Ways Korea’s eyewear brand survives
If its sunglasses were just displayed over the show window, why would so many people around the world go crazy for Gentle Monster? Just like how people wait for the opening date of an exhibition, they wait for the opening of this local eyewear brand’s flagship store and collaboration with other famous brands. Such unique image makes everyone curious about Gentle Monster.
In December last year, an interesting department store opened right in the middle of Beijing, China. Right when you get through the entrance of the first floor, a number of robotic sheep welcome the guests. This surrealist department store is SKP-S, Beijing’s luxury department store. From 1-3 floors of the department store, which equals a total area of 9,900 meters square, the space is filled with objets from the future. Who could possibly create all these futuristic mood here? Perhaps, Gentle Monster is the one and only name that comes through our head. And it was in charge of art directing the space at SKP-S. Gentle Monster is Korea’s eyewear brand, established in 2011. It seemed like a brand that specifically makes frames and sunglasses but in 2013, it introduced the first flagship store at Nonhyeon-dong in southern Seoul.

젠틀몬스터가 아트 디렉팅한 백화점 SKP-S 내부

Inside the department store SKP-S, in collaboration with Gentle Monster for art directing

Although it was only established in 2011, Gentle Monster didn’t waste much time in making sure people remember the brand name. It first made headlines in 2014 when an actress wore unique-styled sunglasses on drama. Along with the uniqueness in style, Gentle Monster’s products have good quality as well as the artistic value and design. It was quite an upset when it comes to the brand’s flagship store. Across the nation from Seoul to Busan, Gentle Monster’s brand showroom has been transformed into a wizardly artistic place. Such was done as Gentle Monster was well aware of the fact that the flagship store is a place to experience the brand and to share the value of the brand beyond sales.


젠틀몬스터가 아트 디렉팅한 백화점 SKP-S 내부

Inside the department store SKP-S, in collaboration with Gentle Monster for art directing

At its flagship store in Hongdae, it has conducted “Quantum Project” to change the store’s theme on the 25th of every month. Over at its flagship store in Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, Gentle Monster has kept the originality of a 50-year-old circular bathhouse. In Sinsa-dong, Garosu-gil, it has exhibited “BAT Project,” which reinterpreted our daily lives. In all of these spaces created under different theme, the brand, Gentle Monster, is the only thing that didn’t change and due to this, it’s hard not to pay attention to it. It’s a store filled with attractions without having sunglasses displayed at the front. Such space design is created by the Gentle Monster’s employees and the space they’ve created has become Gentle Monster’s color.
젠틀몬스터와 펜디의 협업 컬렉션 ‘젠틀 펜디’의 캠페인 이미지

Promotional campaign for ‘Gentle Fendi,’ a collaborative collection between Gentle Monster and Fendi

젠틀몬스터와 송민호가 함께한 아트 콜라보레이션 프로젝트 ‘버닝 플래닛’ 현장

‘Burning Planet,’ an art project by Gentle Monster in collaboration with Song Mino

젠틀몬스터와 앰부시의 협업 컬렉션 팝업 이벤트 현장

A collaborative pop-up event for Gentle Monster and Ambush

Another characteristic of Gentle Monster is its collaboration with world’s famous brands, artists and celebrities. It has collaborated with Italian brand Fendi, jewelry brand Ambush and many more. Gentle Monster has gone beyond trend and art to make sure its name is known around the world as it also collaborated with actress Tilda Swinton, rapper Song Mino with an exhibition called “Burning Planet.”
Currently, Gentle Monster has 20 flagship stores around the world - New York and L.A. in the United States; London in England; Dubai; Shanghai and Beijing in China. But including its stores located in Korea’s department stores and duty free, the number goes up to about 50. All the stores around the world are under direct management and this policy allows each and one of the Gentle Monster’s flagship stores to exhibit its products under different concepts. Under the motto of new and innovation, there’s no such thing as limit to Gentle Monster’s imagination.
농장 속 카페를 콘셉트로, 신사동 가로수길의 2층 건물을 옥수수밭으로 만든 ‘BAT’ 프로젝트

‘BAT’ Project, turning a two-story building on Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong into a corn field

젠틀몬스터의 2019 컬렉션 캠페인 ‘13’

’13,’ a 2019 collection campaign by Gentle Monster

Interview with Gentle Monster
Gentle Monster displays its creativity through products, space, digital contents and marketing. Of the Gentle Monster’s “Monsters,” we met with Ku Jiny, who is in charge of brand planning and marketing of the Korea’s headquarter and the Great China region.
Q. Going back to the start of Gentle Monster, we are curious as to why you proceeded the Quantum Project. Despite being an eyewear brand, you’ve created a flagship store filled with artistic sculptures and changes the space completely on the 25th of every month. What kind of message or value were you trying to deliver?
A. The core value of Gentle Monster is that we “continuously challenge ourselves for something new.” Regardless of which department you’re in, everyone in the company considers that as company’s core value and thinks and acts accordingly to it. We kept on trying to show something “new” in terms of our eyewear products, the space where the products will be displayed, the image or digital contents to show the products and various marketing strategies using the products. Through that project, we proceeded with our own unique space of flagship store and Quantum Project and right now, at this moment, we’re trying to create something new of Gentle Monster.
서울 신사 플래그십 스토어

Flagship store in Seoul’s Sinsa-dong

부산 플래그십 스토어

Flagship store in Busan

대구 플래그십 스토어

Flagship store in Daegu

Q. What is the planning process for Gentle Monster’s flagship store and project? We’re curious as to where and how the ideas begin.
A. Each space at the flagship store has different themes where it can represent the brand’s identity at its best. The project of each space starts with continuous discussions between managers of branding departments and slowly narrows the topics down. We release our new eyewear collection in the beginning of each year and the theme of the space is selected based on the theme of the collection. At times, the theme comes beyond the collection. From products to space, image, videos and to marketing, we’re trying to demonstrate Gentle Monster’s view of the world. We casually talk with employees who just joined our company about our brand’s directions.


25일을 주기로 플래그십 스토어의 콘셉트가 바뀌었던 ‘퀸텀 프로젝트’

‘Quantum Project,’ which changes flagship store’s concepts on the 25th of every month.

Q. Of many projects, which is the most memorable?
A. I would say Quantum Project is the most memorable project because it kept on showing new things. The Gentle Monster Flagship store in Hongdae, which opened in April 2014, doesn’t have any eyewear products on the first floor. And that space transformed in different ways on the 25th of every month. The people who walked passed the flagship store were curious about what kind of space it was. Since then, a lot of the people started to think that “Gentle Monster is unique,” or “Gentle Monster has its own special philosophy.” Through over 30 Quantuam projects over 30 months, Gentle Monster’s flagship store in Hongdae didn’t just catch the eyes of people walking around Hongdae. Now it became one of the hot places in Seoul. 

Q. Recently, Gentle Monster did its own space directing at the department store in China. How did that project start?
A. That project started about a year and a half ago, when the department store made the suggestion to us. Gentle Monster was in charge of directing the department store’s SKP-S’ first floor entrance to the space inside, the art space, the pop-up store and just overall directing. The employees of both companies worked hard by discussing the future of the mall and to get to the final idea. We thought about what the “future of retail” will be like and what kind of new experience the customers will feel in the space. As a result, the mall came up with a new concept where the customers can see a farm of robots in the entrance of the mall.

젠틀몬스터가 아트 디렉팅한 백화점 SKP-S 내부

Inside the department store SKP-S, in collaboration with Gentle Monster for art directing

Q. From directing the store at the department stores to your newly launched dessert brand NUDAKE, it seems like Gentle Monster has gone beyond just eyewear brand. How would you define your brand?
A. The eyewear brand Gentle Monster is a part of “IICOMBINED.” It is a combination of two words - imagination and interpretation - where the company has people who continuously challenge themselves for new ideas. And within that, NUDAKE, a new fantasy for desserts, has been established and it was able to direct our own space at the department store. We are trying to make a brand even the members of Gentle Monster can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future. Continuously thinking of new ideas allows us to enjoy and that gets to our customers as unexpected surprise. As those expectations stack up, I think that’s what makes our customers set expectations on us. A brand where we also set expectations on our future, that is what we want as well. 

Q. So does that mean you can’t predict what the Gentle Monster will demonstrate or offer to the customers in the future?
A. Yes. A year or two from now, nobody knows what we’ll be doing. But one thing I know for sure is that they’ll be able to see our new and creative ideas coming true, making it happen.
April 2020 Editor:Kim Hyewon
Cooperation: Gentle Monster

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