FASHION - INTERVIEW
Monday, December 10, 2018
FASHION - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
Stan Chooi and Nicole Wong have known that the production of bag is one of the technical fields in the fashion industry and they decided to turn their years of experience into a brand. In December 2012, 'Sometime by Asian Designers' was born as an online-focused company. Sometime By Asian Designers offers designer bags to the market with affordable price for the last six years. I talked with Nicole Wong about her career and Sometime By Asian Designers.
Nicole, before talking about Sometime By Asian Designers, could you tell us about yourself?
My name is Nicole Wong. I am the co-founder of Sometime By Asian Designers as well as the product and design lead. Prior to Sometime, I was the external product specialist and advisor to the designers behind luxury brands. My job was to support and help them to enhance and refine their designs in order to develop feasible prototypes and productions for luxury bags and accessories across different continents of the world.
Sometime By Asian Designers - Ribag Hobo Collection
How did you decide to be a designer? What inspired you to establish Sometime By Asian Designers?
I’ve spent many years of my career as a product specialist and advisor to designers behind the luxury brands worldwide. My major is bags and accessories. Basically, my job was to help designers refine their drawing and translate to feasible prototypes before going into production. The foundation of my career led to where I am today. I don’t see fashion purely as aesthetical design. Products such as bags and accessories are more to industrial design to me. They are more about functionality meets beauty or beauty with brains.
My partner’s forte is in brand building. I noticed a gap in the fashion scene in Asia - There are many fashion designers majoring in clothing and shoes but very few when it comes to bags. When it comes to the bag, all the market can relate to would be the brands from the west. One of the main reasons is that bags are the most complicated products to make in the entire fashion category. Besides needing to be aesthetically beautiful, unlike other categories of fashion products, bags have “responsibility” - the design must take into consideration of important fundamentals such as capacity, durability etc. A perfect bag is one that is aesthetically beautiful but practical at the same time.
Luxury designer bags sell for 10 to 20 times of what it costs to make. The markup is due to major retail rentals, heavy advertising budget, massive hiring etc.
My partner and I wanted to challenge the status quo by combining both our expertise to offer a platform that empowers very selected established and impactful Asian designers to come together to design iconic bags, and offer to the market without the conventional markup.
Hence, Sometime by Asian Designers and being an online-focused company.
Sometime By Asian Designers - Lofarbag Collection
Could you tell us about Sometime By Asian Designers and the overall concept?
Sometime by Asian Designers is a bag and accessories specialist company that co-designs with very select established, influential, creative and impactful Asian Designers. We are 6 years old now and have worked with some of the most respected and established designers and icons in this part of the region such as Jason Wu, Rizalman, Alia Bastamam, Neelofa, just to name a few and we have created and offered some of the most iconic collections to the market.
What are the brands and designers that you are working with?
Sometime By Asian Designers - Niko-Niko Collection
What kind of fashion products can your customers find on Sometime By Asian Designers? How often do you add a new collection to Sometime By Asian Designers?
Handbags, accessories such as wristlet, keyrings, passport holders, laptop covers etc.
Most importantly, our products can be personalized with customers' names and make them truly unique to their owners. As a bag and accessories specialist company, we employ various ways of personalization, depending on the designer collection.
We have new collections introduced every month.
When a designer that would like to work with Sometime By Asian Designers has contacted you, what are the most important features that you are looking for before deciding to work with this designer? What features should this designer have for a successful collaboration?
The designer or icon should have individuality or unique creative positioning that has strong impact and influence on the market or community. Naturally, with that characteristics or criteria, we will be able to conceptualize and discover the solid foundation of the design and collection together. Everything else will manifest from that very foundation.
Sometime By Asian Designers - Ribag Collection
Nowadays, there is a great conflict between online and brick & mortar stores. What effects are currently being felt in the fashion industry? What do you think about the future of this conflict?
Both are ways or channel to reach consumers and I don’t see it as a conflict. It’s more to complement that comes with more advantages than disadvantages. If you see it from a business point of view, a brand should have a presence in both online and offline. However, both channels come with different weightage, advantages and disadvantages. I think every brand should discover its positioning and decide if it should be an offline, online or both offline and online brand/company. There’s no one solution that fits all. Some might find online and offline harmoniously blend in to be successful, while some might see either one of the channels being the only way forward.
How can consumers turn this conflict to their advantage?
If a brand has an offline presence, consumers will be able to touch and feel the products or services better and gain confidence before making a purchase. However, this "confidence" isn't free. It comes with a price to pay - the offline brand will have a higher markup on its products due to the cost for offline presence. It is also another avenue to elevate branding exercise to create trustworthy perception to the general consumers. Whether it's an advantage or not, it depends on how individual consumer sees it. The entire idea of going online or e-commerce is to be competitive and provide the value of a different kind. It is, however, not a perfect experience being entirely virtual.
Sometime By Asian Designers - Esatch Collection
What do you think about social media? Do you experience the effect of social media on the customer's behavior and preferences?
Social media, in general, make the world connected. Consumers get access and able to stay up-to-date with the brand’s development. So yes, it has been a great source of connector for our brand with our consumers where we are able to get more personal, have conversations and learn more about what our customers want, think and feel about our products, services, and brand. This, in general, gives us the insights to move forward and grow practically.
How can our readers follow Sometime - By Asian Designers?
Facebook : sometime.byasiandesigners
What is next for you and Sometime By Asian Designers?
We are 6 years old but I always think that we have just started. The proposition is “By Asian Designers” and we still have a lot of other countries in the region that we have yet to penetrate. We look forward to getting in touch with their talents and make Asia proud!
Thank you Nicole.