Seoul houses four world-class beauty product makers -- LG Household, Amore Pacific, Able C&C and Clio Cosmetics. The capital city also has cosmetics startups targeting the North American market and China. In 2018, South Korea's famous online beauty and fashion product shopping mall called "Stylenanda" was acquired by L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics company. Stylenanda's make-up brand 3CE is one of the most popular brands among Chinese tourists.
K-beauty color makeup including eye shadows and lipsticks is being sold all over the world. Despite a global lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, exports of South Korean cosmetics products hit a record of $9.2 billion in 2021 up 21.5 percent from a year ago. Data released by South Korea's trade ministry showed that cosmetics exports to the United States increased by 14.9 percent from a year ago. In 2020, the United States imported about $536 million worth of K-beauty products. Vietnam's K-beauty market stood at $273 million in 2020 up 17.6 percent on-year. However, Seoul said most beauty companies are small-sized and overseas beauty markets such as China's are rising as competitors.
Seoul said in a statement on April 5 that funds worth more than 100 billion won will be invested in small-and-medium-sized enterprises and startups in the fashion and beauty sector starting in 2023. Through government agencies, Seoul will nurture 50 influencers every year to promote K-beauty products and some 200 experts including brand managers. Seoul will also provide various advantages including tax benefits to Dongdaemun district, South Korea's fashion and tourism hub. Dongdaemun is the country's largest wholesale apparel market complex with about 30,000 shops visited by some 150,000 people every day. Although the district has many historic sites and old buildings, Seoul will ease construction regulations for fashion brand operators. A special development zone for the beauty and fashion convergence project will be established in Dongdaemun.
The number of unlisted unicorn companies in the beauty and fashion sector is projected to reach 12 by 2025 from the current number of 8. A unicorn refers to a company or a startup with a corporate value between 100 billion and 1 trillion won. The number of related jobs will be increased from about 60,000 in 2021 to some 100,000 in 2025.
"We will improve Seoul's beauty and fashion ecosystem and establish a virtuous cycle system with other fields by converting into tourism resources," Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon was quoted as saying.
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