Love, Bonito is Southeast Asia’s largest vertically integrated, omni-channel womenswear brand and since 2010 they have been catering to Asian women who were struggling to find apparel that suits them. In this interview, RLI sits down with Dione Song, CEO of Love, Bonito to learn more about a company that inspires women to finds strength through adversity and to achieve and realise their fullest potential.
The company believes they are not just in the business of fashion, but in the business of women. They are committed to journeying with their community through various seasons of life, with apparels ranging from The Staples to LYLAS (their bridesmaids line) and Embrace: Maternity to their Kid’s collection.
Over the past 12 years, Love, Bonito has grown to more than 300 people strong and is proudly headquartered in Singapore. Last October, the company clinched US$50M from their Series C funding round and they plan to venture deeper into and beyond fashion, to be a true life partner for the everyday Asian woman.
Today the brand operates 17 physical retail stores with six situated in Singapore, five in Malaysia, three in Indonesia, two in Cambodia and one in Hong Kong. In addition, their e-commerce sites ship to 20 countries worldwide with dedicated websites for Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan and an international website serving customers from the rest of the world.
As part of their international expansion strategy they have recently launched one store in each of the markets Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore. Most recently, one store opened in December at Singapore’s Waterway Point, following a launch on 12 August at Grand Indonesia shopping mall in Jakarta and a 22 July opening of its first-ever flagship store at 30 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong which also doubles up as the brand’s first brick-and-mortar store outside of Southeast Asia.
“Looking ahead, we plan to supercharge our efforts in key international markets such as Hong Kong, the Philippines and the US since these markets have collectively shown triple-digit growth over the past year and we see a lot of potential in them. In addition, we aim to double down our efforts in omni-channel markets namely Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia,” explains Dione Song, CEO of Love, Bonito.
“Our vision is to evolve into a female ecosystem. We will expand our offerings to support women through various phases of their life in and beyond fashion.”
Beyond their physical expansion, the company is excited to be expanding into additional categories including active apparel and wellness products. The business has begun this process with the acquisition of butter., a Singapore-based women-led activewear brand and a small stake investment in Moom Health, a Singapore-based natural healthcare start-up. This marks Love, Bonito’s commitment towards building a holistic female ecosystem with a house of brands that have been thoughtfully curated for the everyday Asian woman.
Recognising the pivotal role social media plays in the modern retail world, the company adopts an omni-channel approach to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, whether they are shopping online from a desktop, via a mobile device or in a brick-and-mortar store. Song explains that social media has given them a great opportunity to hear feedback from the ground up and have an immediate reaction to improve customer experience.
“We have leveraged our global platforms Facebook (280k likes), Instagram (446k followers), LinkedIn (24.4k followers), TikTok (78.3k fans) and our newly relaunched YouTube channel to stay in touch with our community and potential employees,” Song highlights. “Moving forward, we are also working on having a more diverse and inclusive influencer pool, where we look forward to partnering with like-minded profiles from different life stages, with different body shapes and skin tones.”
Sustainability is more important than ever for companies and at Love, Bonito, sustainable processes are built into the foundation of their operational model. They are thoughtful in their approach from the get-go and design apparels that have mileage through quality materials that allow for repeat wear and classic designs that remain timeless and chic.
To further drive their Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts, they have made their first sustainability hire internally and aim to form a sustainability pillar and cross-functional squad to drive ownership across the entire organisation by the end of the year.
So what does the CEO feel are the key drivers behind the success of the brand to date?
“The desire to create thoughtful designs with a great Asian fit has been our guiding principle since day one. Typically, Asian women are more petite and narrower in the waist and hips and have a smaller bust and shorter legs compared to the average Western woman. As such, during our design process, we take into consideration the torso-to-leg and bust-to-hips ratios.”
Song continues by saying they are also really proud of their partnership with Mattel in 2021, where they championed the idea of women having limitless potential. Through this partnership, they benefitted Room to Read, an organisation that supports gender inequality through education and helped 100 girls in low-income communities in Asia to stay in high school for a year.
“Love, Bonito is grounded by our mission to empower the everyday Asian woman and inspire self-confidence. As part of our 12th Anniversary, we announced a global brand refresh and new tagline ‘Come Into Your Own’, which is being rolled out across multiple online and offline platforms. As we continue to journey alongside our community, we want to continue inspiring women to find strength through adversity, to achieve and realise their fullest potential,” Song concludes.