For more than a decade, Southeast Asian womenswear label Love, Bonito has made a name for itself selling empathetic designs. “We like to think of Love, Bonito not as a clothing business, but a woman business,” says Love, Bonito CEO Dione Song. “We want to be there for women in every season of their lives.”
From pockets in dresses to padded, backless designs and versatile office and maternity wear, Love, Bonito’s clothes are designed with close attention to the real-life needs of women.
That sensitivity has built Love, Bonito a devoted following: some 30% of the company’s earliest customers still purchase with the brand today – no mean feat in a fickle and crowded fashion landscape.
Thanks to strong word of mouth from visitors to Singapore as well as diehard fans living abroad, Love, Bonito has expanded its reach across much of the Asia-Pacific region and now, to the United States.
Love Bonito’s cuts are designed specifically for Asian proportions with smaller busts and longer torsos on average and, much like in makeup, the brand’s color palettes take most Asian skin undertones into account. “We crowdsource fit models so that our designs are tried and tested by women from all kinds of backgrounds,” says Dione. “All of this makes us the preferred choice for Asian consumers living in western countries, where they might struggle to find clothes that fit them.”
Knowing its customers’ needs and identifying gaps in the global market has been a benefit to Love, Bonito, which has a robust e-commerce presence accounting for around 50% of the brand’s total sales, shipping to 20 countries. It also has 21 physical retail outlets, mostly in Asia-Pacific, but also including a newly opened New York City pop-up store (open through the end of 2023) aimed at reaching new customers in the U.S.
Love, Bonito first established a U.S. presence in 2019, with business really taking off after the company secured $50 million in series C funding in 2021.
“In 2022, we saw 60% YoY growth on our U.S. website,” says Dione. “We have great ambitions to go omnichannel in the U.S., because consumers want to feel the clothes before purchasing as well as have the option of shopping online.” The success of the brand’s New York pop-up has encouraged it to experiment with new strategies to complement e-commerce, from influencer outreach to hosting community-building events and workshops at physical locations.
When brands move into new markets, it is critical they offer simple, fast, and trustworthy payments systems that are widely accessible, says Love, Bonito CFO Will Vaya.
He adds, “PayPal is a natural partner for us, because of its large market coverage and seamless transaction experience, making it is one of the quickest ways to reach customers in new markets such as the U.S.”
Integrating PayPal Checkout into Love, Bonito’s website means customers shopping with the brand save time and have more payment flexibility. Will calls out the support PayPal offers to the company, as well as additional features that can improve the customer checkout process, like offering more ways to pay including Pay Later options for U.S.-based customers.
Dione emphasizes that Love, Bonito has found success because of its focus on the women who are the brand’s loyal customers. International expansion has followed the request and requirement of customers around the world, rather than a conscious pursuit of growth for the sake of growth.
“Our expansion plans have always been guided by feedback from our community, or by us searching for and researching new markets with similar demographics to our existing customer base,” said Dione, noting it’s the same approach the company applies to its product range. “In recent years we have expanded our offerings into activewear and even natural supplements for women’s health needs. Our aim is to evolve the Love, Bonito into a holistic ecosystem of offerings for our customers.”
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