K-fashion is receiving more attention from the global fashion industry, along with the boom of the South Korean media business. Nevertheless, the overall industry is not doing well. In fact, the market has been shrinking, and it currently accounts for only around 2.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
However, the situation at backpack startup Rawrow is different.
Rawrow CEO Lee Eui-hyun
Park Ga-young/The Investor
Established in 2011, Rawrow is one of the few accessory makers that didn’t rely on advertising using popular celebrities. Despite this, or possibly owing to this straight-forward business strategy that was combined with great products, it was invited to open a pop-up store in 2015 at the headquarters of Facebook in the US. Facebook Asia-Pacific headquarters also contacted the firm to be a model for its brand video project two years ago.
“They told me that they perceived us as a major retailing company with real, active followers, without using paid advertising services,” Rawrow CEO Lee Eui-hyun told The Investor. Currently, the eight-year-old company is also exporting its products to over 12 countries.
“We are expecting around 10 billion won in sales this year,” he said. This amount is impressive since he started his business with 20 million won. “We started off by selling bags in a flea market,” Lee added.
The secret behind Rawrow’s popularity, even outside Korea, is its practical design. “I can explain the reason for every little detail of our products,” Lee said. “For instance, I made the lining fabric of our bags white, instead of black, which is not commonly done. I got this idea from how snow reflects light. With the reflecting light users can spot small items like lip balm and coins inside the bag more easily.”
Lee also put a lot of efforts into forming a unique brand image. “Starbucks does not use vibration bells. Instead, it calls out customers’ names, which gives it a personal feel and has become part of its brand identity. We wanted to do this too, so we are doing some projects,” Lee said.
Currently, the bag maker is doing a project called Barter Market jointly with a local book shop. If a customer brings an old book, Rawrow gives some discount depending on the price of the book. The discount amount is double the price of the book sold on Amazon website.
“We came up with this project idea because going back to the original, basic and simple is our principle. I believe this has power,” he said. “We see that bartering is raw, which is a term that we used to indicate the original ways since it is the first method that people used to buy stuff.”
By Song Seung-hyun and Park Ga-young(firstname.lastname@example.org