Ever get the feeling you don’t have anything to wear? We caught up with two style and tech savvy entrepreneurs who are on a mission to spice up the Singaporean shopping scene
Ever caught yourself staring into your wardrobe at hundreds of dresses, skirts, and shirts, only to reach the conclusion there is categorically nothing you could possibly wear? Us too! So many clothes, never any options. So much money wasted on throwaway trends and cheap dupes to be worn once then resigned to the back of the closet, never again to see the light of day. It’s a vicious circle with seemingly no solution, that is until now.
We recently caught up with Chris Halim and Raena Lim who have taken their love of fashion and technology and created one of the most exciting new business concepts we’ve seen in Singapore. Say hello to StyleTheory, a subscription-based fashion app you need to know about! Read on to find out how StyleTheory is set to take Singapore by storm, glean some entrepreneurial advice, and find out how local suppliers are helping them shape their business.
Hi Raena and Chris! Can you introduce the concept of StyleTheory to our readers?
StyleTheory is a subscription-based fashion website and app. Women subscribed to StyleTheory will pay a monthly subscription fee to get access to our wardrobe of over thousands of designer items from all over the world. We stock everything from workwear to party dresses, and women can choose any items they want, wear them, and return them to get something new to wear again. It is literally an extension of a woman’s wardrobe, stored in the cloud.
Sounds great to us! Where did the inspiration for StyleTheory originally come from?
The idea for this business actually came from personal frustration. Like most women, I had three wardrobes full of clothes, yet I still couldn’t find anything to wear. I used to work in finance, so by nature, I’m a rational person. But when it came to fashion, my brain was highly illogical. I also wanted to create something that would have a direct impact upon people’s lives. We created StyleTheory in a bid to solve the age-old problem of women always feeling stuck in the perpetual search for something to wear, while also saving them a huge amount of time, frustration, and money when it comes to shopping habits. StyleTheory’s mission is straightforward: to build a wardrobe so infinite that women will always have something to wear.
Tell us about some of the brands that StyleTheory currently stocks?
We currently work with over 50 designers (think Alice McCall, Aijek, Keepsake, Elie Tahari, to name but a few) to showcase their work and our aim is to introduce new brands and different fashion styles to Singapore. These designers come from more than 10 different countries and represent very different ideals and cultures in their designs. We created StyleTheory to be a platform for designers to tell their story to people who otherwise have no time to go to malls and browse.
My personal favourite at the moment is a brand called Fabitoria, it’s hugely popular in Taiwan but is relatively unknown in Singapore. I love how they integrate loud prints and colours into their collection while still keeping the overall look elegantly chic.
Where do we sign up?!
We soft launched in April 2016 to 150 people and we were fully subscribed within one month. We will be doing our second launch for 150 spots in less than two weeks! The initial response has been humbling, and also encouraging – we now have more than 2000 people on our waitlist! You can sign up via our website and when new slots become available, we work our way through the waitlist.
As fully fledged entrepreneurs, can you tell us how you found setting up a new business?
We’re lucky in that Singapore is a great place to start a business, it’s really not that hard. The biggest challenge for us is getting the market and our customers to understand our concept. While the idea of renting has been around for ages, the evolution to a sharing economy concept is still extremely new in Asia. Every day we are working to shift people’s attitudes and shopping habits and we are confident that people will understand, see the benefits, and catch on fast.
What advice would you give to other budding entrepreneurs in Singapore?
We have just begun our startup journey so giving advice seems strange! But if there is one thing we have learnt it is to stay focused on what we are really trying to create. There have been so many temptations and opportunities that could easily have distracted us, but we have always tried to remain 100% focussed on our goals.
What has been the most exciting moment in your business journey so far?
Just seeing our idea come to fruition and hearing positive feedback from customers is amazing. The fact women are taking time out of their busy schedules to let us know the impact StyleTheory is having on their lives completely validates why we do this.
Many of our customers no longer have that awful guilty post-shopping feeling. They are being smarter about their purchases and don’t need to spend as much money each month on throwaway trends. We’ve even been told StyleTheory is husband approved!
Have you come across any handy suppliers that other startups might find useful?
We have some great partnerships with local businesses, one of which is Zyllem. Initially we started using them as our specialised, customised logistic provider for deliveries to our dry cleaner. It’s a highly important part of our business as we need all of our clothes to be dry cleaned and returned to us as quickly and efficiently as possible. Zyllem helped us set up special processes to ensure our needs are met, and we are now looking into using them across other areas of our business too. For example we’ll soon be using them to make deliveries to our customers as well.
What has been the biggest benefit of using Zyllem to the business?
The customisation element, definitely. Our business concept and the way we need things done is new in Singapore, so the logistical needs we require are completely new to the market. We needed experts who could work with us and help us develop the logistical side to our business (which we previously knew nothing about!). Zyllem are very advanced in terms of technology and were able to help us integrate this logistical element within our app. The delivery of clothes to our customers is obviously very important, and we trust Zyllem to be that touchpoint with our clients.
Have you used Zyllem for anything other than business?
Not yet, but we are planning to use them when we move into our new offices! They are really flexible and can do so many different courier and logistics related tasks. We’re at the point now where we totally trust them.
What does the future hold for StyleTheory?
Our ultimate goal is to be the infinite wardrobe for women. We currently stock thousands of items, but we are working to expand this collection to include accessories, jewellery, and handbags. At the moment we only stock clothes, but in the future we will have the ultimate wardrobe selection!
Add yourself to the StyleTheory wait list by signing up here!
This article is sponsored by Zyllem