Established in 2010, The Editor’s Market has become a hugely successful homegrown brand.
Its founding team of three come from a mix of design, business and engineering backgrounds.
“Our humble beginnings were operating through pushcarts in Far East Plaza, evolving into smaller format stores under Hula & Co (2005 to 2009), then eventually to bigger format stores under The Editor’s Market,” said co-founder Vivian Low.
Although The Editor’s Market made its entry in the market as a local blogshop, it has since grown into an international fashion brand with 11 global outlets and counting.
Going From Offline To Online
“It’s easy to associate us (as) a blogshop entrant as there were a few brands that built traction during that nascent (e-commerce) period,” said Vivian.
“Business was perhaps simpler because there were few marketing channels and global competition. At that phase, word-of-mouth and customers coming in big groups helped us gain traction at our brick-and-mortar stores.”
However, the 37-year-old stressed that their roots have always been physical stores before they moved on to an omni-channel approach.
They opened their first store at Orchard Cineleisure in 2010 and only started an e-commerce store later, which they started paying attention to in 2017.
“Most prominent local brands started out from online to physical stores. On hindsight, customer acquisition cost could be lower if we had started online earlier,” said Vivian, reflecting on the move.
In terms of struggles in the early days, she cited commonly-faced retailer woes such as supplier and landlord negotiations, HR matters and business overheads.
There were definitely doubts over the longevity of the business and the responsiveness of our supply chain to manufacture fashion pieces.
Unlike e-commerce audience insights such as reach, impressions and demographics, (customer) responses in the early days were fuelled by viral word of mouth.– Vivian Low, co-founder of The Editor’s Market
Today, The Editor’s Market operates on a lean and responsive supply chain.
“Our products are manufactured in small batches so as to reduce the cost and risk of holding too much inventory. Should demand exceed expectations, we will quickly restock the popular pieces,” she elaborated.
“Restocks can be produced and shipped to our stores in under three weeks. Sustainability is a key tenet of the brand and so our demand-driven supply chain is configured to ensure that dead stock is kept at a minimum.”
Pivoting From Multi-Label To In-House Designs
Over the years, The Editor’s Market has evolved over the years as fashion trends shift.
According to Vivian, there was a period of time when The Editor’s Market carried grungy streetwear under ‘Preview’ and multi-label products such as American Apparel, Unif, Jeffrey Campbell and Surface to Air.
This was back when they were still at their former store at Orchard Central.
Sharing more about the store, her husband Spencer, who is the business development director, said that a fire had broken out at that very store in March 2015.
(It) was perhaps the turning point of ‘trial by fire’, both metaphorically and literally. It was a week before the birth of our second daughter, and definitely a trying moment when we were all literally at our wits’ end.
Without much time to sob over spilt milk, we picked ourselves up and switched our multi-label approach to an in-house design approach.– Spencer Wong, business development director of The Editor’s Market
Beyond its design approach, The Editor’s Market also changed up its various pricing tiers for the past decade to a “1-2-3-piece price step”.
Basically, customers get to enjoy a bigger discount when they buy more items. However, this pricing approach has been scrapped since May 2020.
Expanding Its Wings Beyond Apparel
As the business grew, they turned to larger format stores and unique design elements to “avoid a cookie-cutter approach” in an increasingly competitive scene.
For many years, The Editor’s Market have been creating and retailing fashion that is modern, clean and refined.
However, they have since discovered that minimalism is a lifestyle spanning product categories, so they are now looking to carry other products that share their values and aesthetics.
“Keeping our eye on the latest design trends as well as being open to an evolving omnichannel landscape (is what) sets us apart,” stressed Vivian.
“Instead of multiple online marketplace listings, we take pride in curating our offline and online channels to reflect our minimalist sensibilities. We do not zealously follow fashion trends, but focus on creating clothing that is timeless and can be worn season after season.”
Beyond apparel, The Editor’s Market has expanded into retailing lifestyle products as well as launched a sister jewellery brand Afterall along with its own retail store at Wisma Atria.
We do not want to lay paralysed by the COVID-19 lockdown. Somehow, it accelerated the pace of our creative renaissance as The Editor’s Market has long prided itself in creating a modern-day fashion bazaar.
With our anchor of weekly launched fashion pieces, we wanted to introduce products and brands that could shine independently and interdependently on their merits.– Vivian Low, co-founder of The Editor’s Market
According to Vivian, the response has been encouraging so far and the team aspire to come back even stronger with other product extensions in 2021.
Similarly, its accessory brand Afterall will also see more products being launched.
Most recently, Afterall even partnered with local social media personality Andrea Chong to launch a jewellery collection.
Retail Is One Of The Hardest-Hit Sectors By COVID-19
We had a strong 2019 and a good start in the first quarter of 2020 before the onset of COVID-19, which has since left a trail of destruction worldwide. From back of house to front of store, we have felt the impact of reduced local and tourist footfall and receipts.
The silver lining is that our customers are getting acquainted to purchasing online. We are seeing our omni-channel investments payoff even though the pandemic has hit many retailers hard.– Spencer Wong, business development director of The Editor’s Market
He added that their online orders have increased several fold, and they expect this increase to be sustained even after the pandemic subsides.
This is noteworthy because across all their operational markets, physical stores typically make up a large proportion of their overall sales.
“However, over the past five years, we have invested heavily in integrating our online and offline channels so as to make our customer experience seamless,” said Spencer.
For instance, they have iterated their offerings to include online reservations and ‘click and collect’ across their local stores.
If an item happens to be out of stock at a particular location, ‘remote order’ allows a customer to lock in her purchase at the store she is currently browsing, and have another store with her desired item deliver it to her home for free.
Understanding our customers’ needs and reacting fast is a crucial element in our product offerings.
In retrospect, these initiatives have resulted in our online channels gaining an ever-increasing share of overall sales, and this trend has been further accelerated because of changes in consumer behaviour brought on by the pandemic.– Spencer Wong, business development director of The Editor’s Market
Spencer added that the popularity of their online streaming of weekly-launched collection has helped “build trust” between them and their customers.
Growing Into An International Fashion Brand
Vivian refused to disclose revenue figures, but shared that beyond Singapore, The Editor’s Market has expanded overseas to Bangkok and Phnom Penh over the past couple of years.
Currently, The Editor’s Market has seven stores in Singapore, one in Bangkok and three in Phnom Penh.
“We are expecting our franchise in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to open (in) the later part of the 2020,” said Vivian, adding that they are also exploring additional physical retail locations in Singapore.
Sharing a piece of “timeless” business advice, Spencer said that starting a business starts from matching a value proposition to a problem statement, followed by a pursuit that entrepreneurs themselves only understand.
“Entrepreneurs require a huge supply of perseverance to weather the storm, as well as a team that have complementary values and skills.”
Citing a quote, he says that “the details are not the details; they make the product”.
Featured Image Credit: 313@Somerset / The Editor’s Market