The history of Asian fashion is rich and diverse. Even today, traditional clothing is still being worn regularly for religious or festive purposes, alongside the modern style of clothing. Asia is home to some of the new fashion capitals in the world. It is a hotbed for fashion startups. From innovating the way clothes are produced and sold, to being home to some of the greatest fashion designers in the world, Asian fashion is thriving. A forward-looking industry showing no signs of slowing down, Top 10 of Asia takes a look at its list of 10 Asian Fashion Startups (presented in random order) making waves in the fashion scene.
Althea is a leader in Southeast Asia’s digital beauty market, teaching and inspiring gen Z customers to play in a world of K-beauty. It was founded in 2015 by Frank Kang. Althea has earned its reputation as a digital beauty trailblazer with its expertise, innovation, and startup spirit. They have their own app where users get to access their entire store with an on-the-go, anytime shopping experience. Through their blog Althealand, they also seek to give their favourite fans the lowdown on all things K-Beauty.
Co-founded by Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor in 2015, Zilingo is a beauty and lifestyle marketplace with its headquarters in Singapore. It allows smaller merchants from Southeast Asia without an online presence to list their items for sale direct to consumers. Its businesses include B2C & B2B Marketplace, Private Label as a Service, E-POS & Inventory Management Service, Trend Forecasting and Fintech Services. Each business complements the other, creating compounding services and benefits for the platform as a whole. It has revolutionised the fashion and beauty supply chain to become more efficient through technology and has raised more than $300 million worth of funds. It is one of Southeast Asia’s highest-capitalized startups.
BlinQ, a Malaysian Augmented Reality (AR) startup has just raised US $2million in funding to tap into the growing luxury e-commerce market. The startup was founded by Bob Chua. BlinQ uses augmented reality to let people “try on” e-commerce fashion products using their phones, and subsequently purchase them from the online store. Aside from buying the products directly from the app, users can also rent, subscribe, or pay later for them. From a B2B perspective, BlinQ aims to white-label the technology to larger retailers and e-commerce platforms, allowing their customers to virtually try on apparel and accessories, as well as to ride on its platform and automated logistics infrastructure regionally to handle storage, returns, sortation and replenishment.
Goxip’s inception came from Juliette Gimenez in 2016. Based in Hong Kong, it is a destination for searching, discovering and purchasing any fashion and beauty products. It won the Breakthrough HK competition for unfunded Hong Kong start-ups at the Rise Conference. Partnering with over 500 international online retailers, Goxip’s database covers more than 36,000 luxury brands and 5 million items. Users can use its search engine to search with text, categories or even images to find ideal items. Goxip also leverages on key opinion leaders to generate influence and appeal.
Style Theory is SEA’s Largest Fashion Rental Subscription Platform with 30,000 designer outfits, free laundry and delivery and an in-app fit algorithm and personal styling. It was co-founded by Christopher Halim and Raena Lim in 2016. Singapore Style Theory brings a unique “Netflix-For-Fashion” model where through a monthly subscription, users are able to rent from a virtually unlimited designer clothing catalogue that is updated regularly. It brings authentic luxury with a budget to the masses.
Cloth Inc is a ready-to-wear fashion brand born with the idea to create the ideal clothes for real life; to create modern, effortless and comfortable design from everyday wear to special occasion wear. It also believes fashion is for everyone and it drives them to create affordable and quality fashion for everyone. It was all started in 2012 by its founder, Julian Tanoto. Cloth Inc designs and manufactures its products in its own production workshop in Indonesia and deliver its products directly to the consumers, who are mostly young women of ages between 18 and 35. Started as a small online business, Cloth Inc. now ships products worldwide through its website www.cloth-inc.com, and it also has its own physical store located at a prominent shopping mall in West Jakarta.
Pomelo Fashion was launched in 2013 by former Managing Director of Lazada Thailand, David Jou. He and his friends decided to establish Pomelo in Bangkok in 2014 when he saw the potential for omni-channel fashion style for women in the country. It is currently a leading international fashion eCommerce company based in Bangkok. It has a team that carefully curates and designs the clothing offered on the website. The company delivers all over the world and has some 2 million customers in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, the US and even in Europe. It recently opened its first overseas store in Singapore.
Sorabel is a leading e-commerce startup in Indonesia’s fashion industry. It focuses on the principles of cost-leadership and social media strength. Co-founded by Lingga Madu in 2014, its selling point is quality women’s clothing at an affordable price. By cutting out the middleman, reducing overheads and focusing on online sales, cost savings are passed on to customers. Sorabel uses artificial intelligence (AI) that reads and predicts trends from consumers and is able to read each individual’s preferences. It is one of the fastest growing among tech startups in Indonesia.
Based in China, StyleWe was founded by Yang Xingjian in 2015. In 2016, it raised $15 million in Series A funding. It is an important platform from which individual designers get to showcase their designs with prototypes. StyleWe publishes the products on its online store and orders can be made. Once an order goes through, the production is handled by StyleWe. This gives designers the chance to showcase their work without having to overcome the barrier of having production resources. For those who have the resources, they have the option to fulfil orders themselves.
UP is the brainchild of Diana Rikasari, a renowned fashion blogger from Indonesia. From a shoe brand that expanded into a lifestyle brand, UP caters to the young and crazy-for-colours crowd with its cheerful designs, offering products ranging from shoes, clothes to accessories. All UP products are handmade in its home-based workshop in Indonesia. The business has also incorporated a donation programme – the Level UP! Scholarship Programme – which supports low-income children in need of basic education. Since its launch in early 2011, UP has grown significantly with more than 244,000 active Instagram followers, evolving into a community of fun fashion lovers.