Singapore couple redress Southeast Asian fashion rentals

When husband and spouse Chris Halim and Raena Lim saw an opportunity to redress sustainability problems in the fashion business, they wanted to do so in design.  

And the duo powering clothes rental app Fashion Concept certainly never do factors by halves. 

“We did set in like $40,000,” the few, who stop their work to take their start-up complete time, advised CNBC Make It.

“Actually, we don’t know irrespective of whether we are foolish or courageous.”

Obtaining the suitable healthy

Lim and Halim are the co-founders of Design and style Concept, a Singaporean manner rental system that allows subscribers to bank loan endless objects for a flat regular monthly fee.

The SoftBank-backed start-up currently boasts much more than 200,000 registered users across Singapore and Indonesia and offers an inventory of 50,000 dresses and additional than 2,000 baggage. 

But when ex-Goldman Sachs banker Lim and advisor partner Halim bought the notion for the enterprise back in 2016, it was in reaction to a pretty widespread conundrum — getting absolutely nothing to use.  

Raena Lim and Chris Halim, the husband-and-wife duo behind Singaporean garments rental system Design and style Idea.

Model Theory

“The ‘aha’ second arrived when Chris actually questioned me and he’s like ‘why is it you have so numerous outfits and you happen to be constantly complaining that you have absolutely nothing to wear?’,” recalled chief operations officer Lim.

“For a person who arrived from a finance history, applying logic and mathematics, it just instantly felt like wow, that is definitely a very illogical reaction that I have to fashion,” she mentioned.

Styling it out

We commenced with a waitlist first, so we experienced enough range of garments and ample capability.

Chris Halim

co-founder and CEO, Style Concept

That inefficiency has spawned a host of new clothes rental platforms in search of to satisfy aware buyers with a guilt-absolutely free substitute to rapid trend. 

Pioneered in 2009 by U.S. system Rent The Runway, the circular fashion field has bloomed about the past decade, inspiring other models this kind of as My Wardrobe HQ in the U.K. and GlamCorner in Australia. Yet, the logistical difficulties of Southeast Asia created it a tough industry to crack. That led beginner entrepreneurs Lim and Halim to adopt a exam-1st method.  

“We started out with a waitlist 1st, so we experienced enough quantity of clothes and adequate potential for shoppers,” said main executive Halim. “As the clients occur in, we are either proven appropriate or tested mistaken and then we repeatedly iterate from there.”

Adopting a knowledge-driven method

The couple’s details-driven technique saw them change from proudly owning all the inventory in-house to a consignment model in 2019. 

Under the new framework, Design and style Theory retains stock on behalf of designers and folks, spending them each and every time an item is rented. The corporation then normally takes a cut of the $95 unrestricted month to month subscription price for the administration, courier and cleaning of products. 

Trend rental platform Type Theory retains inventory on behalf of designers and men and women, paying out them each time an merchandise is rented.


That mindset, in change, has attracted buyers, including SoftBank, Alpha JWC Ventures and Indonesian real estate corporation the Paradise Group, which have invested around $30 million in the organization.

“The difficulty that they’re resolving is definitely for the users and, in this situation, a lot of female end users. But this also delivers solutions (to) the suppliers or designers to be capable to reach this focus on marketplace in a extra direct method,” Jefrey Joe, handling lover at Alpha JWC Ventures, informed CNBC Make It.

A modern sector

This round fashion marketplace is significant sufficient to create at least a unicorn from Southeast Asia.

Jefrey Joe

controlling partner, Alpha JWC Ventures

A great deal of that advancement could be led by Asia-Pacific, where the comparatively nascent outfits rental current market is ripe for disruptive gamers like Design Concept. According to industry study business Investigate Nester, the region is forecast to account for almost a quarter (22.14%) of the all round sector inside 6 several years.

“The market place dimension of this phase is even now very small … (but) we also see enormous possible,” claimed Joe. “This circular vogue sector is major sufficient to build at the very least a unicorn from Southeast Asia,” he explained, referring to start off-ups with a valuation of $1 billion.

Pivoting in the pandemic

The duo aims to capitalize on that chance by tailoring their providing to the unique requires of people in Asia. That includes curating garments to go well with local cultures and climates, as effectively as supplying assortment solutions and personal styling in pop-up stores.

On the other hand, the outlook for the manner field is not without obstacle. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 struck a blow to stores, denting earnings and shuttering merchants. In the meantime, with social engagements canceled and hygiene taking a priority, clothing rental was strike challenging. 

Type Theory launched its resale business in 2020 in reaction to altering client routines amid the pandemic.

Design Concept

“The pandemic is almost certainly the most difficult time for us as a company,” mentioned Halim, whose business enterprise has right up until now only recovered 75% of pre-pandemic people.

“But it also introduced a ton of possibilities. The most thrilling a person for us was actually fashion resale,” he ongoing, citing a provider that permits consumers to obtain and offer pre-employed items. “(We) formally released the system past calendar year, and have been equipped to develop that organization 10x in like 12 months.”

A timeless assortment

Still, the founders are confident fashion rental is no trend. 

In its 5 several years, they say Type Principle has facilitated much more than 2.3 million rentals and saved a lot more than 600,000 preloved designer objects from prematurely getting into landfills. 

Fundamentally, the business is a child for us.

Chris Halim

co-founder and CEO, Style Theory