Korea’s fashion market in 2014 was estimated to be worth GBP 33.8bn and has been growing at a rate of 5.6%. E-commerce and m-commerce have been major drivers in the growth of the market with the scope of online shopping exceeded that of offline shopping for the first time in 2013. The country’s SPA fashion segment is experiencing strong growth and is expected to grow 30% over the next several years. With a wide range of foreign fashion players in the market, Korea’s fashion market is recognized as a test market for global brands that aim to enter other Asian markets, including China.

Impact of the EU-Korea FTA

Implemented in July 2011, the EU-Korea FTA will lead to the removal of 97% of all tariffs for UK exporters. The FTA contains provisions on services, public procurement, intellectual property (IP) and sustainable development as well as the liberalization of goods tariffs. The FTA has ushered in enhanced protection for IP rights and improved copyright regulations.

Potential Opportunities

  • The market for SPA brands is expected to grow 30% over the next several years, which means ample opportunities for UK companies in this market segment

  • The scope of fashion products has expanded to include accessories, lifestyle products, which means more opportunities for UK suppliers of these products

  • Korea’s homegrown technologies and the country’s fashion industry are actively coalescing, which means growing opportunities exist for UK companies involved in big data analysis and wearable fashion technologies

Case Study: Leading Luxury Clothes Manufacturer

The Brief

A leading UK-based luxury clothes company appointed the BCCK to conduct a partner search of companies in the fashion retail market. The company was interested in identifying a local partner to help it re-enter and penetrate the Korean market successfully given the importance of the market in Asia and globally for its brand.

The Approach

The BCCK identified more than 40 potential partners and stakeholders in the Korean market and arranged nine meetings with key decision makers. At the end of the project, the BCCK provided the company with a comprehensive visit and market report outlining key opportunities, trends in the market, and strategies for partnership discussions.

The Outcome

Ultimately, the company selected one of the companies the BCCK identified as a partner, and decided to finalise a partnership deal. The BCCK provided advice and guidance to the company throughout the process of finalizing the new business relationship between the two companies. Ultimately, the BCCK provided a transparent and economical way for the company to smoothly enter the South Korean market.

Sector Specialist

Inwha Lee


Inwha Lee is a Coordinator in the BCCK’s Trade Services team. Inwha holds two bachelor’s degrees from Korea University in international studies and political science/international relations. Prior to joining the Chamber, Inwha worked at the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) assisting Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects and was also part of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea. While at the BCCK, Inwha has worked with companies in a wide range of sectors from F&B to the creative industries. Her past clients in the fashion space include Lulu Guinness, Joseph Cheaney & Sons, Johnstons of Elgin, and Harley of ScotlandLinkedIn



“We commissioned the BCCK to conduct thorough market research and to aid in our search for a new exclusive distribution partner in Korea. The team proved themselves to be highly knowledgeable and extremely diligent throughout the process. Their access to Korea’s largest and most influential fashion groups was impressive and their ability to understand and communicate our brand message to multiple potential partners was invaluable. Our understanding of the market nuances and culture is now far better positioned as a result of the process. The BCCK is made up of an excellent team of professionals that we would highly recommend to any British business looking to develop a new or deeper business in Korea.” 

– Greg Roberts, Head of International Development, SuperGroup plc

Some Companies Supported

For More Information

Download our one-page flyer regarding South Korea’s Fashion market here.

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