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Love, Bonito's CEO Dione Song on revamp and tackling the dirty name associated with fashion

Love, Bonito's CEO Dione Song on revamp and tackling the dirty name associated with fashion

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Homegrown womenswear brand Love, Bonito recently introduced a new brand identity and a revamped assortment strategy to reflect a maturity and sophistication in its goal to become the go-to destination for Asian women.  The rebrand was done in collaboration with brand practice Anak, and features a new logo that plays to the brand’s initials “LB” and forms a heart-shaped monogram which is in contrast to its previous text-based logo “Love, Bonito”.

Don't miss: Love, Bonito redefines womenswear with new brand identity and assortment strategy

Fronting the campaign is a powerhouse lineup of Asian women including ambassadors Arden Cho, mother-daughter duo Gym Tan and Mya Miller, Yuna and Chanel Miller, who were specifically chosen for their personal stories and outlook that stray from what a stereotypical Asian woman should be or look like.

Love, Bonito’s new brand identity also aims to challenge the perfect Asian women stereotype by taking on a sassier tone of voice across its omni-channel platforms and physical stores in its key markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Love, Bonito began as a blog shop on Livejournal under the name BonitoChico in 2005 before the label rebranded to Love, Bonito in 2010 and moved to their website. The brand currently has over 20 stores in the APAC region and ships to more than 20 international countries. It also experienced organic traction from the U.S. market and held its first pop-up store outside of Asia in New York City last year.

With the rebrand, Love, Bonito will introduce a streamlined assortment strategy made up of three key lines which include Signatures, Staples and capsule collections based on ten years of customer data combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence. This revamp will reduce the overall number of styles produced by 60%.

To bring this new brand identity to life, the brand will host a two-week public pop-up, titled “The House of Love, Bonito” from 15 to 24 March. The pop-up will feature styling and sharing sessions by artist Tiffany Lovage and digital creator Sofia Arissa Arman to name a few. Following the refreshed brand identity, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE sat down with Dione Song, CEO of Love, Bonito to find out more about how it came about.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Why did the team decide to do a brand overhaul now? What changes are you seeing in the market that prompted this?

While we are homegrown brand already quite well established in the market, we wanted to really amplify our DNA, mission and purpose as a brand to inspire and uplift the Asian woman. We have been around for 14 years and thought it was time to grow up a little, modernise ourselves and have a more elevated look to us.

As we thought about rebranding, we wanted to even make it more meaningful, which is why we also worked very closely, with Anak and the team. Being an Asian brand, we wanted to infuse our Asian heritage into the brand identity which can seen in the red lacquer in our stores.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: The way brands market to consumers have changed drastically. How does Love Bonito plan to keep up with the modern consumer?

The first thing is to be very laser-focused around who our customer is. And for us, she is a busy woman in her 30s or 40s who could be working in corporate or a mother as well. This woman is not chasing trends for the sake of it but looking for things such as versatility, functionality, convenience and easy mix-and-match options.

We also keep a very close relationship with our community which we can do because we are a fully direct-to-consumer brand. It's not just listening, or looking at things in retrospect but we would poll them across social media channels before dropping a new design or before we even expand to a new market.

We ask, “would you prefer this or that colour?”, “would you prefer this dress with or without a sleeve?” and “which malls do you visit when you think about fashion?”.

This then gives us a good opportunity to not just keep a pulse with the community but to co-create alongside them.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: As brands have been doing more to break through the digital clutter such as Fake OOH activations, how does Love, Bonito plan to stay relevant in a competitive advertising landscape?

It’s not just about digital advertising but being very clear about who our target audience is and going to where she is. It could be something as simple as thinking about creating a connection during a store visit. For example, the fitting room which is a very intimate and personal corner.

Very recently, we brought our 100 most loyal customers who have been shopping with us from our BonitoChico days together in a room to share our new identity before it was announced.

Not only was this to gather feedback but it was an important way to give them a space to share their opinions and thoughts as we stay relevant and evolve alongside our customers.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: With a new streamlined offering and consumer sustainability concerns on the rise, how does the brand plan to champion authenticity and transparency concerning sustainability?

First, when it comes to the assortment revamp, by reducing 60% of our styles we aim to cater to our community better by giving our design teams more attention and thoughtfulness to each design.

Beyond sustainability, consumers are becoming more prudent with their spending and want clothes that can take them from day to night and across different life stages. So for us, we want to give our products more longevity and mileage.

We may not often think about the cost per wear but instead of fast fashion that recreates and mass produces catwalk trends quickly, our design DNA has been about designing with utmost thoughtfulness for our community.

The fashion industry often has a dirty name largely due to overproduction concerns but we ensure that through data and keeping a close pulse with our community, we are better able to manage our inventory.

When it comes to sustainability, we take a more holistic approach by delving deeper into our people pillars and social compliance. We do this by ensuring safe working conditions and all of our core factories today are BSCI certified (amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative).

Lastly, the least sexy pillar people do not want to talk about is sustainability governance but it lays the foundation. We have been investing time by improving our policies, improving our systems, corporate governance and so on to provide a safe environment for our community and also manage our risk.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: It was mentioned that the streamlined offerings utilised data, machine learning and AI. How will AI play into the brand's retail and marketing efforts?

This comes back to understanding our customers which AI is able to help us stitch online and offline purchases into one unified customer ID which may sound basic but is quite hard to do.

When you go into brick and mortar, a lot of times you are not actually understanding your customers. Instead, you are collecting receipts and not collecting customer data points. For example to know what customers did in the store and how the interactions were like.

For us, when we went brick and mortar, we launched a loyalty programme to unify purchases offline and offline to better serve customers in the future. It is also important to have a well-architectured data warehouse that does not just collect rubbish data that makes it difficult to understand your customers better.

Whether it be through our website recommendations, different marketing channels such as EDMs and helping merchandising teams make more informed inventory decisions, AI helps tailor these experiences.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What are some of Love Bonito's short-term and long-term plans following the rebrand?

Most immediately is the “House of Love, Bonito” pop-up happening which is exciting because its not just about the clothes but having real, raw and in-depth conversations with many inspiring women from different backgrounds and lifestyles.

On top of that, we also plan to expand our omni-channel footprint in the coming six months.

Singapore customers can also look forward to the opening of one more store in the Tampines area and those in Hong Kong will get to enjoy a pop-up towards the middle of the year.

Our most exciting piece of news would be the opening of our first brick-and-mortar store in the Philippines in Metro Manila in the summer especially since we have seen great eCommerce traction in that market. We want to ensure that we are able to provide a more intimate space to have more interaction with our community and serve them better.

The long-term vision is really to be the destination for the Asian women globally which is why we will be doubling down on our footprint and growing our presence across our current core markets Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, now also the Philippines.

Beyond that, it is really about going even deeper when it comes to Asian representation, talking about this more and how can we find more diverse right sets of faces ambassadors or KOLs, to work alongside with, to grow our brand and showcase them all.

The Asian woman she's multifaceted, different and diverse with so many different personalities and so much colour to her as well. And that's really that stuff that we want to take forward.

Join us this coming 24 - 25 April for #Content360, a two-day extravaganza centered around four core thematic pillars: Explore with AI; Insight-powered strategies; Content as an experience; and Embrace the future. Immerse yourself in learning to curate content with creativity, critical thinking, and confidence with us at Content360!

Related articles:
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Love, Bonito opens first pop-up outside of Asia in New York City
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