Options: Congratulations on Wardrobe’s new diffusion line, Bajuu. Tell us more about it.
Fang Heng Lim: Bajuu was launched on June 7 this year and is an evolution of what was our first foray into the digital sphere, where we explored new ways of doing business with a new set of targeted customers. What started at the height of the pandemic as an online brand of tailored shirts didn’t take off and we had to shelve it. I am not one to concede so I looked at what lessons I could learn from that experience. So, with Bajuu, we kept its DNA pretty simple. First, we have a substantial amount of ready-to-wear offerings, more than our main brand, Wardrobe. There are shirts, trousers, blazers, suits and even T-shirts upon which we apply our tailoring expertise so they can be positioned as artisan tailored ready-to-wear. We also present greater value to our customers by offering precise alteration services as well as our Easy Custom option, such as colour, pattern, vents, buttons and linings, without the need for any other measurements or fittings. All this with a wait time of less than 10 days and an accessible price point.
It’s also a cute name, using the Malay word for clothing but with an extra “u”.
We started off with brand agencies proposing a variety of English or international-sounding names. But then we figured it is high time we have the courage to create a brand name that truly resonates with our true identities — a name that’s uniquely us, Malaysian and with an edgy spin to it. It is just a play of letters of the alphabet but it’s easy to understand and pronounce. Therefore, Bajuu it is!
Who is a Bajuu customer?
Young graduates entering the workforce and needing corporate attire, specifically their first suit. Also young executives who are driven, highly opinionated, have a more refined taste in style, and are willing to invest in quality clothing that is aligned with their professional image and values. Urban folk who lead fast-paced lifestyles and seek versatile, fashionable attire that can seamlessly transition from work to play. Basically, anyone who needs fashion choices that reflect the cosmopolitan and dynamic nature of city life.
Your father, Lim Jit Jun, created Spark Manshop in 1978, together with A F Chai and K C Phuan. What have been the best business lessons he taught you?
Two lessons, in particular, stand out for me. The first is to always stay grounded and be a good human being. Never cheat, shortchange or harm others. Value relationships as you never know when you need the help of others. The second is to uplift the team and your people first. Create a progressive environment and culture that works towards a better standard of living for all within the company. I have one lesson to add, though, which is from my own observations. Focus on doing something extremely well. We are in our 44th year of business now and this is simply the result of being single-minded in our core strength, which is tailoring.
What was your original ambition? You studied something completely different at university.
You are right. I studied golf management to begin with, and then business management and marketing. I had wanted to be a professional golfer, you know. It was the Tiger Woods era then — his early years. But, of course, that career idea didn’t happen. If I could rewind time and do it all over again, I would have picked architecture.
What is your personal style like?
Very varied. Most of my friends would say I have two distinct personalities. At work, it’s all sharp suits, well-tailored shirts and trousers. Towards the end of the week, I enjoy crafting a whole new spin on what tailored garments can mean, like baggy suits, shirts and pants, for example. Off-work, I’m very casual … basic yet street. I grew up with skate culture and music like heavy metal, grunge, rap and rock. You could say I enjoy counter-culture and forming my own idea of what my universe is while blocking out what seems absurd to me.
What are your favourite sources of inspiration?
I read a lot and listen to podcasts. I also like learning new skills and having different experiences. I enjoy travelling with those I am close to, discovering things that are yet to become mainstream. I enjoy walks in nature, journal and meditate regularly. I also allow my mind to wander a few layers deep, questioning what I observe around me. When I really need fresh ideas, I will again walk in nature while saying a short message to the universe, seeking its blessing, and letting the dots of my subconscious form connections which in turn transform into thoughts and ideas. That’s my way.
Who, in your opinion, embodies great style and why?
A rather challenging question but if I had to pick, I would say the actor Daniel Craig — but only when he’s in a suit. On the local fashion front, it would be [politician] Khairy Jamaluddin. And not because he wears suits from Wardrobe, mind you. You have to admit that he is always very well dressed.
If you could only pick three things to give a fresh injection of style to your look, what would they be?
Black jeans as, at this point in my life, I am still searching for the perfect pair. This is my life’s quest. The second would be the perfect white T-shirt which I have also yet to find. It has to be made of cotton, luxurious on the skin, ideally cut, not oversized and yet not slim-fit. The third would be a blazer. A good blazer does wonders for anyone.
And what is your favourite go-to look of all time?
The blue suit. You can be a big boy about it by wearing both a blazer and trousers together. Or separate them to create many dressed-down looks. It is super convenient, not to mention stylish.
This article first appeared on Sept 18, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.