How Love, Bonito is celebrating and uplifting women through fashion

How Love, Bonito is celebrating and uplifting women through fashionHow Love, Bonito is celebrating and uplifting women through fashion
via Love, Bonito
What started as a humble blog shop named BonitoChico in 2005 has evolved into Southeast Asia’s largest omnichannel womenswear brand, driven by the founders’ mission to empower and serve women across diverse Asian communities.
Initially, co-founder Rachel Lim only intended to generate supplementary income, but as her business venture grew, she began importing clothes from overseas. This is when she realized that there was a gap in the market. 
“We found that clothes didn’t quite resonate with Asian women in terms of fit, style and preferences,” Lim tells NextShark. “This realization led us to eventually design apparel that celebrates the body proportions and tastes of women in our diverse communities. In 2010, we rebranded to Love, Bonito. We wanted to empower women to have the confidence to live their most authentic lives.” 
Soon, the brand would physically expand throughout Southeast Asia and later launch an international website to ship to 20 countries globally. The brand’s increasing growth further solidified Love, Bonito’s vision of empowering women through accessible, well-fitted and high-quality clothing that continues to uplift and boost women’s confidence. 
via Love, Bonito
In 2023, Love, Bonito forayed into the U.S. market, venturing beyond Asia for the first time. The company launched a pop-up store in Soho, New York City, and within just a year, achieved double-digit growth, showcasing its deep resonance with the Asian American community. 
Dione Song, CEO of Love, Bonito, attributes this success to the company’s data-driven approach, which involves tracking over 100 product attributes and gathering feedback. This approach enables the recreation of successful designs while remaining adaptable in the market. Song also emphasizes the brand’s dedication to thoughtful designs that address practical needs and instill confidence in women, a factor that has garnered appreciation not only from the core Asian demographic but also resonated with a broader audience.
“Love, Bonito isn’t merely in the business of fashion,” Song shares. “We’re in the business of empowering women. This guiding ethos shapes our evolution, enabling us to carefully assess the impact on our customers and communities with every step forward.”
via Love, Bonito
Through careful understanding of the Asian community, the company announced a new brand identity in March to embrace the multifaceted roles women undertake in society. The identity, “Ready-to-live, not just ready-to-wear,” not only underscores the brand’s commitment to crafting timeless and functional pieces, but it also highlights the importance of embracing the daily lives of women from casual outings to professional settings.
“Love, Bonito is more than just about looking good; we want to embrace women’s real lives and create clothes that are versatile for them to go about their daily tasks, whether it’s school drop-offs, board meetings or date nights,” Lim says. “To me, ‘Ready-to-live’ means taking on life courageously, seizing opportunities and living without compromise. As a working mother of two, I understand the demands of balancing multiple roles with minimal downtime in between. This really inspired us to create apparel that are both flattering and functional to carry us through our days.”
The company found its identity aligning with Asian talents and influencers Arden Cho, Gym Tan, Chanel Miller and Yuna, who represent a diverse range of Asian women across different backgrounds and walks of life. Cho, a Korean American actress, advocates for Asian representation and authenticity in the entertainment industry. Tan challenges age-related stereotypes in fashion, serving as a model for women of all ages. Miller, a bestselling author and sexual assault survivor, embodies empowerment and resilience, while Yuna, a Malaysian singer, represents diversity and inclusivity, showcasing Love, Bonito’s commitment to accommodating different fashion preferences. 
via Love, Bonito
By collaborating with these influencers, Love, Bonito aims to challenge stereotypes surrounding Asian women and reject the narratives of Asian exceptionalism and perfectionism, instead celebrating the authentic lives of women in all their “raw, messy and imperfect beauty.”
“Ready to live, for me, feels like it’s about NOW, in the moment,” Cho remarks. “Stop saying ‘I’ll be happy when I’m more successful’ or ‘when I lose weight.’ While we may have aspirations, we have to enjoy the journey and the ride! Be ready to live NOW, and be happy with who you are NOW. Embrace all of the imperfections that make us truly beautiful and unique.”
Song believes fashion is already inherently a disempowering industry for women and notes the importance of “taking inspiration from real Asian women around us – multifaceted, full of heart and surprising.” She emphasizes the need to amplify stories and create a safe space where Asian women can authentically express themselves. “Representation is in the details and we will continue to design clothing that are ready-to-live, not just ready-to-wear,” she says. 
Along with the new brand identity, Love, Bonito will reduce the total number of styles produced by 60%, focusing on three key product lines: Signatures, Staples and Capsule collections. The strategic shift aims at creating a more resilient business model while widening its global footprint. 
The streamlined approach allows for smarter investments across various business functions and ensures that best-selling items remain consistently available, addressing customer feedback and reducing environmental impact. The Signatures line embodies the brand’s sophisticated and modern identity at accessible price points, while Staples offers versatile wardrobe essentials with a Love, Bonito twist. The Capsule collections provide fresh seasonal trends catering to different occasions.
via Love, Bonito
Lim envisions an exciting future for the brand, with goals focused on both market expansion and enhancing its brand identity. She notes their journey to building an ecosystem with a vision to become “the ultimate go-to destination for all women,” while staying true to its Asian roots. They also intend to continue being a platform for women’s empowerment through community engagement and storytelling by strengthening connections with local partners and amplifying the voices of women from diverse backgrounds.
Lim hopes for customers to look to Love, Bonito as their “ally and biggest cheerleader” as they continuously aim to understand the nuances of their identities, the multiplicity of their roles and the vibrancy of their cultures. 
“Our brand celebrates your uniqueness and is a testament to our belief that every woman deserves to feel confident and empowered,” Lim says. “We are here to journey with you in every chapter of your life with a style that speaks to you and for you. Love, Bonito is a community, a support system and a platform for empowerment with every design, collection and piece of clothing thoughtfully created with you in mind.” 
Love, Bonito’s Signatures Collection, which ranges from $39 to $99, is currently available on its website.
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