Sometime started in 2012 as an online-only business that paved the way for women to own exclusive designer handbags at a fraction of the original cost, most of which would be in the four or five-figure price range.
In an article we wrote in 2015, we talked about its beginnings working with selected talents and fashion icons in the Asian region to disrupt the fast fashion category.
Since then, we’ve heard about a slew of new achievements for the fashion house.
Expanding to an offline market
Nicole Wong and Stan Chooi, the co-founders, realised it was past time for Sometime to expand into the offline market after witnessing substantial growth in the brand’s online audience.
In May 2019, the founders were able to launch their first brick-and-mortar store in The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur, alongside other well-known international fashion brands.
In fact, Sometime opened a new outlet in One Utama Mall in Petaling Jaya earlier this year. This was accomplished with pride by the team due to the fact that it was built and launched during the pandemic.
“Our company size has grown so much since our last chat with Vulcan Post in 2015,” Nicole and Stan told us. “This year, we are looking forward to moving into our 60,000 sq ft full-fledged headquarters with a production facility and warehouse.”
Working with emerging Asian designers
Sazzy Falak and Vivy Yusof were the only designers known to have worked with Sometime seven years ago.
“The key criteria when it comes to filtering and selecting the designers to work with are their unique perspectives in their design DNA and if they complement our design principles,” Nicole and Stan shared.
“Currently, we only work with the most established and creative designers and icons in their respective fields.”
For example, Rizalman was offered the opportunity since he was labelled as “The King of Couture”, whereas Alia Bastamam was chosen exclusively for her feminine and sophisticated sense of style.
Kamwei Fong, a talented Malaysian artist, joined forces with Sometime after achieving a plethora of notable international recognition, including having his artwork displayed at the Salon des Beaux Arts in Paris.
His works are mostly black and white portrayals of cats that he hand-draws with 0.05pt and 0.1pt archival micro pigment ink fine line pens and a lot of patience.
This technique results in wonderfully fluffy-looking felines, some of which have graced Sometime’s products. My own colleagues have a few of Sometime’s products with Kamwei Fong’s felines on them.
They have also collaborated with Jason Wu, a Taiwanese-born American designer who has dressed A-list celebrities and public figures such as Jessica Alba, Meghan Markle, and Lady Gaga.
Standing out from the crowd
Nicole and Stan indicated that they will continue to be on the lookout for opportunities to work with emerging designers in the future.
However, it is common in the fashion industry for issues to arise surrounding how designer collaborations work. At times, one party is more involved in the design process than the other, or the designer lacks creative freedom.
On occasion, collaborators are chosen solely to generate publicity, leveraging their good name.
This is where Sometime is thought to differentiate itself from the other fashion labels.
“Our collaboration’s modus operandi requires the collaborators or designers to be heavily involved from the process of conceptualisation, design, production, to marketing the collection,” Kins, the senior brand manager, explained.
“In most cases, the designers are taking the lead or at least have a 50-50 share of voice in all decision-making throughout each of the processes. We believe the output of the collection must reflect the designers’ identity well, and the only way to achieve that is for them to be fully immersed throughout the collaboration process.”
Making every piece special
According to the founders, Sometime was the first Malaysian bag and accessory company to pioneer multidisciplinary high-end personalisation in 2017.
They shared, “Our products have been recognised for their minimalist yet practical design, with the touch of individuality from our customers.”
Every collection is created to reflect the designer’s identity, with the entire design process beginning with the conceptualisation of the iconic element that signifies the designer’s design direction.
“It could be the choice of materials, the design of a signature hardware, or a specific silhouette that best represents the designer’s design identity,” she added. “If you look at our individual designer’s collection, you’ll notice a significant and signature style.”
Today, you could say that the fashion house is one of the most well-known ones to offer shadow embroidery personalisation, which is regarded as a high-end and time-consuming embroidery technique. In fact, the founders believe that they’re the only brand in Southeast Asia to do it.
“We have high expectations towards our work,” Nicole outlined. “We expect our esteemed customers to have a high sense of taste too.”
Even if they have the same customer’s name, the founders claim that no two personalised products are exactly 100% equivalent, with differences in thread count and placement visible.
“That’s the uniqueness of it when we refuse to offer fully computerised personalisation methods such as printing and other automated methods which are easier and faster to implement,” she stated.
“The output is truly different and feels more personal.”
Conserve to serve
Currently, its heavy-duty collection is made of 90% recycled plastic and grosgrain. Sometime’s next goal is to become a more environmentally-friendly fashion brand.
“Since day one, we’ve shied away from using animal leather,” Kins clarified. “A significant amount of time was spent in research and development to produce our high quality premium synthetic leather with microfiber, or some would call it vegan leather.”
Two years ago, the team started to invest in a new material, canvas, which is sourced from natural cotton that’s grown in organic fields and processed without chemicals.
Aside from their new headquarters, the team is also currently working on a third outlet located in IOI City Mall, Putrajaya, which will open on August 25, this year. This will help the brand acquire even more offline customers.
Despite reaching significant milestones, one takeaway that Sometime’s founders shared was the importance of remaining humble.
They believe that the best way to run a brand is to always have a “first-day” attitude, which means that they should always look for ways to improve themselves and not be carried away by success.
From their journey, it’s also clear that success doesn’t just mean rapid expansion—sometimes, it’s a slow, steady, and meaningful growth.
- Learn more about Sometime by Asian Designers here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Nicole Wong, co-founder of Sometime by Asian Designers