In the morning of our 5th day in South Korea, we visited “La Maison Hermes Dosan Park”. It was an astonishing building located in one of the most exclusive zones in Seoul that integrated a boutique with the main offices of Hermes. We were received by the CFO, who during one hour and a half gave us an amazing presentation about the history of the company and answered the questions we had.
In 1837, Hermes was established in Paris by Thierry Hermes offering high quality products for horse equipment. In 1922, when his son Emilie Hermes took over the management of the company, Hermes had a shift into innovation and began selling in retailing shops. Furthermore, as he was highly interested in the automotive industry and traveling, the company diversified its products and a museum was opened to show the articles brought back from travels, which made part of his collection.
The Free trade agreement that entered in vigour in 2011 between South Korea and the European Union, opened the doors to many luxury companies in the Asiatic Country. In Korea, Hermes is comprised by a small group of only 170 employees who work under a set of values such as modernity, creation and innovation.
The store manager is the one deciding what would fit better to Korean´s tastes according to his experience and knowledge of the industry. Hence, the store manager has freedom for buying from the global collection with the purpose of satisfy the customers´ expectations, who alike Japan started to become extremely sophisticated when it comes to luxury goods.
In fact, luxury is something that can be easily perceived in South Korea. From the cars you can see everywhere to the apparel of most of its inhabitants, it is not difficult to conclude that there is a middle class that has become a very interesting market for many luxury brands around the world. Henceforth, as the population started to become richer, the concept of image in the South Korean´s mindset started to play a major role as can be perceived everywhere and they are definitely investing more on their physical appearance.
As explained by the CFO of Hermes, one of the factors that has allowed the expansion of luxury goods in Korea are the Duty frees. This system is unique in the world since there are some shops authorized to sell the goods in the shops with 0% taxes, that are located in the downtown but these goods are delivered directly in the airport. In consequence, the duty free trade is incredible high as it has been growing faster than the domestic market.
After the presentation we could walk around the three floors of the store. It was an impressive atmosphere, full of colours and appealing designs for all the tastes. We could see from scarfs to the home collection and we could conclude that the designs were as impressive as the prices.