Gentle Monster is a South Korean eyewear brand which launched in 2011 by the company IICOMBINED. Gentle Monster immediately achieved popularity in the market after its debut based on its two distinctive characteristics: (1) its unique assortment of fashion sunglasses and, more critically, (2) its eye-catching store design. This brand offers two product lines of glasses and sunglasses at premium prices ($200–$500). Its products are highly unique in terms of their design and highly limited variety. The Gentle Monster sunglasses are famous for their prominent designs of oversized frames and low-bridge fit. The brand introduces seasonal collections similar to a haute couture fashion house, and each collection comprises fifty to sixty sunglasses and twenty glasses on average. The Gentle Monster store is designed on the basis of a theme and utilizes artistic objects and sculptures to transform this selling place into a performance space. The parent company IICOMBINED asserts itself as a retailer and aims to communicate a strong store brand identity to its customers. IICOMBINED continues to experiment using creative ideas for spaces within its stores. This innovative visual merchandising, store branding, and product strategy enabled Gentle Monster to achieve astonishing success in the market. The company’s total sales in 2016 reached $145 million, nearly a triple increase from the previous year, with an operational profit of 32.7 percent (Lee, 2018).
Gentle Monster has a total of thirty-five domestic stores, including seven flagship stores and twenty-five concessions in department stores in major cities, such as Seoul, Busan, and Daegu (Gentle Monster, 2018). Since 2015, Gentle Monster has expanded its distribution network by opening stores in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States. The brand opened stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou in China. Entry to the Chinese market turned out to be successful as the revenue earned from its Beijing boutique reached over 100 million RMB in only a year. L.Catterton Asia, a China-based LVMH family company decided to invest $53 million into the brand for the promising business in China (Sim, 2018). In the United States, the Soho store was opened in 2016 and the Los Angeles store in 2017. Gentle Monster is actively seeking celebrity marketing and collaboration. Recent projects with Alexander Wang, Dutch brand Moooi, and Tilda Swinton exposed the brand to the trend-seeking consumers in the United States. Gentle Monster plans to open a store on Regent Street in London (UK) in 2018, known for the presence of numerous luxury fashion brands. As such, Gentle Monster is constantly striving to expand its global business.
In late 2017 Gentle Monster launched a cosmetic brand called, “Tamburins,” and opened another impressive flagship store for this brand. This spectacular two-story building displays and sells only one kind of cosmetics: hand cream. Tamburins’ hand cream is made of organic ingredients and natural oils for enhanced moisturization with a signature scent. The company plans to introduce new products slowly.