Skip to content
  • KOSPI 3140.51 +10.42 +0.33%
  • KOSDAQ 1046.12 +6.69 +0.64%
  • KOSPI200 410.99 +1.77 +0.43%
  • USD/KRW 1169.1 -2.60 -0.22%
  • JPY100/KRW 1,065.58 -6.08 -0.57%
  • EUR/KRW 1,375.56 -9.21 -0.67%
  • CNH/KRW 181.9 -0.03 -0.02%
View Market Snapshot

Startups

Korea's plus-size fashion mall 09Women readies for 2022 IPO

09Women is being touted as Korea's Torrid amid growing demand for plus-sized fashion

By Sep 06, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Korea's plus-size fashion mall 09Women readies for 2022 IPO


The successful initial public offering of California-based plus-size fashion company Torrid Holdings Inc. has drawn attention to 09Women Co., a South Korean plus-size women’s fashion platform that is also pushing for an IPO.

According to the investment banking industry on Sept. 1, 09Women has filed for a preliminary review to the Korea Exchange for a Kosdaq listing. The company aims to get approval by end of the year and list at the beginning of next year, which would mark the first time a fashion shopping mall forewent a backdoor listing and went straight for an official listing.

In 2002, the company was set up with just 3 million won ($2,595) by Kim Joo-young, who was then 26. He had no fashion-related experience, but he was confident that a plus-size fashion platform for twenty- and thirtysomethings would be a huge hit.

Kim ventured into the plus-size fashion business after noticing that it was hard to find clothes above size medium for women in their 20s and 30s, whereas large and extra-large sizes were readily available for older women. 

CEO Kim began to visit wholesalers in Korea’s fashion mecca Dongdaemun to make plus-size apparel, but he was rejected multiple times due to concerns that there wouldn’t be enough demand to justify the high production costs.

The concerns didn't deter Kim, however, as he was sure that a market for plus-size fashion existed. In November 2006, he set up an official company and named it 09Women, stating that the company would cater to all sizes. Kim then launched a shopping mall and began his journey to sell plus-size fashion.

Initially, 09Women struggled and was on the brink of bankruptcy due to the financial crisis of 2008. But gradually, the company started logging strong growth as it spread via word of mouth that 09Women offered a wide range of sizes and designs, allowing larger women to shop for clothes without the usual disappointment of not finding choice in their sizes. 

In 2017, the company’s revenue surpassed 20 billion won ($17.3 million) and 09Women began to launch aggressive marketing campaigns after receiving funding from TS Investment in 2019.

Comedian Kim Min-kyung is a model for 09Women.
Comedian Kim Min-kyung is a model for 09Women.

KOREA'S TORRID?

The domestic securities industry is paying close attention to see if 09Women will achieve the same level of success as the US-based Torrid, which made a trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange in July with its IPO share price set at $21.

Torrid sells plus-size clothes, lingerie and accessories. In 2020, the company logged revenue of around $973.5 million, a remarkable achievement considering the heavy blow dealt to the global fashion industry by the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, its share price rose to $33, up by 57% compared to its listing price. Its valuation currently hovers around $2.5 billion.

Similarly, the global pandemic has aided 09Women’s strong growth rate, driving demand for plus-size apparel as people spent more time indoors and searched for comfortable clothes to wear at home. Further, body positivity and the corset-free movement. which reject unrealistic beauty standards, also pushed up 09Women's sales.

In 2020, 09Women company posted 32.7 billion won in revenue, up by 33% compared to the year-earlier period. Its operating profit stood at 5.4 billion won in 2002, double the amount from the previous year. The company expects to top 40 billion won in revenue this year.

Currently, 09Women has around 400,000 members with over 100,000 app downloads.

Write to Ye-jin Jun at ace@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

Comment 0

0/300