|Shoppers walk into Shinsegae Department store in Seoul, in May 2021. Korea Times file|
By Lee Kyung-min
Luxury fashion and cosmetics brands are raising product prices in Korea ahead of the summer spending spree, despite a series of hikes over the past few years.
Morgan Stanley, a global research firm, said purchases of luxury goods made by Koreans came to $16.8 billion (22 trillion won), last year, up 24 percent from the previous year. Per-capita purchases stood at $325, topping the list of countries surveyed, beating the U.S. and China.
Market watchers say behind the steady price increase is what Koreans call "flex splurging," whereby consumers buy expensive, newer products driven by the desire to be differentiated and stand out.
Sisley, a French cosmetics brand, said May 30 that its product prices will be raised by an average of 5 percent from June 1.
L'Oreal Group, a global cosmetics firm, has also raised prices of products made by Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent and Biotherm by as much as 10 percent at duty-free shops since Thursday.
French fashion brand Chanel raised its price for the second time this year on May 23, less than three months after it raised prices of popular products by six percent.
The brand raised prices three times in 2020 and four times each in 2021 and 2022.
The price of the Chanel Classic Flap Bag, one of its best sellers, was 13.16 million won in January, but the increase pushed the price up to 14.5 million won. The brand's Classic Flap Bag Large is sold for 15.7 million won.
Louis Vuitton also joined the price hikes. It raised prices twice in February and October of last year, after raising the prices of its products sold in the Korean market as many as five times in 2021.
Louis Vuitton raised its Alma PM to 2.66 million won as of June 1, up 6.4 percent from 2.5 million won.
The brand's Clooney BB handbag rose to 3.22 million won, up 4.9 percent from 3.07 million won. Madeleine BB's price inched up to 3.71 million won, up 2.2 percent from 3.63 million won.
In the case of Capucines MM which made headlines as actress Kim Hee-ae's bag, the price increased to 10.55 million won, up 7.2 percent from 9.84 million won.
Petite Malle's price rose to 7.74 million won, up from 7.25 million won.
Louis Vuitton is likely to raise its product prices in the latter half, since it recently did in Japan and France.
Italian fashion brand Bottega Veneta is also expected to raise the price of some products as much as 10 percent.