The fashion industry is in a constant state of flux and the future is as predictable as the weather. Enter the next generation of entrepreneurs rocking the boat. This young crop of designers, new-age retailers, content creators, technopreneurs and style leaders are birthing many of today’s newest fashion trends, bringing their risk-taking attitudes and out-of-the-box thinking to the fore.
Here’s how 8 young fashion entrepreneurs are disrupting the industry, one leap at a time.
Amber Venz Box, 29, USA
Founder, rewardStyle and LIKEtoKNOW.it
Amber Venz Box could very well be nominated the patron saint of fashion retailers, designers and bloggers all over the world. Her business, rewardStyle functions as a digital monetisation platform that allows bloggers and lifestyle publishers to earn a commission off each e-commerce purchase directed through their site. Founded in early 2011, rewardStyle has progressively changed the face of the retail and blogging industry. It now boasts a network of over 4,000 retailers and 14,000 publishers. At just 29 years of age, Amber’s already experienced most sides of the fashion industry, including founding her namesake jewellery line, working as a freelance stylist, fit model, retail buyer and lifestyle blogger. All that would have earned anyone the chance to take it slow, but Amber’s already on to the next thing: LIKEtoKNOW.it, a similar tool that’s built for Instagram.
Left: Garancedore, LIKEtoKNOWit
Evita Nuh, 17, Indonesia
Blogger and Creative Director, EN.PENS
Evita may be 17, but she has more industry experience than most bloggers twice her age. The fashion wunderkind started her blog, JellyJellyBeans in 2008 (now renamed as The crème de la crop), when she was still a wide-eyed eight-year-old. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, blogging and tackling questions on ask.fm became her way of communicating with the world. She has since risen to stratospheric heights as one of Indonesia’s preeminent style influencers, with followers that number in the tens of thousands. She was recently heralded as a teen visionary in Refinery 29’s Z list — a list made up of the world’s most influential teenagers and Elle magazine famously christened her the “next Tavi (Gevinson). By all accounts, Evita is living up to the title. Carving her own path like the famous “style rookie”, she’s added creative director to her resume with the launch of EN.PENS, her own line of customisable bags. Just goes to show you’re never too young to make the world sit up and listen.
Left: The crème de la crop, EN.PENS
Luke Grana, 32, Hong Kong
Founder and CEO, Grana
Luke Grana is no stranger to the start-up world, having established and successfully sold several companies and cafes, before turning his sights onto the lucrative fashion retail market. His brand Grana evolved from the simple concept of luxury-quality wardrobe essentials with fast-fashion price tags. According to Luke, everything boils down to outstanding logistics. For instance, headquartering the business and its distribution centre in Hong Kong has allowed Grana to deliver its products to customers worldwide at highly affordable price points. Focusing primarily on online also cuts out the middlemen. Luke’s calculated strategy shows how a global-oriented company can thrive in the digital age.
Jane Lu, 29, Australia
Founder and CEO, Showpo
Jane Lu is the shiny beacon of hope for all aspiring girlbosses out there. The 29-year old heads Showpo, an Australian-based e-tailer with a turnover of $10 million. Showpo has amassed a huge following by leveraging social media and staying a step ahead of trends. But her success did not come easy. Finding it hard to settle into her job in corporate finance, Lu quit the corporate grind in 2010 to start her own online store. Her first business failed to take off, leaving her with $50,000 in debt. In order to avoid her parents’ disappointment, Lu even hid the fact that she was jobless from them, putting up a show of going to work for a whole 6 months while secretly plugging away at her new business idea. With no experience or funding, Lu managed to scale the business to the global fashion empire it is today. She attributes her success to her ability to bounce back from failure, stressing the importance of allowing yourself to fail, to fall, and most importantly, to do what you love.
Stephanie Crespin, 31, Singapore
Founder and CEO, StyleTribute
Mention secondhand luxury or socially conscious shopping and Stephanie Crespin’s name is bound to crop up. The 31-year-old is the founder of StyleTribute, a preloved luxury goods portal based in Singapore. The premise is simple: StyleTribute helps users make money off of their idle, expensive clothes and iron out the buying process for shoppers who lack the time and energy to hunt down unique vintage or contemporary designer pieces. StyleTribute aims to corner the top tier of the secondhand market by creating “a premium, safe and hassle-free solution for high-end fashion connoisseurs to sell and buy luxury and designer items”. This is reinforced by a strict authentication process and a high level of curation, ensuring that only goods of a high standard are sold on the platform. Crespin’s ultimate vision for the future: To contribute to an era where shoppers will consider the resale value (on StyleTribute of course) of a particular item before any decision to purchase.
Velda Tan, 28, Singapore
Velda Tan is known as a leading light in the Singapore fashion scene. As co-founder of fast fashion e-tailer Love Bonito, she was part of the team that started the online shopping wave in Singapore, alongside her sister Viola Tan and childhood friend, Rachel Lim. Since parting ways with Love Bonito in 2013, Velda has been busy running her own independent label, Collate. The label made its debut at the 2015 Singapore Fashion Week — a historic first for a new local brand, immediately gaining traction with style leaders and fashion industry insiders alike. The Central Saint Martins alumni, who studied visual merchandising, pattern making and business management is passionate about growing the nascent fashion industry in Singapore and altering perceptions of local designers as second to globally successful brands.
Vivy Yusof, 28, Malaysia
At 28, Vivy Yusof has experienced life as a fashion entrepreneur, designer, mum and reality television star, which is more than most. Together with her husband and partner, Fadzarudin Anuar, the pair founded FashionValet, one of Malaysia’s leading fashion e-commerce sites. Founded in 2010, FashionValet set out to become the go-to platform for the best of Malaysia’s homegrown brands and designers to build their presence online. Despite its young age, the e-commerce portal has reportedly hit the $10 million mark and secured several rounds of funding from entities like Elixir Capital and myEG. FashionValet has recently taken its online business offline as well, with the opening of its second store in Singapore’s prime shopping belt — Orchard Road. That’s not all, Vivy has also found considerable success as a designer, designing her own line of scarves called dUCk — a nod to her blogging roots under the banner of ProudDuck.
Yoon Jayoung, 27, South Korea
At 27, Yoon Jayoung might just shape up to be the next Ben Silbermann or Kevin Systrom with her winning app, StyleShare. Combining the social networking element with fashion-related visuals, the Pinterest-style image sharing app allows users worldwide to trade information on OOTDs in real time. As the app grows in popularity, businesses are starting to catch on to its commercial potential. Yoon states that eventually, users will be able to view fashion content and purchase items with one click— good news for independent designers and small businesses who wish to gain more visibility but don’t necessarily have the budget to do so through traditional advertising means. Founded in 2011, StyleShare has grown immensely in the last five years. It currently tracks 2.2 million registered users from 120 countries, and has raised $3.3 million in the same period.
Left: The Japan Times, Styleshare