Finding a niche as a mid-range brand

Founded in 2014 by Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Kevin Chia (both left), mid-range label Vivre Activewear stocks athleisure wear at three retail stores in Singapore.
Founded in 2014 by Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Kevin Chia (both left), mid-range label Vivre Activewear stocks athleisure wear at three retail stores in Singapore.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

While many brick-and-mortar retail stores are struggling to attract customers in the age of online shopping, local athleisure brand Vivre Activewear has three retail stores - the latest of which opened at VivoCity in September.

Founded as an online store in 2014 by engaged couple Sylvia Lim and Kevin Chia, the brand was one of the earlier local players to enter the sportswear and athleisure fray, which was, and still is, dominated by major global brands such as Nike and Adidas as well as luxury yoga wear label Lululemon.

Today, Vivre Activewear is one of the largest local players in the growing athleisure wear market.

Mr Chia, 35, who used to be a personal trainer, had encouraged Ms Lim, 29, a marketing executive and yoga lover, to start her own business.

She says: "I think when we started, most athleisure brands were either the really expensive ones from major labels or the really cheap ones from fast-fashion brands.We positioned ourselves as a mid-range brand."

Prices of Vivre Activewear's apparel range from $40 to $80.

The brand's revenue has grown from $20,000 a month in 2015 to $150,000 a month now, its founders said. Its three retail stores are in prime locations, including Wisma Atria and Bugis Junction.

Its designs, all by Ms Lim, are also carried in selected stores in Hong Kong. There are plans to expand into Taiwan and the Netherlands.

The couple say the brand's growth was, in part, fuelled by the rise of the athleisure wear trend.

"Many of our customers, for example, young mothers, opt for tights or other sporty clothing as casual wear because they are comfortable and good for moving around in," says Ms Lim.

Singapore, in particular, stands out as a country that embraces the trend. Mr Chia says: "We see many people wearing tights and sportswear on the streets here, but in places such as Hong Kong, perhaps there is still more of an emphasis on looking formal."

With demand rising, more local brands are entering the market, but Vivre Activewear stays relevant by pushing out new designs each week. Its high-rise performance tights are bestsellers and there are also dresses and hoodies, mostly in solid colours, catering to those who want to wear athleisure apparel outside of the gym.

Mr Chia says: "Over the years, we've seen many brands come and go. Some don't last more than two years. The market is still dominated by the traditional, major sportswear brands so we are all competing for what is already a smaller piece of the market."

Ms Lim adds: "Fortunately, we have the advantage of entering and establishing ourselves in the market early."

Jan Lee


Athleisure market gets active

Asian-inspired athleisure wear designed for Asian women

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2018, with the headline 'Finding a niche as a mid-range brand'. Print Edition | Subscribe