More than just a womenswear brand, Love, Bonito has taken its first step in building a holistic female ecosystem to support essential aspects of the Asian woman’s lifestyle—they have launched an activewear brand named cheak.

This follows the acquisition of Singapore based, women-led activewear brand butter., established in 2020 by Olivia Yiong and Tiffany Chng, who were looking to address a long-standing lack of high-quality affordable activewear with an Asian fit. Chosen to play on the word ‘cheeky’ and represent the brands’ vibrant personas. cheak not only marks this new milestone for both brands, but also amplifies an aligned passion and vision to empower the everyday Asian woman with confidence.

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Dione Song, Rachel Lim, Olivia Yiong, Tiffany Chng
From left: Dione Song, CEO of Love, Bonito; Rachel Lim, Co-founder of Love, Bonito; Olivia Yiong, Co-founder of cheak; Tiffany Chng, Co-founder of cheak. Photo: Courtesy

Here, Dione Song, CEO of Love, Bonito chats to us about supporting women-led brands, the launch of cheak and what to expect from the activewear collection thoughtfully designed with Asian-sensibilities.

How did this marriage between Love, Bonito and cheak come about?

The vision for LB has always been to evolve into a female ecosystem and really become the destination for the Asian woman, within and beyond fashion. We’ve come to realise that we can do that a lot more efficiently through a house of brands, and really reach out to different communities and subcultures of Asian women in a more thoughtful, relevant manner.

Active has been a category that is fast growing—not just here, but globally, and with the pandemic it’s really been growing and accelerating a lot more. I think it’s a category that’s here to stay; it’s so relevant to the consumer in general and our consumer as well. We’ve always been keen to expand into activewear and it’s really the right time diversify into a new category, now that we have solidified and strengthened a bit more of our fashion foundation.

I think there’s also the question of “Why buy versus build?”—it’s rooted in our mission to empower the everyday Asian women. As one of the largest brands in this region, can we also give back and partner up with like-minded, passionate and talented working women—entrepreneurs who are trying to solve a need in the Asian female space? In cheak we felt there was really good alignment, values wise—we understand each other very well. Our community, even our team, were already fans of cheak. Cheak brings something new to the table with a strong, refreshing branding. They’re able to reach out to a different community and a younger generation, while we are able to lend support in terms of scale and distribution.

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Why is building a holistic female ecosystem to empower the everyday Asian woman important to Love, Bonito? How does cheak sit in this ecosystem?

When we think about the ecosystem, there’s a couple of things—one of which is fashion, where we’ve been operating the longest of time but of course, there’s still potential to expand fashion a little bit more in terms of categories and offerings. Cheak represents the next vertical, really expanding further into health and wellness through active wear. It’s really a lifestyle and that’s where cheak comes in. Whether they are shopping online or browsing in our stores, it’s very convenient to just grab something in active—that’s how the customer today shops. It’s about really providing to her; it’s not just a single category or transactional anymore. Can we provide the everyday Asian woman with even more thoughtful offerings for her different life stages?

How do you envision cheak standing out from other activewear labels?

We see it standing out already. I mean look at the colors, right? Honestly, in the active space, you see a lot of dark, muted colors. The name cheak comes from cheekiness and the boldness—why can’t you have fun? It’s not like you put on a different persona the moment you switch into your active gear, so I think in that we see this sassiness and boldness that’s very unique and different versus other peers in the market.

When it comes to the sizing proportions, it’s very similar to how we think about the silhouette and fit to cater to different shapes. That, for us, is something else and very exciting. We’ve tried the product and tested it internally; it’s a very strong product with good quality at a very accessible price point. I think Olivia and Tiffany have done an amazing job at building a very strong community today with strong partnerships as well, having established credibility amongst the local fitness community with their instructor program.

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Tell us about this activewear collection and launch. What can we expect and what are some special features?

We’ve tried to keep it playful and cheeky. Besides the different colors we’re offering, you’ll see that it’s really extremely comfortable, material wise. We’re going from low to high intensity levels with BaseFlex® that is ultra-soft, and BaseCore® that is a bit more stretchy and thicker. There are 12 styles in 7 inclusive sizes from XXS to XXL, and 13 different colours (8 of which are available on Love, Bonito) that really compliment the Asian skin tone.

I think it’s also very interesting that besides catering to the Asian woman, we’re also catering to the struggling moments. I think we’ve done well in terms of the construction, to really think about all these different angles. It’s all very thoughtful and female-centric.

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How did Love, Bonito and cheak come together to find what worked for this collection? How did both brands distill their identities and design sensibilities?

I think with a merger and acquisition it’s very important to still respect what makes the brand unique. For us, it’s really around branding and the eye for colours and everything we’ve been choosing for the collection—cheak has had a lot of autonomy in doing that. We had many working sessions with the broader team; we all met and got to know each other. I think beyond actually producing the product, it’s really more around the culture assimilation and bringing people together.

How would you describe the cheak woman?

Someone who’s bold, sassy, confident and comfortable in her skin.

Shop cheak here or at any Love, Bonito stores.