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Taking K-fashion Worldwide: The Evolving Structure of the Korean Fashion Industry and Implications for Policy

Author Park Hoon(박훈) Date 2021.04.30 Series
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The Korean apparel industry is a high value-added industry that creates value by fusing fashion design, highly-sensitive and functional materials and brand value.
In addition, the apparel industry, which consists of planning and design - patterns, samples, sewing and marketing - is a job-creating industry. The apparel industry contributes to job creation in front and rear related industries, including the fashion materials industry, the logistics and distribution industry and the knowledge-service industry which includes merchandisers.
However, the Korean apparel industry faces many difficulties. The level of growth and profitability is low and the production base has weakened due to the miniaturization of companies, an aging workforce, a deteriorating working environment and the relocation of production factories overseas.
The Korean apparel industry has fallen into a positioning trap, stuck between the checks of advanced countries such as Italy, Japan and Germany but with weaker price competitiveness compared to developing countries such as China, Vietnam and India. In particular, it is struggling to pioneer a global market due to weak price competitiveness with developing countries and inferior brand image and design compared to advanced countries.
In this regard, this study will identify policy tasks that will enable the Korean apparel industry to escape the positioning trap between advanced and developing countries and develop into a growing industry by pioneering global markets. In particular, it will also suggest ways to create a next-generation growth engine to strengthen global competitiveness and improve profitability and growth.