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[Herald Interview] Song Zio says ‘reckless imagination’ behind brand’s growth

May 30, 2023 - 16:07 By Kim Da-sol

Songzio founder and Chairman Song Zio poses for a photo prior to an interview with The Korea Herald in his office in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, May 3. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

As a first-generation Korean fashion designer, Songzio founder and Chairman Song Zio still does sketches and designs patterns – work he has been doing already for 30 years.

Despite the pandemic that had kept people at home and led them to spend less on fashion, Songzio saw better-than-expected sales, recording 70 billion won ($53 million) in 2022.

Song said creativity is behind the brand’s growth.

“No matter what, a fashion brand should prioritize fashion design, although there are various things to consider as a company doing fashion business. But I can say that during the pandemic, Songzio focused on upgrading its design values rather than increasing commercial value,” Song told The Korea Herald at the company headquarters in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, on May 3.

According to Song, fashion designers should not approach the fashion business with numbers. Rather, it is the brand’s distinctive concept and style that give the brand its competitive edge.

“The fashion brands that were hard-hit during the pandemic were brands that failed to focus on either design or the price,” said Song.

To strategically target consumers with varying design tastes and price preferences, Songzio has additionally established different labels under itself: Songzio Homme, Ziosongzio and Zzero Songzio.

“Of course our avant-garde, classical, artwear collection clothes are the most stylish, but it is a very niche and smaller pie. So we wanted to cater to the different tastes of customers with subsidiary labels that are sporty and more like street fashion,” said Song.

Song said his instinctive sense as a fashion designer has made him think big and have "reckless imagination" when it comes to the business size.

“Because I’m very artistic and designer-centric, I’m not super knowledgeable about the business size and how to operate the company. All I’m focused on is making beautiful clothes in a more creative way. I’m not interested in looking into our competitors’ trends and market analysis but spend majority of my time pondering what kind of issues I should create as a designer,” he said.

Celebrating the brand’s 30th anniversary this fall, Song said his decades of experience and expertise in taking the lead in fashion trends is his priority as chief.

“Paris and Milan were the pioneers of menswear in the 1980s and 1990s but it is the Koreans who are leading high-end men's fashion these days. I’ve spent my whole time learning and leading the trend so I’m really glad to see how K-fashion has set its foot on the global stage,” said Song.