Collabstore, a Malaysian multi-label fashion retail space in Kuala Lumpur

When you think about fashion, your mind gravitates toward Western capitals like New York, Paris, Milan, and London. But that doesn’t mean Malaysia doesn’t have a vibrant fashion scene.

Over the years, many notable fashion brands have sprung up in the local area. This includes brands such as Melinda Looi, Jovian Mandagie, Khoon Hooi, Jimmy Choo, and Zang Toi. They have all made a name for themselves locally, internationally, or both.

However, there is no denying that it is not easy to become a successful fashion designer anywhere.

Sabah-born Richard Tseng has been in the fashion industry for over 20 years and was aware of this problem. So he started doing the following to help budding designers get a better start. collaboration store—A multi-label retailer located at The Shops at Four Seasons Place, Kuala Lumpur.

Collaboration of domestic and international designers

Collabstore, as the name suggests, is a brand that handles and sells works by various designers. Its doors opened for the first time in 2021 as a platform for artisans to present their work.

In general, Richard said, consumers prefer to shop offline. And a lot of that boils down to two aspects for him: the in-store experience and being able to interact directly with the products.

After six months of intensive research with local designers and brand owners, Richard discovered that many of the artisans do not have the privilege or opportunity to open their own shop. “Because they’re not well known or don’t have the right connections. So we eliminate all that shit and focus on their craft.”

These artifacts can take the form of apparel, jewelry, watches, scarves, and even shoes, and when you collect them all in one place, they can look like a cluttered lineup. Having said that, I have visited the store myself, and words like crowded and dirty do not describe this store.

Rather, the layout resembles a combination of a department store and a boutique. Each label has its own section in the store, and each is better than the other.

In this way, multiple brands can afford to retail their collections in the heart of Malaysia, increasing the possibility of targeting executives and tourists.

Serving as a bridge between designers and consumers

As of this writing, Collabstore stocks products from a total of 32 domestic and international designers.This includes brands such as angelique, Andy Sleiman, bill keith, Blue Natal, binary style, Black by Blue Brave, Sangonand Richard’s own shoe label, Projet1826.

“We wanted this place to be a place for new products. We want to show the world how great our local products are. [and showcase them] In luxurious surroundings,” Richard confessed.

His ultimate goal is to allow Collabstore to focus on refining designers’ products, while the store manages and promotes their craft. This is achieved by holding seasonal fashion trunk shows to highlight a particular theme or launch a new brand.

For each fashion show, Richard hand-picks the designers to ensure the show is consistent with their creative direction. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to ask a Muslim fashion brand to design a resort wear collection.

“As a human being and as a brand owner, I only want to focus on their strengths. When you’re good at something, go above and beyond,” Richard said flatly.

Collaboration store’s recent resort wear fashion show “REHAT”

serious selection process

The 52-year-old founder spoke candidly to us and explained that he has a very hands-on role within the company. Each brand is carefully reviewed and shortlisted based on several criteria.

  • Their creative direction should complement Collabstore’s existing product mix
  • Must be able to support at least 3 months of inventory
  • Must be able to update the product regularly with new items

He said he would prioritize brands that practice sustainability, such as upcycling and recycling textiles. Another aspect Collabstore is considering is production scale. If the brands he’s interested in produce in bulk, Richard will turn them down.

Because he believes that at that point, brands are better off having their own retail stores. And this runs counter to Collaborative Store’s focus on supporting small fashion entrepreneurs.

“We want people to come in small batches so we can decide whether our designs are appropriate, functional, and acceptable.” In this way, the store also functions as an experimental space. Masu.

He shared that these are just some of the ways he identifies determination and strength in his fellow designers. And it helps put things into perspective for the artisans themselves as well.

“They have to either take this thing (a career as an artisan designer) seriously or quit. So there are people here who think they can commit and take it seriously. ” explained the founder. He welcomes designers who think he has the talent to contact him and the brand on Instagram.

A new creative outlet for streetwear

Unsurprisingly, convincing local customers to change the way they think about local products is one of the biggest challenges. At the same time, he faces issues that are at the other end of the spectrum.

One of the most common mistakes he has noticed is that conversions are not activated immediately after the fashion showcase. This is a missed opportunity because the brand will lose an interested customer.

“Collaborative stores often provide pop-up spaces for brands to engage with customers and collect pre-order sales. However, many people ignore my good intentions and opt for branding activities such as financing KOLs and celebrities. I preferred to continue with it,” Richard said.

Richard and some of the designers and models who attended a recent resort wear fashion show called REHAT

While influencer marketing isn’t a bad option, a balanced mix of both seems to be more beneficial for brands. After all, you still need to pay attention to on-site marketing.

However, Richard and Collabstore are undaunted by these issues. In fact, they plan to expand their collaborative store and open a new sister brand by the fourth quarter of 2023.

Dubbed “Curated by Collabstore,” you can find streetwear fashion at this retail space located at LaLaport Bukit Bintang City Center. Among the designers introduced there are: Kizu Urban, blanc studio Made in Indonesia, PRJ1826 (a new product group of Projet1826).

  • Learn more about collaboration store here.
  • Read the article we wrote about Malaysian startups here.

Featured image credit: Collabstore / Vulcan Post

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