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Modern Fashion: Howard Chou of Halara On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today

An Interview With Candice Georgiadice

Being passionate for something is special. Being passionate with a team is even more rare. When you find both, run with it! Believe in the power of passion and teamwork, and the positivity that comes with it. It’s infectious.

Many in the fashion industry have been making huge pivots in their business models. Many have turned away from the fast fashion trend. Many have been focusing on fashion that also makes a social impact. Many have turned to sustainable and ethical sourcing. Many have turned to hi tech manufacturing. Many have turned to subscription models. What are the other trends that we will see in the fashion industry? What does it take to lead a successful fashion brand today?

In our series called, “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today” we are talking to successful leaders of fashion brands who can talk about the Future of Fashion and the 5 things it takes to lead a successful fashion brand in our “new normal.”

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Howard Chou, Director of Branding & Consumer Insights at Halara.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I grew up in the East suburbs of Auckland, surrounded by beaches and greenery. As the overweight little Asian kid, I was often bullied and didn’t have too much confidence. I would always be one of the last few runners to reach the finishing line when we had sports day. When my mom began to notice, clever as she is, she asked if I would like to enroll in an after-school sports program. My confidence and competitive spirit began to elevate as I found focus and motivation through sport, which eventually led me to playing professional badminton for New Zealand.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

There are photos of myself choosing specific outfits to wear at the age of 2. I have always been drawn to fashion, how it makes us feel, how creativity and functionality co-exist, how colors that aren’t a match-made in heaven can be redefined when textiles and silhouettes come into play. I enjoy it and I live by it.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In my previous role at adidas, we were invited to the adidas HQ in Herzogenaurach, Germany. This experience really broadened my knowledge and understanding of how a brand can grow and the hard work that came from it — from Adolf (“Adi”) Dassler’s early years of trial-and-error to becoming a global leading sportswear company. We also had the pleasure of seeing many original and iconic designs created by Dassler himself, which was very intriguing.

You are a business leader. Which three character traits do you think are instrumental to your success?

Passion — work can just be work but working with passion means you believe in what you’re doing. I’m a sports person, but also a fashion person, so being able to help build-up a brand that involves both really motivates me.

Creativity — ironically, I don’t consider myself a very creative person, but amongst logic and practicality, I try to find that “peep-through” that showcases my thoughts and originality based on experiences, what I care about, and what I believe in.

Courage — I’m sure many people have struggles with stepping outside of their comfort zone, but when we do, it really helps to build us up. I have worked in various industries — some which were totally out of my comfort zone — but allowed me to experience specific knowledge and learnings that cultured me with ideas, methods, and strategies that I now channel into various parts of my life.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Halara is really redefining athleisure clothing. To create products that are affordable and accessible, and not falling into the category of “fast-fashion” is very challenging, but Halara is making it possible. By focusing on quality clothing that is durable in fabric and timeless in style, Halara provides customers with something that you can wear to work out, to hang out, to wear today, but also wear next year. Sport and leisure are things for everyone to enjoy, but what makes it better is that you don’t have to spend great amounts of money to look good while doing it, and that is where Halara comes in.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Whatever’s meant to be, will work out perfectly” — Avril Lavigne

I used to push, and sometimes force myself, to do things that really did not have any purpose, but only because other people saw it as something of value. I no longer do that. It’s not about pleasing everyone, but about accepting yourself, and whatever’s meant to come your way will do so.

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

Apart from facemasks becoming accessories and old 2000 trends making a comeback, I think the development of 3D Printing for fashion is something to look forward to. 3D Printing could have its possible advantages of saving time and money, customization, but also contributing to sustainability that could change the entire industry’s model of production.

Can you share how your brand is helping to bring goodness to the world?

Halara means “take it easy” in Greek. We inspire our audience with the positivity of being themselves, being unique, being original, and being beautiful. When day-to-day routines become repetitive and uninspiring, Halara hopes to encourage everyone to take a step back, and make time to take it easy through leisure, sport, and lifestyle. Our slogan “Play it My Way” should be everyone’s call to action — to move my way, to dance my way, to love my way, and to fight my way. We empower our community to be who they want to be and have the confidence to feel good in their own skin.

Can you share with our readers about the ethical standards you use when you choose where to source materials?

At Halara, we’re very aware of how much we should produce. Our factories only begin to produce items once our Product & Marketing Team have conducted research that give can us reliable insight into how much we should produce for inventory. Also, we minimized waste by reusing fabric scraps to make scrunchies that we gave away free to our customers to spread awareness for sustainability.

Fast fashion has an advantage, that it is affordable for most people, but it also has the drawback that it does not last very long and is therefore not very sustainable. What are your thoughts about this? How does your company address this question?

Fast-fashion is an issue that is adding pollution to our world. To prevent fast-fashion consumerism, Halara designs products that are made to be durable, timeless in style, and versatile for everyday wear so that customers can enjoy their products for the long-term and hopefully also take on the Halara mindset and goals for sustainability.

What are your “5 Things You Need to Lead a Successful Fashion Brand”. Please share a story or example for each.

  • Positivity (from the inside-out) — Being a start-up brand involves a lot of manpower and hard work, but when the team understands and is focused on the overarching goals, we feel excited and positive about what we are doing. Positivity is not only something that is infused in our work culture, but also a value that we convey to our audience through brand representation, inclusion, and diversity.
  • Curiosity — Being curious helps to keep our mind running. When we question our plans and strategies, we become open to more possibilities and often opportunities too. A constant desire to improve and learn is what allows us to see things from different angles.
  • Passion — The passion one owns can really be the determining factor of success. Within our team, passion comes from various aspects: the motivation to build a brand and business that transcends borders, the fulfillment of how our brand caters to our audience and responds by providing them with what they need, and the enjoyment and love of fashion, sport, and lifestyle as elements that can generate positive influence on people.
  • Creativity via Data — At Halara, creativity comes from the analysis of data and research. Our decisions are based on proof of statistics and information gathered from prior experience with our customers and the industry. When we look at the feedback and reviews given by our customers, we take it to heart and respond by creating something new and improved that helps to answer their concerns.
  • Teamwork — There is literally no “I” in team.

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

I think it is important to remember what your brand represents, the roots, the story, and the goal. In the current stage, Halara is simply focused on creating affordable, great-quality clothing for all women (and hopefully soon for men!) — and we will continue to strive for this in the long-run.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The Halara Way — we hope to inspire our members to become a diverse community that is passionate, healthy, positive, and all one-of-a-kind.

How can our readers further follow you online?

@halara_official on Instagram

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Modern Fashion: Howard Chou of Halara On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.