Building the ultimate capsule wardrobe Reading Q&A WITH BALIAWEAR FOUNDER ALVINA LAM 9 minutes

Founder's Journey

Originally from Silicon Valley, California, Alvina grew up in an immigrant family with aspirations of becoming a fashion designer. She defied expectations by shifting from a tech sales career in San Francisco to pursue her dreams. She started as an entry-level Inventory Analyst at Gap Corporate. Eventually, she played a pivotal role in managing the global international strategy from New York City, overseeing teams responsible for Latin American franchise markets. In 2018, Alvina relocated to Miami to embark on her entrepreneurial journey. Armed with her retail industry knowledge, she launched her own clothing brand, Baliawear, with a mission to revolutionize the traditional approach to clothing sizes.

As a female founder in the fashion industry, what motivated you to create a brand centered around versatile luxury resortwear? Was there a personal experience or gap in the market that inspired you?

Being petite all my life, I struggled to find clothing that fit properly, which led me to get creative by modifying my clothes. I noticed a significant gap in the fashion industry, as it didn't address the natural fluctuations in body sizes. My vision was to challenge the norm of having to fit into pre-determined sizes and instead, create a brand that embraces the concept of clothing that fits you, not the other way around. This inspired me to tackle the issue of sizing, starting with a pair of pants I discovered in Bali with a wrap design for a personalized fit. During the sampling process, I realized that I could transform the pants into a jumpsuit, and that marked the beginning of Baliawear.

How would you describe the unique style and vision of your brand? What sets it apart from other fashion labels?

Our brand stands out with two key pillars: a commitment to solving fit issues and a focus on versatility. These principles inherently make our clothing sustainable, empowering women to wear our garments throughout their lives. Our main goal is to inspire women to feel confident, comfortable, and inspired by their purchases. We are also immensely proud to say that all our products are locally crafted in the USA, supporting our community and reducing our environmental impact. By combining impeccable fit, versatile style, and thoughtful craftsmanship, we create clothing that not only looks and feels extraordinary but also inspires women to embrace their true selves and celebrate their individuality.

Versatility is a key aspect of your brand. Could you share some examples or stories of customers creatively styling your resortwear pieces to suit their individual preferences?

At Baliawear, we believe in "clothing that you make your own", and it brings us immense joy to see our #baliababes discovering new ways to wear our designs. It's truly inspiring to see them personalize our pieces, making it their very own. These heart-warming moments fuel our passion for crafting pieces that empower and celebrate the individuality of every #baliababe.

Resort Wear is often associated with vacation or travel. How does your brand cater to the needs of the modern traveler? 

Baliawear is the ultimate pack one and done brand, offering lightweight and versatile pieces that transition effortlessly from day to night, making it ideal for modern travelers. With our luxurious resort wear, you can pack a single item and wear it in multiple ways throughout your vacation, ensuring you're always ready for any occasion.

Can you share the story behind your most iconic or successful piece? What was the inspiration behind it, and how did it resonate with your customers?

Our most iconic piece, the Pant to Jumpsuit, holds a special story behind it. While at a yoga retreat in Bali, I discovered a wrap pant that solved my fit issues and inspired me with its ingenious design. Realizing that many women faced similar sizing challenges, I saw an opportunity to create something unique and elevate the concept to a new level. When I moved to Miami, I transformed the casual piece into a versatile jumpsuit, a moment when I knew I had something special. The instant success of the Pant to Jumpsuit was driven by its "wow-factor," resonating with our customers who appreciated its stylish versatility. This iconic piece became the foundation of our brand and ignited our passion to create even more innovative and unique designs for our customers.

In the era of fast fashion, how does your brand promote slow fashion and encourage consumers to make more sustainable choices?

Our brand takes a strong stance in promoting slow fashion and encouraging consumers to make more sustainable choices. Our unique wrap personal fit design enables women to wear our products throughout various stages of their body, providing long-lasting and versatile pieces. Many of our customers continue to love and wear our clothing even during and after pregnancy! By creating high-quality, sustainable pieces, we ensure that our clothing stands the test of time, reducing the need for constant replacements and minimizing environmental impact. 

With your background working in corporate for a huge fashion conglomerate, what failures did you see in big fashion that you knew you wanted to do differently for your own brand?

From my inventory background, I witnessed unsustainable production practices and a staggering amount of waste produced to fulfill size inventory demands. While sizing is essential for customers, I wanted to approach it differently, not only to benefit the end customer but also to support retailers. I aimed to create a brand with a fresh take on sizing, reducing the need for excessive inventory and markdowns for fringe sizes. Our mission is to be conscious of our production practices and minimize our impact on the planet. We firmly stand for creating beautiful clothes made with a focus on sustainability and ethical practices.

How do you stay attuned to the evolving needs and desires of your customers?

We stay attuned to our customers' evolving needs and desires through constant innovation and regular communication. Whether it's through our customer service department or polls on social media, we actively listen to their feedback and are committed to improvement based on their input. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do! 

Which piece from your brand is your favorite and why?

Choosing a favorite piece from our brand feels like picking a favorite child—it's challenging, but one that stands out as my absolute favorite is the Pant to Jumpsuit. This piece is not only our first creation, but it also ignited our passion for designing more exceptional styles. Another personal favorite is the Wrap Short, its versatility is unmatched, making it a go-to choice for me, especially living in Miami where shorts are a staple. Lastly, I must mention the Infinity One Piece, it was our marketing manager, Valeria's, vision, and together, we poured our hearts into perfecting it. Each of these pieces hold a unique place in my heart, they represent the essence of our brand—a commitment to creating the best possible pieces that celebrate and flatter the female figure.

How do you approach the process of selecting materials and fabrics for your designs? (quality, durability, and environmental impact)

At Baliawear, we prioritize our customers' input when selecting materials and fabrics for our designs. We actively engage with them to understand their preferences and expectations. Being an all-female run company, we personally wear and test the new products to ensure they meet our high standards of quality, durability, and comfort. By sourcing fabrics from multiple US suppliers and incorporating customer feedback, we aim to deliver the best, most sustainable products to our valued customers.

How do you stay creative and innovative in an industry that is constantly evolving?

We remain dedicated to nurturing our creativity and fostering innovation. As a unique brand, our focus lies in consistently offering our customers versatile, well-fitted, and beautiful pieces. Rather than following trends set by others, we prioritize authenticity and stay true to our brand identity. This approach has earned me the nickname "Fashion Scientist" from a colleague, recognizing the precision and artistry involved in creating truly versatile garments. By embracing this spirit of perpetual innovation, we aspire to push the boundaries of creativity and consistently deliver exceptional experiences to our valued customers. 

What advice would you give to aspiring fashion entrepreneurs who want to start their own brand? What are the key lessons you've learned along the way?

For aspiring fashion entrepreneurs, my advice is to learn as much as you can from others before diving into starting your own brand. It's also essential to keep your budgets tight and meticulously track your numbers, staying on top of your finances is vital for the success of your brand. Remember, you can't do everything yourself. As your business grows, consider hiring professionals to handle specific aspects of the business, allowing you to focus on its growth and expansion. Don't be discouraged by challenges, as they are opportunities for growth and learning.

What are your future aspirations and goals for your brand? Are there any new innovations on the horizon that you can share with us?

Our future aspirations for Baliawear are to innovate designs for all shapes and sizes, making our brand accessible everywhere. We aim to partner with cruise ships and televised shopping networks to showcase our unique clothing experience. Additionally, we are committed to addressing the underserved plus-size market by creating beautiful pieces that empower women to feel confident in what they wear. Our focus on innovation and inclusivity will remain at the heart of our brand's journey. 



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