EXO’s main vocalist Byun Baekhyun is the K-Pop group’s first member to dabble into the commercial side of the fashion industry with the debut of his brand Privé NY on July 6th, 2018. Marketed as a casual wear line with a price range accessible to the average fan, Privé combines Baekhyun’s own simplistic style with comfortable gear for both men and women. And he didn’t have to leave SM Entertainment or EXO to do it. Yahoo!
Before I begin my review, I feel that I need to be transparent in admitting that Baekhyun is not only my bias in EXO, but my ultimate bias in all of K-Pop. My best boy, if you will. Needless to say, I was a little more than excited to learn that he would be starting his own clothing brand at a relatively affordable cost and had my wallet ready on the initial launch date to spend too much money on a simple printed sweatshirt. Privé faced a number of logistical hiccups along the way to launching however, and I was left with some unexpectedly mixed opinions as a result.
The brand is marketed as a unisex streetwear line of clothing. Baekhyun himself has claimed to be very involved in the actual designs of the six pieces initially released, and it’s something I’d believe given how closely they mimic his own clean, simplistic style. Despite Baekhyun’s regrettable infatuation with Supreme, the only real evidence of this preference in his line of clothing are the crisp, rectangular lines that dominate Privé’s minimalist designs. The only piece of clothing I really found to be marketed directly for fans was the T-shirt design printed with his face, but even that was done tastefully. Or maybe I just enjoy seeing Baekhyun’s face on my shirt. Especially when I can pass it off as a fashion piece, and not just shameless idol merch.
Privé’s launch day was, quite frankly, a mess. The release date had been marketed as 12 a.m. EST on July 6th for months prior. When I visited the website at 11 p.m. EST on July 5th, roughly an hour before the brand was set to launch, it was already down due to high traffic. Predictably, when the actual release time rolled around soon after, the site was still inaccessible and remained so for the next few hours. I wasn’t awake when the first batch of orders went through, but it seems that a small number of buyers were able to make their purchase before the site was taken offline in order to manage the sheer amount of customer traffic. It didn’t end up coming back online until nearly a day later on July 7th. All in all, not the expected July 6th release date.
I do think Privé could have handled this situation better, and while they did post periodic updates on their Twitter throughout the fiasco, after the initial launch nobody really knew when the site was coming back online. Large groups of fans stayed awake late into the night, for fear of falling asleep when they website came back online and missing the chance to purchase something before it sold out. I went about my daily life (only somewhat obsessively checking Privé’s Twitter in my waking hours to make sure I didn’t miss any updates) but can see why fans would be frustrated. So if I could have made one recommendation to Privé as this all went down, it would have been to keep a better timeline of when the site was coming back, rather than the following vague tweet:
For clarification, we will re-open today! Thank you so much for the patience!
— Privé (@privenyofficial) July 6, 2018
Or, you know, expect that launching a brand in collaboration with an idol with millions of followers is going to come with some high traffic on your site and invest in a better server preemptively to counteract this.
While marketed as a unisex brand, Privé actually sells the same articles of clothing, with a slightly different cut, in both men’s and women’s sizes. This is something I took full advantage of because when a certain article of clothing was sold out in my size in women’s, I could try to find an equivalent size in men’s to buy it.
I didn’t quite know what to expect with how small or large the actual articles of clothing ran, considering Asian fashion is typically sized much smaller when compared to its Western counterpart. Privé however, while headlined by an Asian pop star, is technically based out of New York which made me guess that the brand would be a little more liberal with their sizing than if it had been headquartered in South Korea. And it most definitely was. As someone who toes the line between small and medium sizes in Western clothing, I found the medium women’s hoodie I ordered to be oversized and the men’s small sweatshirt comically big on me. So as a general warning when ordering: pick your usual size, or even size down for a more flattering fit.
Shipping and Handling
There’s a certain amount of drama being associated with Privé’s shipping costs – namely, how outrageously expensive they are. After the initial batch of orders went through before the site closed, Privé issued a statement claiming the company was going to reimburse customers who had incorrectly been charged. However, upon re-opening the site over 24 hours later, the shipping prices were just as high, if not higher. The explanation provided by the company was to ensure proper tracking, but that’s hard to justify when other companies can provide equally as secure shipping at much lower costs on orders of similar sizes.
— Privé (@privenyofficial) July 8, 2018
As a reference, for my order of three items being shipped to West Texas I paid $21 via Expedited Parcel USA – the cheapest option available. The estimated arrival date was between 4–7 days.
Privé has since stated that they will offer a significantly cheaper surface shipping option with a longer duration of 1-2 months and no ability to track the order in transit. It seems like an uneasy compromise to me, and I still don’t understand why the rates have to be so high, especially when compared with other international retailers. But I suppose this is at least a temporary solution to $70 shipping charges for $35 dollar T-shirt.
As far as timelines go for the actual Expedited Parcel USA shipping process: I submitted my order on July 7th, and received an invoice in my email shortly after. However, I didn’t get confirmation that my order actually shipped until July 19th – a full twelve days later. Privé made the claim that their processing timeline between order date and shipping date would be 1-3 business days, with the first week of orders being slightly delayed due to the initial launch mayhem. Taking nearly two weeks to ship an item is more than a slight delay though, and I hope the brand is able to streamline this process in the near future. Privé either didn’t anticipate the sheer number of launch day orders, or are severely understaffed right now. And I’ll admit I was worried by the time needed to just get my items out of the warehouse. I won’t lie – I was tempted at one point during this whole process to title this article: “The Tragic Tale of How I was Scammed by my Ultimate Bias.”
I do find it rather bizarre that my order was sent out of the country to Canada to then be shipped back into the USA through the shipping provider, Canada Post. This explains why the timeline is so prolonged, but confuses me as to how Privé could ever deliver on their 1-3 day shipping promise. And as a disclaimer, I didn’t actually get any tracking information on my order from Canada Post until July 20th. Then, my order was finally delivered on July 27th, exactly 20 days after the order was submitted and following a week of total radio silence from the shipping provider themselves.
I’m no stranger to waiting a long time for a package to reach me; I order K-Pop albums from China for heaven’s sake. But if a brand is going to charge such exorbitant prices for shipping – especially when my package was a domestic order – and promise a speedy delivery, I’m going to be a little disgruntled. At least YesAsia can deliver on some free shipping. And tracking information that actually tracks the transit of your package. What a wild concept.
I purchased three items from Privé in my order: the black “Fearless” ruler hoodie ($90), the classic white “Privé” pullover ($75), and a yellow “Selca Tee Shirt” ($35). With these three items in my basket, the total cost of my purchase came to an even 200 USD. Can I justify spending this much on some cotton casual wear? Well, I wanted to try an article of clothing from each style offered by Privé (hoodie, pullover, and tee), both for the comprehensiveness of this review and because I am a shameless Baekhyun stan. I do think the price is a bit steep for what the brand is marketed as – accessible to the fans. And this situation only looks less flattering to the brand when the shipping costs are factored in.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the packaging, though not to the point that makes me forgive the time it took to arrive. The box that the clothing came in had “Privé” printed across the front, leaving no uncertainty for what just arrived on your doorstep. Each article of clothing itself comes in a bag with a zip seal that also features the “Privé” print. Sprinkled amongst the clothing items themselves were large black-and-white stickers with the brand’s name as well, which was a cute little bonus. However, this still doesn’t justify the shipping costs.
I’ll start by discussing my least favorite item of my order, through no fault other than its basic-ness. The simple white pullover with “Privé” printed across the front is something I’d wear when I want some clean and simple casual wear. It’s a piece that almost begs people to ask “What’s Privé?” – thus giving you the opportunity to plug the brand at any chance possible. Ultimately, given that I bought this in a men’s small with it being sold out in women’s, I do feel like I’m swimming in the fabric. The construction is great however, but I’ll address the clothing’s quality a little later. This is definitely a nice piece, and I can see it being jazzed up in a number of different ways by being paired with a ripped denim skirt or interesting accessories. I just would recommend opting for ordering this article of clothing in your respective gender, unless you’re going for a major oversized look.
Moving onto the next piece I purchased is the “Selca Tee” in yellow. It’s a short-sleeved T-shirt with a black and white photo of Baekhyun on it, and I can assure you that’s not nearly as cheesy as it sounds. While this is definitely a shirt for the fans, and was practically marketed as such, I can see anyone rocking this. There’s really nothing overstated about it, except for the color itself. Much to my surprise, this shirt is actually cut for a women’s figure and lacks the typical boxy structure of most generic unisex T-shirts. The short sleeves are just a little longer, the shirt slims at the waist, so it’s ultimately a much nicer fit than I expected. The shirt is sold in a number of different colors ranging from red, white, and the bright yellow that I went for. This piece is something I ended up loving a lot more than I had anticipated, and only wish I had ordered a size smaller given that the fitted nature of the shirt doesn’t look as nice when oversized.
And finally, we move onto my favorite article of clothing of the bunch – the Fearless “Measure Hood.” This hoodie features a measuring tape printed across the front of a black background with the words “Fearless” printed beneath it. Of all the pieces I ordered, this is the one I get the most questions on when I wear it, and the most compliments. It’s casual and subtle, but the design is distinctive enough to still be interesting. The cut isn’t nearly as boxy as a typical hoodie as well, but not fitted like some women’s sweatshirts.
I am a bit (okay, very) disappointed that I wasn’t able to snag the Fearless “Barcode Hood” before they sold out, either in men’s or women’s. But the “Measure Hood” is a close second place. Still, as much as I gripe about exorbitant shipping costs and delayed delivery, a part of me is still considering making another order now that the Barcode hoodie is back in stock. Call me a sucker.
I was a bit leery of the prices attached to what seemed to be simple cotton sweatshirts and tees being sold by Privé. But much to my delight, the fabric used for this streetwear feels like noticeably higher quality than your average Fruit of the Loom hoodie. It’s a thicker make of fabric, and labeled with Privé’s own tags rather than a separate manufacturer’s. All of the pieces I purchased were made of 100% cotton and machine-washable, if that is a concern of convenience. However, I will note that these items of clothing were made in China. Make of that what you will.
The Future of the Brand
Privé recently announced their brand will be coming to specific retailers to be sold in stores. I’m not sure if this decision came after the success(?) of the initial launch or this was a plan that’s been in the works for a while, but it’s a big step for such a young brand. I can bet said stores will probably be found in places like L.A. or New York, but you take what you can get I suppose. My biggest hope for Privé is that they get a handle on their shipping costs, as that is something I can see crippling a brand that needs longevity on a commercial level. Deluded fans such as myself may be willing to pay these costs but I can bet the average consumer with no knowledge of Baekhyun’s celebrity status won’t.
— Privé (@privenyofficial) August 21, 2018
The brand is planning to drop new items this September, so I’d like to see if any improvements have been made to the order process in the months between the initial launch. In any case, you know I’ll be checking them out as well. Perhaps with a second review to follow.
Privé is ultimately a brand I can see going far with a little cleanup on their logistics, and some cheaper shipping options. And I don’t think it’s the raving Baekhyun stan inside of me saying that. With an idol at the helm of the brand as a creative director and pieces that have a casual, comfortable appeal to both men and women, I think this company can carve out a niche for themselves. I can safely say I wouldn’t have ordered more than one piece from the collection had Baekhyun not been behind it, and I don’t really think the pieces themselves are distinctive enough for nonfans to truly find value in owning all of them, but it’s a solid start.