Korean fashion platform Musinsa bags $190M Series C led by KKR at a $2.7B valuation

Musinsa, a Seoul-based fashion marketplace, said Wednesday it has raised a $190 million round of Series C funding led by KKR, with participation from Wellington Management.

The new capital put Musinsa’s valuation at approximately $2.76 billion (~3.4 trillion won), according to sources familiar with the situation. The Korean fashion e-commerce startup declined to provide an exact valuation figure but confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s more than 3 trillion won. The post-money valuation increased from its previous $2 billion (2.5 trillion won) in 2021 when the startup picked up a $115 million Series B round from Sequoia Capital and IMM Investment. Its total raised since 2001 now stands at roughly $330 million (430 billion won).

With the Series C financing, Musinsa will continue to scale its online and offline business, expand into overseas markets, hire additional staff and make acquisitions in order to diversify its portfolios. Musinsa, once used to sell only menswear products, acquired women’s wear online shopping platforms 29CM and Styleshare for $265 million in 2021 to expand its client base and product categories. The company has 1,300 staff as of today.

When asked about its initial public offering plan, its IPO is in premature stages; the plan has not been materialized yet, a spokesperson at Musinsa told TechCrunch.

Along with its local competitors like Kakao’s fashion platform ZigzagKorean retail giant Shinsegae’s W Concept, and Brandi backed by Naver, Musinsa is one of the biggest and most popular fashion marketplaces, offering more than 8,000 local and foreign fashion brands spanning diverse categories, including casual, sports and luxury to 13 million users. The startup claims over $2.35 billion(3 trillion won) in annual gross merchandise value (GMV) as of 2022.

Back in 2018, Musinsa set up its venture capital arm, Musinsa Partners, which now has $47.4 million in assets under management, to back small and medium startups in the fashion industry. In addition, Musinsa invested $4.7 million (6 billion won) into Envisioning Partner’s climate fund as a limited partner. The company says it is part of its commitment to enhancing ESG capabilities, including climate change response.

Musinsa recorded $545 million (708.3 billion won) of sales in 2022, up 54% on year, more than three times its sales in 2019 before the pandemic. But its operating profits plunged to $2.5 million in 2022 due to excessive investments for international expansions and the loss of its sneaker reselling unit SLDTper media reports.

The company launched international websites that offer Korean fashion brands in English, Japanese, and Chinese last year. The website is available in 13 countries: Japan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.

“Musinsa has developed itself as a top consumer internet platform in Korea as a differentiated marketplace by its ability to scale rising brands, enable the creator economy for fashion, engage and provide a high-quality e-commerce experience for customers,” Mukul Chawla, partner and head of growth equity, Asia for KKR, said in a statement. “We see enormous opportunity for Musinsa to build on its leading position in a fast-growing K-fashion (Korea’s fashion) market that continues to shift online and expand globally on the back of K-culture’s explosive reach.”

The latest funding marks KKR’s first technology growth investment in South Korea in line with its next-generation technology (NGT) strategy, which supports Asia-based innovative companies in software, consumer technology and fintech. Other investments from the private equity firm’s strategy include Lenskart, an India-based omnichannel eyewear retailer; Advanced Navigation, an Australian AI-based robotics technology developer; Privy, an Indonesian digital identity provider; GrowSari, the Philippines-based B2B e-commerce platform for small and medium enterprises; and NetStars, a Japanese QR code payment gateway operator.

This article has been updated with information from Musinsa.