Amid social unrest and the pandemic, there is no doubt that Hong Kong and its businesses have faced a great deal of uncertainty in the past two years. However, enterprising entrepreneurs from around the globe have seen those challenges as opportunities, envisioning the potential for Hong Kong and have opened doors for businesses here in the face of it all.
One of those companies is Singapore-based fashion startup, Style Theory, which was founded in 2016.
Founders Raena Lim and Chris Halim wanted to do their part to minimise the damage of fast fashion, a business model wherein brands copy high-fashion designs from trends and runways and produce them cheaply and wastefully for the masses. Similarly, very wealthy buyers of high-end fashion may only wear certain designs a limited amount of times before ignoring or discarding them altogether.
With Style Theory, Lim and Halim created a model where gently used, pre-owned and new apparel from A-list luxury designers like Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Saint Laurent and Gucci can be entered into an affordable and sustainable “digital wardrobe." Subscribers to the service have the opportunity to rotate their favourite pieces from month-to-month and are able to stay up-to-date with the latest fashion trends.
The concept has been a success, turning Style Theory into Southeast Asia's largest fashion rental platform.
When the platform made its Hong Kong debut in September 2020, the brand kicked things off by catering to its new market with luxury handbags. For an HK$899 monthly subscription fee, customers can choose one bag per month (at a maximum of three months), offering subscribers a chance to rotate new bags to go with their wardrobes, and always feel fresh and in style.
At launch, the available offering includes a selection of more than 2,000 luxury bags by over 25 international brands, broken into Classic styles, Trending styles, and even Andro — a selection of androgynous, indiscriminate styles that can be worn and enjoyed by anybody.
With so many fakes and bootlegs out there in the world, Style Theory uses state-of-the-art technology to identify counterfeits and verify the quality and authenticity of every product that enters their digital wardrobe. The company also goes to great lengths to ensure that the bags are "responsibly sourced, fully authenticated and inspected" to ensure that every product that leaves their facility is Style Theory-approved.
Customers’ bags will arrive within two to three days, and pickup can be arranged when it's time to send their rental back — or, if parting proves to be too difficult, users also have the opportunity to purchase their bag through the Style Theory app.
For an extra HK$99 a month, the brand also offers Style Theory Care, a form of insurance that covers any sorts of repair costs for minor damage or just general wear and tear from the month's rental, giving customers additional peace of mind when renting a bag they may not plan to keep.
With the options of always having new styles, clean and authentic products, and the ability to conserve space in their own wardrobes at home, it's an added opportunity for fashionistas to get the look they want — with a lot less waste.
Luxury can be sustainable after all.
“Pivoting to Hong Kong” is a series created with support from our partners at InvestHK. InvestHK’s vision is to strengthen Hong Kong’s status as the leading international business location in Asia. InvestHK works with overseas and Mainland entrepreneurs, SMEs and multinationals that wish to set up an office – or expand their existing business – in Hong Kong.