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Early bird gains first-mover advantage in Singapore's athleisure market

SINGAPORE – 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 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 like Nike and Adidas and luxury yoga wear label Lululemon.

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

Mr Chia, 35, who used to be a personal trainer, encouraged Miss 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 around $40 to $80.

The brand’s revenue has grown eight times since 2015, its founders say. Its three retail stores are in prime locations, with the other two outlets in Wisma Atria and Bugis Junction.


A model wearing Vivre Activewear’s high rise performance tights – one of its bestselling products – with mesh stripes. PHOTO: VIVRE ACTIVEWEAR

Its designs, which are all done by Miss Lim, are also carried in selected stores in Hong Kong, and there are plans to expand to Taiwan and the Netherlands.

The couple said the brand’s growth was in part fuelled by the rise of the athleisure trend.

“Many of our customers, for example young mothers, opt for tights or other sporty clothing as casual wear because it’s comfortable and good for moving around,” said Miss Lim.

Singapore, in particular, stands out as a country that embraces the trend.

Mr Chia said: “We see many people wearing tights and sportswear on the streets here but in places like Hong Kong, I think perhaps there is still more of an emphasis on looking formal.”

With demand rising, more local brands are joining the market but Vivre Activewear says it stays relevant by pushing out new designs each week.

Its high-rise performance tights are bestsellers but there are also dresses and hoodies, mostly in solid colours, catering to those who want athleisure wear 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.”

Miss Lim adds: “Fortunately, we had the advantage of entering and establishing ourselves in the market early.”

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