Top 10 Online Korean Fashion Startups to Watch – Best of 2019

Seoul is becoming the fashion hub of Asia.  Seoul hosts its popular Seoul Fashion week twice a year.  Fashion has always been a part of Korean culture and it is now bigger than ever.  Online Korean Fashion startups are on the rise as Korean fashion continues to get global recognition.  Korea’s startup fashion scene is trending among Korean venture capitalists as well.  Record amounts of funding are being raised in Korea for many Korean fashion startups thanks to online shopping and Instagram.

Online Korean Fashion startups are on the rise due to online shopping and social media which connects startups and companies with their customers and also helps trends go viral.  Many Korean online fashion startups have a successful social media strategy that allows them to compete with traditional players who lack a digital footprint.  The advantage for Korean startups in the fashion industry is their ability to act instantly on feedback for maximum customer satisfaction.

1. Womanstalk

Korean Fashion Startup WomanstalkKorean fashion startup Womanstalk is a video commerce platform where influencers can introduce and promote products and gain a share of the sales revenue.  Womanstalk benefits suppliers, influencers, and customers.  Suppliers get marketing resources, influencers make money, and customers get products at the lowest possible price.  Womanstalk started in the beauty industry but now has expanded into the fashion/lifestyle industry.  They have over 2 million active monthly users and have over 250,000 products currently displayed on their site.

Womanstalk has over 100 active influencers that promote and sell products by uploading high-quality content on their SNS.  Some of these content get over 1 million views.  Womanstalk has gotten over $100 million in funding from venture capital firms like Korea Investment Partners, Intervest, IMM, and many more.

2.  29cm

Korean online fashion startup 29cmKorean online fashion startup 29cm sells not only sells clothes but also lifestyle goods, home appliances, food, and etc.  They started out with fashion to give consumers a unique experience with local Korean fashion brands.  They get over 1 million visitors to their site every month.  There are over 2,000 brands on their platform.  Their site looks more like a fashion magazine than an eCommerce site.  Their mobile app has also won many design awards.  Korean fashion mobile app StyleShare is a major stakeholder of 29cm.  In addition, they will work together to bring high-quality content and continue to discover new brands and products that will help expand their customer base.

3.  ZIGZAG

Korean Fashion Startup ZIGZAGKorean fashion startup ZIGZAG is an online platform that collects fashion product information from different online shopping malls.  In addition, the platform offers suggestions based on its algorithm for optimal recommendations.  Ther recommendations are based on the data collected from consumer’s shopping patterns.  They offer a weekly ranking list that is specialized for each consumer.  They also offer the latest fashion trends as well as an option to put items on their wishlist.  Furthermore, their app offers a wide range of fashion brands and already has over 10 million downloads.  They have already raised over $10 million in funding to date.  Their focus for 2019 will be to expand into other regions across Asia and eventually expand into the U.S.

4.  W Concept

W Concept Korean Fashion StartupKorean Fashion startup W Concept was launched by Korean eCommerce platform WIZWID.  W Concept is the digital marketplace that introduces independent mostly Korean fashion brands to a wider market.  They have also started to integrate independent designers from the U.S. and European markets.  W Concept does not hold all its own inventory.  Instead, W Concept builds partnerships with independently run brands who don’t have the resources to do retail on a large scale.  Once an order is placed the brands themselves send the items to W Concept who then send the item to the customer.

W Concept is now one of the top fashion retail sites in Korea.  They have expanded to markets in China, Canada, and the U.S.  W Concept has done a great job of finding the right influencers to raise brand awareness.  In addition, their social media is one of their best tools for getting their brands out to the masses.  They even have a concept store in New York that showcase the designs of limited collections from popular Korean and other Asian designers.  Customers can not go home with the items at the pop-up store but they can scan a QR code and have the items delivered to them.

5.  RAWROW

Korean Fashion Startup RAWROWKorean online fashion startup RAWROW is an accessory online shop known for its practical designs.  They are known for their backpacks, glasses, and luggage.  They became popular in Korea through viral campaigns on Facebook.  Furthermore, RAWROW did over $9 million in sales in 2018 and they currently export their products to over 13 different countries like China, Singapore, Japan, and Germany.  RAWROW signed a contract to get funding from Shinsegae International which is the fashion arm of Shinsegae.

6.  Stripes

Korean Fashion Startup StripesKorean Fashion startup Stripes is a Korea-based apparel company that designs and manufactures men’s clothing products.  They specialize in offering consumers personalized styling services.  Therefore, consumers can personalize their clothes to get the right fit.  They have a website as well as an app.  Both allow customers to get tailor-made shirts that fit perfectly.  Tens of thousands of measurement data is used to offer the best fit possible.  They can even choose their desired fabric.  All the data is stored on their platform so customers can reorder with ease.

7.  Swatch On

Korean Online Fabric Shop Swatch OnKorean online fashion startup Swatch On sells a variety of unique, high-quality wholesale fabrics.  Their aim is to make the process of fabric sourcing as easy as possible.  They offer fabric visual guides and great customer service to make the ordering process simple.  Therefore, Swatch On serves as a global community for up and coming fashion designers, as well as provide access to local South Korean fabrics.  They have a large selection of over 170,000 products from over 2,000 wholesale suppliers based in Korea.  They offer free fabric samples and if a fabric is out of stock they will recommend the closest match possible.

Their focus for 2019 will be to introduce fabric suggestion tools using AI technology and lower prices.  They have a large collection of fabric swatches from Dongdaemun.  The data contains a photo, detailed descriptions of the material, and a video of the sample being stretched and squeezed.  All of Swatch On’s clients are based outside of Korea.  Their biggest client is the United States which represent almost half their sales.

8.  Codibook

Korean Fashion Startup CodibookKorean online fashion startup Codibook is an online shop that offers daily tips on the latest Korean fashion trends.  Codibook provides several choices and recommendations from other satisfied consumers.  They upload new and different styles of fashion items.  Therefore, once a consumer selects an item of clothing, Codibook will provide a variety of choices to go along with that item.  Therefore Codibook becomes your very own personal stylist.  In addition, they also have a mobile app which allows users to share the items with their friends on social media.  Codibook is a one-stop-shop for those interested in fashion tips and independent Korean fashion brands.

9.  ClosetShare

Korean Fashion startup ClosetshareKorean fashion startup ClosetShare is a service that allows consumers to earn money by sharing/rent their clothes and accessories in Korea.  Users can share their items on ClosetShare as well as keep track of how much money they have earned and their rental status.  In addition, those that apply for both sharing and renting their items are offered shipping and cleaning services through the ClosetShare app.  Furthermore, they offer an insurance plan (5,000 won a month) for potential damages or loss of items.  ClosetShare has gotten funding from KakaoVentures.

10.  Brich

Korean Fashion Startup BrichFashion startup in Korea Brich is an O2O service delivering the latest Korean fashion trends online. Their goal is to deliver a more personalized shopping experience to consumers.  They focus on small Korean fashion labels and have already partnered with over 100 brick and mortar fashion boutiques in trendy areas in Seoul like Gangnam and Apgujeong.  Brich gives these independent Korean fashion brands an online outlet.  Therefore now shoppers can see their individual items or browse through the entire collection of brands on Brich.

Brich has raised over $6 million in funding from Korean VC firms such as Intervest.

Honorable Mention

BALAAN

Korean Fashion Startup BALAANKorean fashion startup BALAAN is a platform that allows you to get the latest luxury goods in just 3 days at a lower price than overseas.  The reason they are able to do this because BALAAN has made contracts with many European local boutique stores.   They offer a wide range of luxury items for both men and women.  They sell everything from clothes to accessories to jewelry.

Fashion KODE

Korean Online Fashion Community FashionKODEKorean fashion startup Fashion KODE is not necessarily an online fashion shop but rather a fashion culture community that holds a show twice a year.  Their fashion culture market offline events aim to strengthen the competitiveness of Korean brands and to develop the fashion culture industry.  In addition, the event which is run by the Korea Creative Content Agency is a three-day fashion festival that showcases fashion exhibitions, trade shows, and fashion shows.  Furthermore, they are also known for having the most entertaining fashion shows and catwalks in Korea.  For example one of their festivals had popular musical actors wear items from Korean brands as they performed a number of songs from their iconic shows.

Their site offers lookbooks for many independent brands in Korea so costumers can browse before going to their event.