bridge over the Hangang River beautifully captures Louis Vuitton’s long-standing relationship and shared values with this cosmopolitan city.”
Beyond Seoul, Mumbai played host to the latest runway show from luxury fashion house Dior on March 30.
Held at the Gateway of India monument, a historic archway on the waterfront of Mumbai, the curation of women’s ready-to-wear designed by creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri included local savoir-faire and collaborations with local artisans, inspired by traditional Indian craftsmanship and textiles with strong colours, prints and embroidery.
The Dior show in India marked the first time a major European luxury brand has staged a standalone show in the country, highlighting India’s importance as a luxury market in the future.
According to Bain & Co., luxury spending by Indian consumers will hit EUR 25 billion (USD 26.5 billion) to EUR 30 billion by 2030, up from less than EUR 8 billion last year.