A CONVERSATION WITH Crissy Zhang, FOUNDER OF FASHION BOUNDARY

Fashion Boundary – the innovative platform for talented designers to promote their brand in a supportive, collective space

Fashion Boundary is an online fashion retailer founded in 2019 that unite independent designer labels under one roof to showcase their unique pieces. Fashion Boundary is a platform for talented designers to promote their brand in a supportive, collective space.

We’re tired of seeing trends come and go and constantly keeping up with ‘what’s in’. That’s why we’ve ditched contending with fast fashion and decided to focus on good quality, interesting, wearable and timeless pieces.

– fashion boundary

Fashion Boundary’s mission is to support emerging designers and independent labels. They collaborate with designers from all over the globe who dedicate themselves to their trade. Browsing through Fashion Boundary you will find a curated collection of clothing, handbags, shoes and jewellery from a variety of brands both small niche labels and popular big brands. Overall, we advocate slow, stylish and sustainable fashion. 

”AT FASHION BOUNDARY WE SOURCE LABELS WHO VALUE ETHICAL MEANS OF PRODUCTION AND STRIVE TO USE SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS. WE WANT TO OFFER OUR CUSTOMERS PIECES THAT ARE OF THE BEST QUALITY, MADE TO LAST AND ARE A BETTER CHOICE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.”

Crissy Zhang, Founder of https://fashionboundary.com

A TALK WITH CRISSY ZHANG, FOUNDER OF FASHION BOUNDARY

When did Fashion Boundary start and why did you feel the necessity to create a movement + an online multi-label e-commerce business? 

Fashion Boundary came from a concept I had in my mind for years, and we registered our company in Melbourne in late 2018, but it formally set sail in June 2019.  

I was tired of seeing trends come and go and constantly keeping up with ‘what’s in’. I brought together a small team and decided to ditch contending with fast fashion and instead, focus on good quality, interesting, wearable and timeless pieces. There’re so many beautiful one-of-kind products and unique designs that aren’t exposed to a wide audience. That’s where Fashion Boundary comes in. 

People’s lifestyle is changing and shopping behaviour is transforming. More and more people have switched to online shopping from a mobile phone for convenience and ease, especially during COVID-19. It’s important for us to keep up with the needs of our customers and give them great user-experience. 

How did you create a globalized business model as Fashion Boundary?

Nowadays the Internet has changed our life dramatically and multiple social media platforms are powerful to target the audiences we would like to reach. People’s shopping behaviour is constantly changing and especially the younger generation as new technologies allow for new possibilities. We believe there is a group of people who are searching for unique designer products even if the brand is based on the other side of the world. Fashion Boundary began as a small company with a niche audience but a globalised business all the same.

Our website is our virtual online store. We invested lots of time and effort to create our website to be accessible, trusting and visually clear. By designing and developing WeChat mini-program, we are able to reach 1.1 billion WeChat consumers especially the global Chinese millennials who make up a large chunk of our audience. 

We introduced payment options such as PayPal and AfterPay and soon will launch Alipay for the website. Our mini-app offers a simple and safe WeChat payment for global Chinese customers. These payment systems have built trust between consumers and online retailers, that give customers more confidence in global online shopping. 

Crissy Zhang, Founder of FASHION BOUNDARY

How do you manage the selection process exactly? What are you looking for when you need to choose a brand to be part of Fashion Boundary? 

Brand curation is such an important part of our Fashion Boundary e-Boutique business. We curate a selection of high-quality products for our global customers who live and breathe independent brands. When we select designer pieces, we choose beautiful, unique and wearable items that we know our customer will love. We believe that good quality pieces should be cherished and taken care of. 

When we research new brands we’re looking for quality products. We ask ourselves, would our customer wear it? Is it in her price range? It is new and exciting? Has it been sustainably produced? Where is it made? Each brand is considered, researched and discussed whether it aligns with our values.

We look at the founder/co-founder’s profiles and stories, to understand their missions and values. By launching our Designer Talks, we will let our customers understand more about the interesting story behind each brand. 

We also look at the development of the brand. We want to understand more about their marketing strategy and exposure level. Our ideal young brands would be around 3-5 years in the market. 

Pure Mirror was co-designed with the head designer of Thou Art and yourself. What is the best memory of this experience?

The uniqueness of this collection was cross-border cooperation created by me, a designer who has a strong interior design background and Thou Art’s co-founder/design director Jianyu who was educated from Fashion Institute of Technology New York. The concept of this capsule collection inspired by both interior and fashion industry, which was fun. We aimed this collaboration we would go deep into the product level, and we believe the collision of cultural inspiration from different fields stimulated the birth of innovative new products.

The collaboration was smooth. We respected each other and listened to what each other had to say. A lot of communications and brainstorms during the process. I remembered we discussed a little detail of a design for hours until 1am. 

In an attempt to be more environmentally friendly for this collection, we both were heavily involved the fabric selection. A tip I’ve learnt from him how to test the fabric composition by burning, soaking and washing. The collaboration was a great opportunity for me to leverage more skills from another designer in the industry.

What is your biggest motivation to create as well Fashion Boundary Label? 

To create our own brand is a concept that I had for years in my mind, and I always want to create a brand with our own soul, identity, values, ideologies and characteristics. 

Fashion Boundary Label plans to be a commercial brand with a series of collections including our capsule collections which will be on the mid-high range. Our next collection will begin with 25 styles and continue from there in the future. This collection has been designed by our in-house design team inspired by architecture, interiors, art, nature and travel. Fashion Boundary Label will have its own website, identity and branding separate to Fashion Boundary e-boutique.

What’s the main impact of social media in fashion industry in both ways, fashion buying and digital marketing, for your brand? 

Social media is extremely important and has a very big impact in regard to digital marketing for our brand. It allows us to access a larger audience through influencers and it a cost-effective way to market and communicate to our customers.

Another way social media works in our favour of the Fashion Boundary e-boutique is actually a platform for building our featured brands and fashion buying. Instagram, in particular, allows us to find unique brands from around the world and connect with them directly.

What is your favourite and NON-favourite part about being part of the fashion industry? Can you tell us how your creative + multi-label platform makes a difference in fashion industry?

My favourite part is to be part of the creative community and be able to have a chance to engage with so many talented designers/founders during our brand curation process for our Fashion Boundary eBoutique business. By preparing our Designer Talks and Brand Stories, I really do enjoy interviewing each designer which allows me to learn from each of them. 

Non-favourite part probably is the speed of fashion industry, it is too fast especially for fast fashion brands. Fast fashion can cause a large number of chemical substances to seep into the natural environment, causing serious pollution problems.

The concept of Fashion Boundary is to create a digital marketplace curates brands that focus on slow fashion. The difference compares with other online retailers that most of our partnered brands are small-scaled production, made-to-order, handmade products, biodegradable garments or vegan leather and etc. Maybe this is our first step to be more sustainable. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a brand when is the moment to be part of a multi-label platform like Fashion Boundary?

I think the biggest challenge for a brand is awareness. It is not always easy for customers to know about your brand if you don’t put in money and effort to place yourself in front of them. It’s also challenging to have such a large number of brands on board and not lose sight of promoting Fashion Boundary rather than each brand itself. 

We have some brands are selling very well, that is because the brand has a good awareness or they’ve already established for a while, and customers have built a trust for their products and come to us because of the brand. 

Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in few words.

Slow fashion, fair trade, environment friendly sourced materials and small production.

How do you think sustainable can play an important role in the fashion industry, especially in buying field?

Sustainability is such a big word that involves the entire ecological chain. It is new and also a trend in the fashion industry, and it also became a new challenge for many brands. There’re probably no brands can say they are 100% sustainable because it’s not easy to tick all the boxes. But it’s great to see there’re many brands (established brands or emerging brands) start to be more environmentally conscious or start to act to do their own parts. It will take time to change, step by step. 

Customers’ shopping behaviour is transforming, and more and more consumers will start to care about where the product made of and made from. As an online retailer, I think to understand the whole process of brand creation, from the design process to production is the key. To understand the storytelling behind each brand, to understand their value, as well as how they are produced. So most of our partnered brands are small-scaled production, handmade by artisan, made-to-order or produced by sustainable materials. 

What do you think was the biggest challenge for you for a start-up like Fashion Boundary?

As a start-up entrepreneur, the biggest challenge for me was creating a new business outside of my comfort zone and previous skill set. So, I am constantly learning new things very quickly to broaden my skills, that will allow me to understand the methods for easier communication with industry experts. 

Lucky for me, I have two business partners for Fashion Boundary eBoutique and Fashion Boundary Label businesses, and they are experts in finance & accounting and IT industry. Our skill sets are such an advantage for us to move fast and achieved our targets in 1-year time. 

We know you have a lot of experience in architectural projects as well. Do you think architecture is related to fashion? If yes, in which way?

Designing is a universal language that can be transferred across creative industries. Solid design education and experiences were a big bonus for me when I started this fashion eCommerce business. Building a business is never an easy task, the skills I developed in my interior designer journey especially my personal aesthetic was helpful for our brand curation and creative direction. 

“Fashion is architecture. It is a matter of proportions.” So said the great Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. To be sure, the two industries are similar. Both start from a design plan and are built.

Designers and architects create structures that we live in. Their designs are a reflection of what society needs and wants and in some ways, tell a story. It’s no wonder that a number of history’s greatest fashion designers such as Pierre Balmain, Tom Ford, Gianni Versace, and Pierre Cardin studied architecture. 

How smart-working can play an important role for Fashion Boundary?

I designed Fashion Boundary with globalised business model. We introduced agile working methodology at the beginning of the journey. We had to engage with global designers with different time zone, so video conference, email, Instagram messages and WeChat became key contact tools for us to communicate with each other easily.

Our internal team have flexible and remote working style, and we are all working everywhere and available anytime. We have zoom meetings for brainstorming at night, or if I have any fresh ideas I will send a quick email to the team at 2pm. No matter where we are and we always keep each other updated with company’s moving. 

WWW.FASHIONBOUNDARY.COM

https://fashionboundary.com