Asian-inspired athleisure wear designed for Asian women

Yumi Active, founded by Ms Diana Chang (left), features collections with distinctly Asian-inspired prints, such as Singapore's Vanda Miss Joaquim national flower and Peranakan tile motifs.
Yumi Active, founded by Ms Diana Chang (left), features collections with distinctly Asian-inspired prints, such as Singapore's Vanda Miss Joaquim national flower and Peranakan tile motifs.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

What started out as a hobby for Ms Diana Chang, founder of Yumi Active, ended up as a way to help her both personally and professionally.

Ms Chang, who was facing fertility issues when she picked up yoga more than five years ago, says the exercise not only helped her emotionally and gave her more energy, but it also made her aware of a gap in yoga wear for women.

"I felt that a lot of the major sportswear labels didn't represent the Asian woman, they didn't connect with Asian culture and heritage," says the 38-year-old, whose label is one of the latest entrants to the Singapore athleisure wear market.

The chance to create her own all-women's brand catering to the modern and fashion-savvy Asian woman came when she quit her corporate development job three years ago and moved to Jakarta with her husband, an insurance professional.

She began looking for factories in Indonesia and China, but could not find any that were able to produce designs and source quality materials that matched her standards.

"A lot of the factories I approached gave me subpar work. I must have tried more than a dozen factories overseas," she says.

Eventually, she found a factory in Singapore that she was satisfied with. Yumi Active is now one of the few brands here that manufacture athleisure wear locally.

She officially launched the brand this month, after moving back to Singapore with her husband at the start of the year.

Her brand's signature line of workout tights - Blooms Of The East and Heritage Of The East - are printed and sewn locally.

Both lines feature distinctly Asian prints conceptualised by Ms Chang and designed by a team of designers in Singapore and overseas.

The Blooms Of The East collection showcases the famous flowers of different countries, with Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid, being one of the most popular designs.

Prints such as the Japanese sakura and Vietnamese lotus are also available.

The Heritage Of The East range carries exercise tights with designs inspired by Asian culture, from Peranakan tile motifs to Indian henna art.

The two signature lines offer capri-length tights at $95 and full-length ones at $98 online and at her studio space in Joo Chiat Road.

"Many of the first reactions I got were, 'Hey, these tights are really expensive' and I know that," says Ms Chang.

However, she is not worried that her higher prices will turn customers off.

"If I sell them cheaper, my material will be of lower quality. So what's the point?

"I'm targeting financially independent, savvy and modern women. I believe they know quality when they see it. I'm confident that when they try my products, they will know that they are worth buying."

She also orders custom-made fabrics from a Chinese fabric mill.

She says: "The fabric has several features, such as the standard four-way stretch and moisture-wicking capability for most performance fabrics, but it is also very soft to the touch because of the high-quality polyester yarn used.

"There is also an anti-microbial finishing, which helps to prevent bacteria growth on the fabric due to sweat."

Her pieces, she adds, are made so that outfits can "last an entire day" and women can head out in them after their workout or just wear them out for a meal.

She plans to offer more options, such as skorts (skirts with shorts inside) and shorts, targeted at running and other activities.

A distinctive element about her clothes is that the designer's name is printed on the garment's tag.

"I want consumers to know that there was someone, a real person, behind the piece they receive."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2018, with the headline 'Asian-inspired athleisure wear designed for Asian women'. Print Edition | Subscribe