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Korea is a great market for independent and creative children’s brands. Interview with Jonathan Oh, founder and CEO of Teeke, and agency representing beautiful labels such as Bang Bang Copenhagen, Fub, Pigmee, Shampoodle, Zoe & Noe Berlin, to name only a few.

Jonathan, can you tell us about children’s fashion in Korea and consuming habits?

Even though the Korean market is not in good shape right now it seems many Korean parents still want to dress up their kids. One of the Korean characteristics is that parents are quite devoted and have much fervor for their children’s education. I would say that the children’s clothing market in Korea is still comparatively OK as most Korean parents don’t have more than a couple of kids. Although it’s true that the Korean economic climate has worsened, just like what has happened in the EU because of the Euro crisis.

Your choice of brands is very interesting, and very European; what type of parents dress their children in these brands in Korea?

I don’t know how familiar you are with the Korean War, but there was a baby boom right after it ended in 1953. As a result a second generation of baby boomers were born in the late 1970s. The babies born after the year 2000 – the 3rd generation baby boomer – are treated much better than how their parents got treated as young.  The 2nd baby boomers are called “Golden Kids’ Moms” since they spend more on their kids than on themselves. To distinguish themselves they are eager to have their kids identified by dressing them up differently. From this a sort of “mini-me” trend grew in Korea, therefore it’s a natural phenomenon that Korean parents look to European kids’ brands in order to make their kids more outstanding.

 Which brand did you start with and can you explain why?

It’s difficult to say which brand we started our business with because we contacted most brands almost at the same time. However the contracts with Bang Bang Copenhagen and Shampoodle were the first brands we got contracts with. Bang Bang Copenhagen has interesting looks and their own originality. It is also true that Bang Bang Copenhagen has become one of the biggest brands in Korea since then. My thoughts for Shampoodle was that it has its own color and style, which made me think Shampoodle is a real Scandinavian easy-wear brand. I of course love all brands under Teeke and each has its own remarkable points and specialties. I’m very happy to work with all of these brands.

Additionally speaking, Korea market has a lot of distribution channels and most of the brands cannot understand this fact. This can be the reason most brands don’t live alive in Korea for a long time. European brands currently being distributed in Korea have wide range of conditions caused by different retailers and distribution channels. As a matter of fact, even some of Teeke brands got in serious situation because of ex-retailers and conditions.

On the other hand, Shampoodle was the brand that has the best condition for Korea market when I first contacted them. Even they also knew about Asia market very well.

It did not take long for me to figure that Shampoodle has a competent sales manager from Korea, Haseok Lee. The most important point to brands getting ready for Korea market is to find a partner who has a good understanding of the market structure.

What international trade shows do you visit?

We have been to some several fairs so far but now Playtime Paris is the only fair we go to.

Can you tell me more about you : are you alone in business, with a partner, or is it a family business? When did you start the company? How many stores do you work with?

Mother company of Teeke, Oneeight Korea was founded in 2005 and is a distributor company for winter sports goods and I started to think about something I can enjoy myself doing when I became daddy of a daughter. This how I started Teeke as a side business of Oneeight Korea in November of 2012. It is a very different atmosphere from what I dealt with before but I found kid fashion business very interesting already. We have a quite many number of retailers we work with.

Can you make recommendations for people who visit Korea?

 1.Histroric Attractions

Gyeongbokgung (Palace). Is a royal place located in Seoul, Korea and was the main and largest palace of five grand palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty.

– Geongju Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD) which ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries. A vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain in the city.

 2.Shopping spot

Myeng-Dong Seoul’s main shopping district.

3. Restaurant

Its hard to answer but this is one of my favorite place : BICENA (Seoul). Whenever I need to go to Seoul, I visit there to feel a beauty of Korean traditional cuisines.

 4. Sea Bathing Place

Haeundae (Busan) One of the most famous and busiest beaches in Korea. There are many beach-related cultural events happening in Haeundae all the time.

Something special about Korea?

The #1 Youtube video, Gangnam style by Korean pop star Psy was a cultural phenomenon last year. Most people say that the reason he got fame from the song is just “very funny”.  Yes, it is true that the video was just insanely hilarious to all the people regardless of language barrier.

The reason is that the horse dance he did was a freedom we always feel thirsty for and we found vicarious satisfaction by dancing and watching it. Teeke hopes to be also a “Gangnam style” helping children feel freedom and unlimited imaginations.

We would love to keep distributing cool and funny brands to give the toothless coolness in Korea. Many thanks to all of you from Busan, Korea !

 

Teeke
NamCheon-Dong 51, 2F
Suyoung-Gu
Busan South Korea
613-815
TEL : +82 1644 0655
FAX : +82 (0)70 8255 0655
Brands Represented : 
Arsene et Les Pipelettes, Bang Bang Copenhagen, FUB,
Jessie and James, Koolabah, Organic Zoo, Patachou,
Pigmee, Shampoodle, Ubang babblechat,
Mina Shoes, Mummymoon, Noe & Zoe Berlin,
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