A Growing Streetwear Empire

This story is part of a content partnership and media exchange between Neocha and MAEKAN. To see more of MAEKAN’s content on Neocha, click here.

It’s no surprise that some of the most authentic and successful retail concepts begin with a simple desire to bring new exciting things to a local crowd. But short of simply importing and selling a shop full of goods because they’re popular abroad, it takes an eye for the timeless and the “classic” that ensures those items will resonate with the target market in a way no derivative products could.

For Kang Seunghyuk, founder of WORKSOUT, what started as a personal mission to make overseas streetwear items available—and accessible—to Seoul’s fashion scene has since exploded into an empire that encompasses over 10 stores throughout the country.

We sat down with him as he prepared to celebrate the next milestone in his streetwear empire, the opening of a new location inside RYSE hotel in Seoul’s up-and-coming Hongdae neighborhood. He shared with us how far he’s come, the intricacies of the Korean fashion scene, and what it takes for a brand to succeed there.


本篇文章来自新茶媒体合作伙伴 MAEKAN 的内容交换。在 Neocha 上阅读更多 MAEKAN 的文章,请 点击此处

毫不意外,一些真实的成功销售案例都从一个简单的愿望开始,即为当地人带来令人兴奋的新事物。但事情不是单纯引进一些在国外很受欢迎的商品如此简单,而是要具备精准的眼光,找到能与目标市场中的人产生共鸣、跨时代、并无可取代的“经典”之作。

对于 WORKSOUT 的创始人 Kang Seunghyuk 来说,最初的使命是为首尔时尚界提供多一些海外街头服饰的选择。但时至今日,此一念头已经发展成为一个全国拥有 10 多家连锁店的服装帝国。

当他正准备庆祝他的下一个里程碑——在首尔逐渐崭露头角的弘大街区里,位于 RYSE 酒店里的新店面——我们在开幕时和他见了面。他与我们分享了他至今走來的路程、韩国时尚界的复杂性以及品牌如何取得成功的故事。

MAEKAN: What was the inspiration behind WORKSOUT?

Kang: This might be hard to explain, but in Korea, there’s this idea of “oldness”—that it’s the older generations that manage companies. Fashion companies still operate under this concept: they keep wanting to work with department stores, and when their products enter these department stores, the prices skyrocket, which makes it hard for ordinary consumers to buy them.

Before, it was really common to see items that would cost only 30 dollars in the US but sell for 60 dollars in Korea. But, I wanted to deconstruct all of that. I wanted to show that it was possible to get the same price for something here as you would in America, Korea or Europe. My goal was to show Korean people that you didn’t have to purchase particular items in the States and that they could buy the same items here.


MAEKAN:创立 WORKSOUT 背后的灵感是什么?

Kang:这可能很难解释。但在韩国有一种“守旧”的观念,公司的管理者仍然是老一辈,时装公司也是在这种概念下运作:他们一直希望与百货商店合作,但一旦商品进驻百货商店,价格就会一路飙升,使得普通消费者买不下手。

在之前,美国售价30美元的商品在韩国要价60美元,这种情形真的很常见。但是我想打破这样的状况。我想让人们知道不管是在美国、韩国或欧洲,都可以享有相同的价格。我的目标是向韩国人展示你不必特地到美国,在这里也可以购买到想要的东西。

MAEKAN: How did the opportunity with RYSE come about?

Kang: They first asked us to join them about three or four years ago, but at the time we were preparing to open our Apgujeong Store, so we declined their offer. But a year later, when we were open and WORKSOUT was doing well, I was given the offer again. Actually, it was a lot of work getting the brand into the hotel. I turned it down initially because it seemed like too big a project or plan and I thought it was too much to take on, but they really wanted to bring street brands into the hotel, so I eventually agreed. The very same Andre Caputo that designed our Apgujeong-dong store is also working on this project.


MAEKAN: 和 RYSE 的合作是怎么开始的?

Kang: 首先他们在3、4年前要求我们加入他们,但当时我们正在准备狎鸥亭的新店,所以拒绝了。但在一年后,当 WORKSOUT 表现不错而我们的时间也允许,我们再次得到这个提议。将品牌带入酒店事实上需要付出非常多心力,最初我拒绝了,因为这像是一个太过庞大的项目,我认为太超过了。但他们真的很想要把街头品牌带进酒店,最终我还是同意了。当初帮助我们设计狎鸥亭店的Andre Caputo 也参与了这个项目。

MAEKAN: What is unique about the Korean perspective toward fashion?

Kang: I guess it’d be accurate to say Koreans have a strong sense of loyalty? Fandom is a huge concept in Korea. There’s a community for it. So if there’s any one type of style or one type of brand, people will follow it. People from overseas like to dress a certain way that expresses themselves, but Koreans have a tendency to base their style around the brands they’re loyal to. If you like a certain brand, you’ll always like it and never throw it away or abandon it. So I’d say brand loyalty is one unique part of Korea.


MAEKAN: 韩国人对时尚的看法有什么独特之处?

Kang: 我想,韩国人有一种强烈的忠诚感,这样的描述应该是准确的吧。粉丝在韩国是很有影响力的,这是一个巨大的群体。因此,如果出现了某种特定风格或类型的品牌,人们就会跟随它。国外的人也许喜欢穿着可以表达自己的衣服,但韩国人倾向于以他们忠诚的品牌为穿搭的基础。如果你喜欢某个品牌,你会永远喜欢它,不会扔掉它或抛弃它。所以我认为品牌忠诚度是韩国独一无二的一部分。


MAEKAN: You now have four WORKSOUT stores and eight CARHARTT stores. What does it take to succeed in different Korean cities?

Kang: For one, if a brand succeeds in Seoul, it can succeed in any region of Korea. That’s why I opened up five stores in Seoul first, which led to a contact from Busan asking if I wanted to open up stores there and then later on again in Daegu. The reason for this is if you succeed in Seoul, you can then expand to other provinces. And if you take advantage of those opportunities, you’ll succeed no matter what because people from other regions always follow Seoul. So because we already did so well in Seoul, things really took off after that.


MAEKAN: 你现在有四家 WORKSOUT 商店和八家 CARHARTT 商店。在不同的韩国城市中取得成功的因素是什么?

Kang: 首先,如果一个品牌在首尔成功,它就可以在韩国任何地区成功。这就是为什么我先在首尔开了五家店,之后就有釜山的人联系我,接着是大邱。原因是如果你在首尔先取得成功,你就有机会扩展到其他城市,如果你好好把握这些机会,事情无论如何都会水到渠成,因为其他地方的人总是跟着首尔的脚步走。因为我们在首尔已经做得很好,我们的品牌就从这里起飞了。

MAEKAN: What direction do you see fashion in Korea taking?

Kang: As I mentioned earlier, it’s still a bit difficult for Koreans to express themselves. We always like to think that Koreans are like Americans in that we like to be bold and outspoken, but the truth is that we find it really hard to create our own color. However, if we talk about the nature of contemporary fashion in Korea, there’s a bit of movement there. Korean idols are so influential and people follow their fashion, so they’re beginning to develop their own color and style. Plus, people are aware of overseas influencers through Instagram and Paris and New York fashion, so they’re starting to draw their own style from it, in my opinion.


MAEKAN: 你认为韩国时尚的走向是什么?

Kang: 正如我之前提到的,韩国人对于表达自己仍然有点困难。我们总是以为韩国人像美国人一样,大胆直言,但事实上是我们连创造自己的风格都有问题。然而,如果现在我们谈论到韩国当代时尚的本质,已经有一些动静了。韩国偶像是如此有影响力,人们开始追随他们的时尚,进而开始发展出自己的风格。 此外,人们通过 Instagram 发现巴黎和纽约的时尚,了解到海外有影响力的人,因此我认为人们会从中汲取并演变出自己的风格。


MAEKAN: What role do you think the Internet has played in all this?

Kang: Back in the day, you had to read books for fashion. Books were more important than the Internet. I used to have tons of books at home, but now I don’t even have a single one. That’s because magazines, unlike books, are updated every day now. But back then, because the magazine came out only once a month, you’d get the latest news only as often, so the trends would be a little late. I think that would be the main difference: the speed in which trends would disseminate.


MAEKAN: 你认为互联网在这一切中发挥了什么作用?

Kang: 以前书比互联网更重要,你必须阅读时尚书籍去了解时尚。我以前在家里有很多书,但现在我甚至连一本书都没有。那是因为杂志的出现,与书不同的是杂志更新的速度非常快。但因为杂志通常都是月刊,一个月你只会收到最新消息一次,所以这样的速度还是有点慢。我认为这是主要的区别:趋势传播的速度。

MAEKAN: I was personally amazed by your Apgujeong store. How should people feel when they have a good physical retail experience?

Kang: The most important thing, in my opinion, is to get people to come to the store by having items on display, preparing events or collaborating with different brands every month at our store. For example, last year we had Nike, Adidas, Puma in our store to collaborate with us and hold parties and events every season and month to introduce their brand. This is how consumers get introduced to the brands and how we bring customers to visit our stores a little bit more often—and not just look online, but actually come and check them out.

MAEKAN: When I went to Apgujeong, I saw a lot of different brands there. How do you pick them and position them together in the same space?

Kang: When I look for a brand, the first criteria is that it’s a brand I can’t find in a department store. In terms of levels, you can see the brands on the first floor are curated so that when people come in they’ll think, “oh, I know these brands.”

When they head upstairs to the second floor, they’ll notice more niche brands that they don’t know but will still appreciate. And on the third floor, they’ll think, “they’ve got a mix of brands here, but I know all of this”.


MAEKAN: 狎鸥亭店让我感到非常惊奇。你觉得人们在良好的消费实体体验当下应该感受到什么?

Kang: 在我看来,最重要的是让人们愿意每个月到我们的商店看看架上的商品、参加活动或和不同品牌的合作。例如,去年我们的店里有 Nike、Adidas、Puma 等品牌与我们合作,每季或每月举办派对和活动来介绍他们的品牌。这就是让顾客如何了解品牌以及吸引他们更频繁地造访我们商店的方法——不仅仅是在网上看,而是实际到店里来看。

MAEKAN:当我去狎鸥亭店时,我在那里看到了很多不同的品牌。你是如何挑选它们并将它们放在同一个空间中?

Kang:当我在寻找品牌时,第一个标准是它必须是我在百货商店里找不到的品牌。在名气方面,你可以看到放置在一楼的品牌都经过策划,以便当人们进来时他们会想“哦,我知道这些品牌。”

当他们上到二楼时,这里有更多不太知名但仍然有吸引力的小品牌。到了三楼,他们会想“这里有各种各样的品牌,但我都知道。”

MAEKAN: As a foreigner, I always hear the fashion discussion in Seoul gravitate towards Itaewon and Gangnam etc. How would you describe Hongdae?

Kang: I personally think Hongdae will be the biggest neighborhood in Korea in the next five or 10 years. We’re already starting from the RYSE  hotel and building all the new buildings on this street, and the hotels and department stores will keep coming in.

Especially in this business district, there are lots of young people living there, so a lot of people pass by all the time. It’s different from Gangnam where it’s hard for people to move around, but here, there are lots of young people, restaurants, bars, and clothing stores too. So business isn’t going anywhere but up here, and more people will come.


MAEKAN: 关于首尔的时尚讨论,作为一个外国人我总是听到大家在谈论梨泰院和江南等街区。你会怎么形容弘大?

Kang: 我个人认为弘大在未来五到十年内将成为韩国最大的社区。从 RYSE 酒店开始,这条街上多了很多新建筑,更多酒店和百货商店将继续进驻这里。

江南区的行动动线不太好,但在弘大这个商业街区,有很多年轻人住在这里,人流很多。也有很多餐馆、酒吧和服装店。因此,我想生意不会流到别的地方,而是会往这里聚集。

Website: www.worksout.co.kr
Instagram: @worksout_official

 

Media Partner: MAEKAN

Contributor: Nate Kan
Photographer: Chris da Canha
Korean to English Translation: Martin Bae
English to Chinese Translation: Yang Yixuan


网站: www.worksout.co.kr
Instagram: @worksout_official

 

媒体合作伙伴: MAEKAN

供稿人: Nate Kan
摄影师: Chris da Canha
韩译英: Martin Bae
英译中: Yang Yixuan