Photo: ST Photos/Desmond Wee
Ms Beatrice Tan, founder of home-grown fashion label Klarra, says she makes sure its clothes have more of an Asian fit and cut to suit local customers.
The 28-year-old creative designer of the contemporary womenswear label says: "It is important that the clothes suit the local customer - that helps us stand apart from competitors."
Ms Tan, who studied business and finance at National University of Singapore, says when designing for the label, certain measurements are taken into account to better fit the average Asian customer.
Klarra, which officially launched online in 2014, is also available at department store Robinsons The Heeren and Raffles City. The label carries modern fashion for women, such as a stripe-print off-shoulder top for $45, a pleated midi skirt for $59 and a tiered sleeve dress for $89.
The hems of A-line dresses should end slightly above the knee, while hems for shift dresses end about an inch higher. This helps the silhouette look taller, says Ms Tan.
For jumpsuits, as Asian bodies are usually not as lanky as Caucasian ones, the distance between the shoulder and the crotch cannot be too long. This ensures that the piece will fit better around the waist and crotch area without excess material bunching up.
"Many customers also tell us that they are more bottom-heavy. So, we take that into account as well and provide pieces with higher fitted waistlines to flatter that shape."
Having clothes with more of an Asian fit is not the only thing that the three-year-old fashion label does to stay competitive.
It also offers services such as personal showroom sessions, a policy which allows customers to return any item within seven working days as long as the item is in its original condition and a loyalty programme.
Ms Tan, whose boyfriend is in the financial technology industry, says these services help to bridge the gap between online and offline.
"Customers can book a showroom session and they get to try out clothes and have some refreshments. They can also take along a friend and they don't have to buy anything."
Ms Tan says the label started offering the free sessions in 2015.
"We have customers who book a showroom session every time we launch a new collection."
She says the service helps the label build relationships with customers.
"As we sell mostly online, meeting face-to-face with the customers during these sessions makes it easier to get their feedback, which helps us improve."
More of such interaction sessions are in the pipeline, including pop-up stores.
On her role in the company, Ms Tan says she takes a hands-on approach and heads "almost everything from operations to design and manufacturing".
The former model, who has worked with local brand Love, Bonito, started her label three years ago after realising that she wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry full-time.
Before starting Klarra, she worked at a bank, handling equity settlements.
"But I left after four months. It just wasn't for me."
The savvy social media user, who has more than 69,000 followers on Instagram, started blogging full-time.
"I also started selling second-hand clothes on my blog. When that became successful, I realised I could probably start my own label."
She says the label has been growing consistently. Sales have grown 25 per cent in the past year.
"Competition is tough in Singapore. It is easy for international brands to come here, so shoppers are spoilt for choice."
She says the original designs, quality fabrics and new pieces released every month bring customers back to Klarra.
"It is not easy for a local brand to stand out, so we try to offer new and exciting things to our customers. Running your own business can be hectic, but I enjoy it."
This article first appeared on The Straits Times on April 13, 2017.