from Seoul, South Korea
The brand 'REFUR' - inspired by a word 'Referral' - is a fur label based in South Korea launched in September 2016. Their goal is to put refined, sensible aspects to the products in order to remove the fairly heavy image of fur products. Ultimately, REFUR really did change that typical heavy image of fur products into a young, refined and sensible image at A/W collection in 2016.
Could you introduce your brand REFUR to our readers?
Sure, In South Korea, the image of fur products are kind of set at this old, conservative image. We wanted to make that image more trendy and sensible through our brand, REFUR. Within the name of our brand, there are hidden meanings like RE-introduce and RE-present.
I believe there are two directors running REFUR. How did you guys decide to launch a brand having 'real fur' as the main resource?
We were both directing our own jewelry brands when we got close. We both were super into fashion and also fur, so we naturally pushed ahead with this plan. When we started to go on research on domestic fur industry, we got to realize that the designs of the fur products produced by Korean designers were similar to each other and the products of foreign brands at the select shop were way too expensive, mostly. That is how we decided to create something high-quality fur products but with reasonable price.
How did you compose A/W 2016 collection? What is the main concept?
We wanted to show more of the characteristics of our brand as a whole, rather than showing the details of each product. Luxurious but not noble, wearable but characteristic, trendy but also classic. These are the main sentiments we tried to put in throughout our collection. The vocabularies I mentioned just now are the standards of REFUR which we would be containing throughout the future seasons ahead.
So the targeted customers of REFUR are from the 20s to 40s, right? Wasn't it hard for you to find the point of contact where you can range over all the age group with its design, color, and the fabric?
Our main targeted age group is the mid-30s. We love that rough but cool sentiment of the 20s when we admire elegant, relaxed sensibility of 40s. These are what made us to really think about what we want, what we want to buy and what we want to wear. Nothing really complicated.
It is true that there aren't any fur products that are sensually designed in Korean brands. What were the things that worried you guys before launching the brand?
We really thought hard and put a lot of time in how we would like to 'present' our brand through our products. We really wanted to approach fur with less weight of an image. It was really exciting to do BI, website, and lookbook of the brand, but I have to say it was also quite hard, to be honest.
What would be the hardest part when completing a product using 'real fur'?
I can assure that ALL of the real fur materials are very strict when it comes to a manufacturing process. I think it’s because the material itself is very seasonal, therefore limited. From searching, buying, dressing to dyeing, the manufacturing process itself is very different and it takes a lot longer than the other fabrics. But what was best for us this season – even though it was our first season- is that one of our directors Kyeongeun Kim, worked as a promoter for fur products in the past so everything went quite smooth.
Do you still remember all the moments at your launching show last September, where you first showed REFUR to public?
Of course. That particular day is still so vivid in my memory. I was very nervous and excited at the same time because I have been working so hard for that exact day of our first project for an entire year. So many people came and supported us including CEO Yoonki Jung, stylists, celebrities, fashion editors, buyers and more. The show became a huge issue, definitely exceeding our expectation.
How were the responses from customers at pop-up stores you did through Sinsegye department store, Hyundai department store and Corso Como VIP event?
We wanted our customers to actually see and touch our products hands on rather than having us explaining the intended concept. Thankfully, customers liked our brand and our products a lot and we also think that it was a great chance for both to exchange thoughts and minds. One of our products called ‘Full Length Mink Coat’ came out in a mahogany color and is a reinterpretation of this mink coat, which was worn by Gwyneth Paltrow in a movie called ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’. We designed this coat simply because we wanted to wear it and it’s actually sold out since so many customers and actresses loved this particular item so we can’t even wear them anymore. haha
Fur is a very seasonal material. How are you planning to develop it from where you are right now?
We are planning to expand the numbers of categories to leather, mustang and such. This will go to start from our pre-fall season collection of 2017.
Any memorable or fun moments during the launching process?
I would say that is when the first buying of 10 Corso Como was confirmed before the launching show in September. We were so hyped about it because for domestic fur based brand, it is very, very rare. We screamed and jumped out of joy when we saw our brand displayed right next to foreign luxury brands. (haha)
How do you feel after successfully wrapping up the first season?
Very thankful. I can’t even express how thankful I am towards our customers and all of the people who helped us out. I mean, we do have much more things to think about but we are both rather excited than worried.
What are the plans for REFUR in 2017?
As I mentioned previously, we are planning to expand the categories. Also, the stockiest will increase at select shops in South Korea such as 10 Corso Como or Koon. Lastly, we are thinking about bringing our products to showrooms in NYC and Paris for expansion.