Every now and then, we’ll come across inspiring stories of individuals who have taken the road less travelled to follow their dreams. Chua Sihui is one of them. The 31-year-old was working at beauty brands such as Lancôme and Parfums Christian Dior when she decided to go back to school to learn the ropes of fashion design and development. “I’ve always desired to work in fashion, and doing something creative and being hands-on,” Chua said of her decision to switch careers. And hher, a four-month-old label that focuses on reinterpreting wardrobe essentials, is the fruit of her labour.
With an interesting moniker that combines the common female pronoun and an alphabet from her own name, Chua’s intention to conceptualise garments that celebrate femininity couldn’t have been more obvious. As such, hher’s debut collection is filled with ruffled blouses, utilitarian skirts and functional dresses that are rooted in classicism, further setting the tone for a label that also emphasises on tailoring and the use of quality materials sourced from Europe, Japan and South Korea. In this interview, Chua shares everything you need to know about, well, hher.
Everything happens for a reason—Chua’s previous stints at beauty brands helped pave the way for her new role.
“From gaining marketing experience to learning about the business like setting sales targets, forecasting of products, negotiating with retailers and buyers, and understanding the retail landscape in Singapore, all of these have informed my process of shaping hher. When I was at Parfums Christian Dior, I worked on fragrances and it was a division that involves a lot of storytelling. I learnt the importance of having a story and a good concept for everything. I’ve also made some great friends along the way, be it influencers, celebrities or makeup artists. Some of them have been very supportive of what I’m doing, and I’m very thankful for that.”
She’s built the first collection like a prelude that introduces the brand’s DNA.
“Titled “Get to know hher”, the debut collection is inspired by a persona—what she likes, what she does, how she dresses and what’s her lifestyle like. We’ve also shot a series of images called “hher things” that features objects that builds the story even further. It’s almost like a teaser of what you can expect from the brand in the future. We’ve chosen to present the first collection across six themes, such as “Everyday White”, “Laidback Denim” and “Quirky Checks”.
Sustainability is a topic close to Chua’s heart.
“There’s a shift towards sustainability and I am a strong believer in slow fashion. I believe in consuming less, and choosing to invest in quality pieces that are timeless, made using good fabrics and are well-constructed. This has influenced the ethos of hher. We are always striving to be more sustainable and to reduce our carbon footprints as much as possible. Right now, we produce our collections in smaller quantities and try to use fabrics that are in surplus (dead stock fabrics) in as many ways as we can. In the future, we may also look at producing capsule collections made from entirely organic fabrics.”
The road to launching her own brand hasn’t been easy, but she’s glad she did it anyway.
“It’s been a tough but fulfilling journey. I have no regrets. I didn’t have much experience and contacts in the industry, so I had to build everything from scratch. Finding the right manufacturers, suppliers and fabrics took me quite a while. However, it feels amazing each time I’ve done something right. The process has taught me to be stronger—both mentally and emotionally. As with any other businesses, there are days filled with setbacks and moments of self-doubt. I’ve learnt to better manage my stress levels and emotions, and not let them affect me too much!”