Love, Bonito Redefines Fashion: Celebrating ‘Ready-to-Live, not Just Ready-to-Wear’ With Co-founder Rachel Lim

Rachel Lim, Co-founder of Love, Bonito.

Love, Bonito has carved a unique space in the fashion industry. Since its inception, the Southeast Asian womenswear brand has championed inclusivity, designing for the real lives of women across ages and ethnicities. Now, Love, Bonito is taking a bold step forward with their new brand tagline: “Ready-to-live, not just ready-to-wear.” This shift signifies a commitment to crafting timeless, functional pieces that empower women to embrace every aspect of their journeys.

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Intrigued by this evolution, we wanted to delve deeper and chat with the woman behind this inspiring direction: Rachel Lim, co-founder of Love, Bonito.

This interview has been condensed and edited for brevity.

Congratulations on Love, Bonito’s exciting rebrand and new brand tagline, “Ready-to-live, not just ready-to-wear.” Could you share what prompted this shift?

Our new identity comes from a deep understanding of the diverse roles women play. Love, Bonito is more than just about looking good; we want to embrace women’s real lives and create clothes that are versatile for them to navigate their daily tasks. We believe good products should be accessible to all. Our clothes are functionally crafted with comfort, ease of care, and freedom of movement in mind. Additionally, thoughtful details like adjustable straps, elasticated waistbands, and padded busts ensure a perfect fit for various body types. Authenticity is key — we fit our apparel on real women and test them in real-life scenarios, ensuring they perform well in everyday situations.

(L to R): Mya Miller in Mae Tailored Cross Over Top and Lana Relaxed Tailored Pants. Gym Tan in Abigail Trapeze Camisole.

The press release mentions this transformation honors Love, Bonito’s heritage and challenges stereotypes surrounding Asian women. How do your personal experiences influence this evolution?

It all began with BonitoChico, a humble blog shop I founded with a couple of friends. We realized clothes available didn’t cater to our community in terms of fit, style, and preferences. This led us to reshift our focus to design apparel that celebrates the body proportions and tastes of our community. In 2010, it was rebranded to Love, Bonito, and since then, we’ve been journeying with women, leaning into our personal experiences.

We are not simply in the business of fashion, but in the business of empowering women, and we see fashion as a vehicle to connect with women globally. The world often has a narrow view of Asian women. We are much more diverse and complex. We are inspired by real Asian women – multifaceted, full of heart, and surprising. We need clothes that keep up with our lives in all their beauty.

As a female entrepreneur, navigating fashion can be challenging. Can you tell us about a pivotal moment that shaped Love, Bonito’s approach to empowerment?

During the early years, I hit a low point, questioning Love, Bonito’s purpose. Then, an email arrived from a customer who had undergone major skull reconstruction. She shared that our clothes brought her confidence. That email, and many others like it, fueled our purpose. It’s true –  when we know our ‘why,’ we can overcome any ‘how.’

Your brand champions timeless pieces for real women. How does your vision align with your own experiences?

As a working mother of two, I understand the demands of balancing multiple roles. This fuels our commitment to clothes that seamlessly transition women from one aspect of life to another. Each garment is a reflection of real-life experiences. This alignment between our brand’s vision and my values drives us to empower women; to embrace every aspect of their journey with confidence and style.

Consider our Iris Straight Leg Jumpsuit, effortlessly transitioning from a parent-teacher meeting to a dinner date. Alternatively, our Mili Shawl Collared Blazer is sharply tailored for business meetings yet remains the perfect choice for a Sunday brunch, offering versatile options for your wardrobe.

The ‘Signatures’ collection embodies Love, Bonito’s new identity. Can you share how these pieces reflect your vision?

The ‘Signatures’ collection truly embodies our design philosophy. Each piece is crafted for timeless elegance, function, and versatility. We included features like pockets in dresses and skirts, and built-in bust padding for tricky necklines. We address everyday fashion challenges with leg-lengthening, breathability, and machine-wash-friendly features. Our styles are made to be lived in, not just for mirror selfies.

The Nicole Padded Cut Out Midi Dress by Love, Bonito in Black.

Can you share any insights or lessons learned from your entrepreneurial journey that could inspire other aspiring women entrepreneurs?

As an Asian female entrepreneur, I’ve learned vital lessons: ‘know your why’ for resilience and self-assurance, and prioritize self-discovery to align with your passions and strengths. It’s crucial to be fully committed to your dreams amidst external pressures, ensuring a solid anchor during tough times.

Being a mom has also taught me the importance of efficient time management and a positive mindset shift. By reframing challenges as opportunities, I approach them with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Overall, my advice boils down to self-awareness, resilience, and a commitment to continuous learning and improvement. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, stay true to your values, and never underestimate the power of perseverance and determination. With dedication and a clear vision, you can overcome obstacles and achieve success on your entrepreneurial journey.

Looking ahead, what excites you most about Love, Bonito’s future as it embraces this new brand identity? How do you envision the brand continuing to empower and uplift women in the fashion industry and beyond?

I am incredibly excited about Love, Bonito’s future, especially as we continue to deepen our roots in markets where we already have a presence! We’re building an ecosystem, and our vision now is to become the ultimate go-to destination for all women, while staying true to our Asian roots and celebrating cultural diversity. This means really understanding our customers and creating a space where their voices and stories are heard and celebrated. 

In the coming years, we envision Love, Bonito continuing to be a platform for women’s empowerment through continued community engagement and storytelling. We are committed to enriching the experience for our LBCommunity, deepening our connections with local partners, and amplifying the voices and stories of women from diverse backgrounds.

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We believe that incredible women like Rachel Lim should be celebrated every day! Her story and Love, Bonito’s evolution are testaments to the power of women leading the way. Love, Bonito isn’t just fashion; it’s a movement that empowers women to embrace their journeys, defy stereotypes, and live life to the fullest, one perfectly-tailored piece at a time. They inspire countless other women to go make their marks on the world too.

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By MihikaShivkumar

Mihika Shivkumar is a program manager in the tech industry, leveraging her expertise to drive innovation and efficiency. Beyond her … Read more ›