Like most of us, Tony K Tan used the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect on his life. As an experienced investment banker who had wanted to pursue postgraduate studies in social entrepreneurship, he found himself contemplating the human psyche “to do something better”. This led him to Smthgood (short for “something good”).
“Conscious fashion offers a more ethical and sustainable alternative to the negative social and environmental impacts of fast fashion,” he observes.
Smthgood is a profit-for-purpose social commerce platform that helps users look good, do good, and feel good. It features apparel and accessories from small- to medium-sized conscious fashion brands from across the Asia-Pacific. To make the experience more inspiring, Smthgood has a Lookbook Styling Tool, which enables users to create different #ootds with their favourite products and share these styling ideas.
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Through the platform, Tan hopes to build and empower a community to fight climate change. The fashion industry, after all, is partly responsible for the 70 million tons of trees felled every year to produce fabrics such as fabric and rayon.
Smthgood also plans to purchase 1,000 carbon credits a year. This helps to remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere equivalent to more than 47,000 trees (or recycling 43,000 bags of waste).
The awareness of carbon credits is increasing, especially with Singapore positioning itself to be a core carbon credit exchange venue. I believe such an awareness can and should be broad-based. This is why we chose carbon credit offset as our core programme to play our small part in increasing its awareness in this part of the world.
His background in private credit financing has given him an edge in this entrepreneurial adventure. He explains that successful companies give their users what they want, not what they think they want.
Smthgood’s strategy and features, such as the Lookbook Styling Tool, are based on macro trends identified and refined through a commissioned survey of 500 savvy female online shoppers.
Smthgood officially launches in January 2023, and Tan has a list of things to do: “We are continually refining our product market fit, geographical focus, and monetisation strategies based on feedback from users and sellers, as well as referencing hard analytics, all while focusing on doing good.”
Fashion has a bad rep when it comes to sustainability. How do you want Smthgood to affect positive change?
Fashion has a lot of room to improve when it comes to using sustainable, long-lasting materials, decreasing carbon footprint, and bringing positive impact to communities. Change is an evolving process. Rather than preaching to our users about changing their behaviour, we want to engage them in discovering conscious fashion. By offering several ways to put an outfit together, our user generated Lookbooks show that conscious fashion can be stylish too.
Smthgood supports small and medium-sized fashion brands across the Asia Pacific that focus on advocating a more sustainable industry. We seek to be a specialised marketplace for these brands, so they don’t get lost in the crowd.
Rather than preaching to our users about changing their behaviour, we want to engage them in discovering conscious fashion.
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Smthgood works with more than 60 brands. What factors do you consider when selecting a partner?
Brands must be able to meet one or more of the following requirements: Their products should be made from eco- friendly, sustainability-focused, recycled or upcycled materials; They must be ethically and sustainably produced, hand-made or made to order; They should have a positive impact on community engagement, giveback, and empowerment.
It is challenging to pick favourites as every brand has such interesting stories to tell. In particular, I am impressed by Thamon (Thailand), which manufactures bags from fallen leaves, Outfyt (Singapore) for its activewear made from fishnet and fabric scraps, and Rupahaus (Australia), a brand created by three sisters bound by their passion for sustainability.
Your interest in human behaviour seems to be a theme throughout your career and passions. What do you find most fascinating about Smthgood?
Consumers will become even more discerning in their purchasing choices. Prices remain a key consideration, but they are more willing to choose conscious and sustainable products and support brands that go beyond profits.
In the meantime, consumer buying continues to evolve. Instead of a purely transactional experience, they are moving towards one led by purpose, discovery, inspiration, and personalisation. Consequently, transparency and the meticulous curation of brands are even more crucial for Smthgood.