Competition in Korea is heating up with the popularity of SPA brands in the fashion industry and big players like Laniege, Sulawhasoo dominating the beauty market. Local and international consumers are thronging to purchase fashion and beauty products coming out of Korea. With the playing field afire with dominant players, new entrants have to differentiate themselves to make a name for themselves. But what can they offer to stand out from among the crowd?
The answer is simple: customisation. Startups are now delivering a more personalized shopping experience to consumers to match their exact needs. They are offering made to order products that would be unavailable in generic brands and creating a customer loyalty base through customisation. These three Korean startups are creating a stir in the K-Beauty and Fashion world by offering personalised products that are unavailable elsewhere.
By far the most successful K-Beauty startup to date, Memebox went all in on its global strategy after raising a $29 million Series A round in early 2015. Now the company, which sends subscribers boxes filled with the latest Korean cosmetics, is helping to spread the K-Beauty trend to the US and China, while remaining a strong player back in Korea.
With mask packs, cleansers and color cosmetics from popular Korean brands among its inventory, Memebox has expanded beyond subscriptions, becoming a major overseas retailer for Korean cosmetics. It has also introduced themed boxes that can be bought a la carte.
Last March, Forbes quoted Memebox’s founder, Hyungseok “Dino” Ha as saying, “We want to build Memebox into a global brand. Beauty in Korea is massive and we want to take it everywhere.”
Stripes.co is a South Korean based company launched in January 2013 that provides an online platform for men to order custom made clothes. Stripes.co prime themselves as a Premium mens dress shirt custom tailor service platform.
There has been a demand for personalized service with the popularity of O2O (online to offline) but many complain that there isn't enough time or money. Stripes offer men a tailored service where they can hire a stylist to visit them personally, take measurements and customize outfits. The measurements will be saved onto the website so that the client can shop again. Men can place orders for customised shirts, coats, pants and accessories on their platform.
Stripes recently raised USD $4.3M to expand their services overseas and launched in South East Asia with a Singapore Office in late 2015.
BIOSTANDARD Inc is a South Korean based company founded in June 2013, which produces organic and all natural jelly moisturisers and sun creams. Their brand Ceravine aims to provide a safer alternative to Vaseline, without harmful chemicals.
Ceravine jelly moisturiser is made from 100% natural vegan oil, ideal for sensitive and severely dry skin types. Their organic sun cream does not contain any harmful substances and does not result in side effects such as eye sores and irritation, while providing excellent UV coverage. Ceravine is perfect for consumers that desire protection from UV rays, without harmful chemicals. It has also been developed with the needs of athletes in mind, as their creams do not melt into sweat.
Control Clother is a firm that fosters and supports young emerging fashion designers. The company, available on the web, allows new designers to create their own brand and provides the platform to sell and distribute the designed products.
Control Clother offers a service where designers can focus on their designs without worrying about marketing or distribution of their product.
Once every year, the company recruits new designers and provide training where they can receive the opportunity to create and develop their own brands. After a careful evaluation, designers are then selected based on the marketability of the designs. Chosen designers are given the chance to launch their brand domestically and internationally. Control Clother will be in charge of the promotion, marketing and distribution of the brand.
If Memebox is connecting the world to Korean cosmetics, Brich aims to do the same for small Korean fashion labels. The company, which secured approximately $850,000 in funding in January 2016, has already partnered with 50 bricks and mortar fashion boutiques in the trendy Gangnam neighborhood, making their wares available online for the first time.
On Brich’s website, shoppers can view individual items, or browse through a store’s entire collection, helping to recreate the offline shopping experience and the serendipity of discovering something unexpected.
StyleShare is a fashion discovery platform that lets people share their daily looks or recent purchases. Having undergone a major overhaul in August of 2015, the now five-year-old company looks somewhat like Pinterest for fashion. Users create channels and upload their pictures, along with links to the fashions that they wear. Other users can follow their favorite trendsetters to get a steady stream of fashion inspiration.
Founder Jayeong Yoon aims to connect fashion media with e-commerce, allowing people to instantly buy the fashions they see, and providing another revenue stream for the content providers.