Southeast Asian women’s fashion brand Love, Bonito is thinking big, with plans to expand overseas and grow its merchandise assortment, helped by its new $50 million Series C round of financing led by Primavera Capital Group.
The financing will allow the brand to bolster existing omnichannel business and “supercharge international expansion in markets that collectively are experiencing triple digits year-on-year (YoY) growth,” the company said. Those key markets include Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines and the U.S. The company said it is also exploring categories outside of fashion as part of a plan to create a female ecosystem.
“I am more excited than ever for what is to come in the next decade,” Love Bonito’s co-founder Rachel Lim said. “The growth we see today would not have happened without #TeamLB and our #LBCommunity who consistently strive to support women in the different seasons of their lives. Being in the business of women has been our mission since day one, and we are finally venturing outside of fashion to bolster our offerings.”
Plans are in place to expand its fashion assortment to include active apparel and accessories, the company said. The brand is also looking to venture into a content platform and new categories that include wellness. The expansion strategy will be driven by data and community feedback from existing platforms and the soon-to-be-launched artificial intelligence that will enable Love, Bonito to deliver personalization at scale. The existing platforms include LBCommunity+, the company’s loyalty program, and LBCreate, its social impact program.
“We have built a strong foundation in understanding the everyday Asian woman in order to be pre-emptive in catering to her needs,” Dione Song, Love, Bonito’s CEO, said. “We are primed to become a true life partner for our community of women, in and beyond fashion. We have yet to see a womenswear brand from the region stand proud on the world stage amongst industry heavyweights and we want to be the first brand to achieve that, by being purpose-driven, community-focused and innovative.”
Lim and sisters Viola and Velda Tan co-founded the vertically integrated fashion brand in 2010. The friends were already working on their blog in Singapore on secondhand fashion. While initially blogging on international brands, the three started work on in-house designs aimed at producing fashion that better fit Asian women.
The business now counts Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia as its key Southeast Asian markets. It also has a presence in the East Asian market of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, and operates in Australia and the U.S.
The company said the business has achieved overall growth of over 120 percent year-over-year growth in international markets, and overall 208 percent online growth. Love, Bonito also believes that the Asian communities have extremely high potential, particularly in the “U.S., where online revenue growth exceeded 1,200 percent YoY as of September 2021.”
“Love, Bonito has proven itself to be a one-of-a-kind, purpose-driven brand for women across all life-stages. Consumers are drawn by what the brand stands for and its mission to empower women around the world. Primavera is deeply impressed by how much the team has achieved over the last decade and looks forward to tapping into our understanding and experience in the global consumer sector to help elevate Love, Bonito to the next level,” lead investor Primavera said in a statement.
The Series C fundraising round included participation from Adastria and Ondine Capital. Existing Love, Bonito investors include Openspace Ventures and Kakaku.com, a Japanese internet media firm that provides price comparison services.
“From day one, we believed in what the brand could achieve as a business led by women, for women. We are thrilled to now work alongside esteemed investors like Primavera to help write the brand’s next chapter,” Openspace, Love, Bonito’s first institutional investor, said in a statement.
Kakuku was Love, Bonito’s lead investor in the company’s Series B round. It said it will “continue to support the brand’s data and tech strategies, especially on their entry into the Japanese market.”
Despite the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, some fashion brands have been able to attract the attention of investors to garner financing to expand their core operations. Most recently was Spanx, which last week sold a majority stake in the company to private equity firm Blackstone. Another was performance apparel brand Vuori, which in secured a $400 million investment from SoftBank Vision Fund 2, giving the company a $4 billion valuation. And last month, Shark Tank alumni Jiake Liu and Terry Lin closed on a $50 million Series B investment round with Capital Today for Outer, their outdoor furnishings company. In the secondhand luxury platform space, B Corp Vestiaire Collective raised $209.2 million last month in a financing round backed by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Generation Investment Management.