There isn’t anything ‘casual’ about a ton of business casual outfits. You know it: that awkward walk in narrow pencil skirts, or the form-fitting tailored tops and dresses that won’t stretch and move with you. It’s a compromise we women shouldn’t have to make, and Sabrina Wee of local designer label As Intended believes in that so much that she created a widely loved collection of workwear styles that combine the comfort of athletic wear with the familiar silhouettes of your workwear staples. We speak to Sabrina in this instalment of our Designer Spotlight to find out more.
Hi Sabrina! Could you tell us more about how you got started in fashion, and what inspired you to start your own fashion brand?
Sabrina: Fashion was quite an unexpected step for me as I did my undergraduate studies in Psychology, and kicked off my professional career in strategic planning within the public sector. I remember the excitement of starting my first job and building a professional wardrobe that reflected my career aspirations. However, I vividly recall the disappointment on my first day of work in my pretty but dreadfully uncomfortable work clothes. They were not great for commuting to work, and even worse for sitting long hours at a desk.
As the months went on, I started to get the hang of the work schedule and the company culture, and I began to have two distinct categories for my work uniform – cubicle clothes and presentation clothes. Cubicle clothes were comfortable, perfect for long hours behind the desk, and running the occasional errand. However, cubicle clothes looked simple and didn’t always have the best shape. Presentation clothes projected a more polished image, but were really uncomfortable for getting any work done.
It was clear that there was always a trade-off – wearing an outfit which was either stylish but uncomfortable, or comfortable but bland. As my work grew, I found myself craving a wardrobe that catered to a more blended schedule where I could spend an hour or two presenting and sit comfortably behind a desk – all on the same day.
As a believer in fitness and daily movement, I began to question why I could not have the same technical comfort in the office as I had in the gym. I convinced myself at one point that I was being too fussy until I began to talk to the women around me, who revealed their own issues with workwear as well. Stories of awkward splitting of dresses and skirts while boarding the bus. Walking with slower and smaller steps because of a non-stretch skirt. These limitations to the daily lives of fellow women went against the very nature of how we were born to move.
I personally believe that every successful part of living derives from movement and action, whether it be exploring something new, or making a move in bringing about good change. Indulging in the movement was essential, and so was the ability to adapt to different physical milestones in a woman’s life – from girl to woman, and unexpected physical changes from working out more, or even being a mother. I decided to create an entirely new professional option that allowed women to project their best image and encourage them to stretch their limits.
As Intended was created to redefine the women’s wardrobe with options that not only look great, but feel good, and are easy to care for so that it would never stop you from pursuing the things that matter.
As the Founder of As Intended, what does your day-to-day work at As Intended look like for you? How do you keep As Intended on the right track towards reshaping the future of fashion?
Sabrina: As a small label with big dreams, my day-to-day can be quite varied, ranging from meeting customers, to order fulfilments, and inventory management, to meetings in product development, as well as marketing planning and execution.
At As Intended, we talk to our customers as often so that we can better meet their lifestyles. We also do try-ons and testing on products in development with our customers which is how we managed to get closer and closer to the ideal fit, while not compromising on style or functionality. We believe that clothes should be technically comfortable and stylish so that they feel like they are at their most confident to stretch their limits.
Give us a sneak peek into your typical design process as you start a new collection!
Sabrina: Each collection takes several months to develop because we care a lot about how our customers feel about our clothes, and how our designs accommodate their changing needs and enable them to achieve more.
Every design detail, fabric, and fit are carefully curated for our customers. The process involves intensive research, sketching, planning, testing and refining.
To do that, we deep dive into our customers’ lifestyles, professions, body types, social aspects, and preferences to find out what works best for them.
Business dress codes have evolved over the years. This means that our designs have to constantly evolve too. This drives us to constantly reflect and redefine workwear, incorporating styles and functions that are appropriate today.
As Intended was formerly known as GOYA The Label – what motivated the change in name and direction of your label?
Sabrina: GOYA was a playful acronym to ‘Get Off Your Ass’ because we believe that women should be able to move freely and confidently. However, at a certain point, we felt that it did not best reflect the dynamic lives of our multifaceted customers who were so much more. We wanted to find a name that better explained the benefit we bring as a leading athflow brand.
We thought about why we originally started our label, and it comes back to the fact that we felt women were having to make an unfair compromise between wearing the clothes that look good and the clothes that are comfortable. And when that’s the case, they aren’t free to be their natural selves.
We kept saying to ourselves that wasn’t how it was meant to be, and not how it should be. So, by designing and creating clothes that strike the perfect balance between comfort and catwalk, we are ensuring women can finally be as intended.
As Intended is about the emancipation of the working woman from restrictive traditional office attire. Our mission is to keep up with the dynamic woman and her ambitions, allowing her to transition seamlessly between work and play. As Intended became more befitting to what we set out to achieve.
If you could describe the aesthetic of As Intended’s pieces with 3 words, what would they be?
Sabrina: High-performance, contemporary everyday-wear.
It seems like many of your brand’s fans are raving about the fabric you use for most of your collection. For the uninitiated, could you give us a quick introduction to your most popular types of fabric?
Sabrina: -ai. Lush has a luxurious feel and drape, which makes you feel on top of the world by keeping you cool outdoors and keep warm in an airconditioned environment.
-ai. Buttery Skin feels like your second skin. Its lightweight and cool-to-touch features are perfect for humid weather.
All our fabrics feature four-way stretch, moisture-wicking capabilities, breathable, and are machine-washable!
What is one piece in your collections that you hold closest to your heart? Is there a story behind it?
Sabrina: The Lumi Dress! It flatters your body without feeling restricted, and its clean and sleek style makes it a very versatile piece. You can style it with any other pieces or accessories, dress up or dress down easily depending on the occasion.
We’re proud to partner with As Intended through our Sustainability Alliance. What does this partnership mean to As Intended?
Sabrina: We are excited to be part of the circular economy supported by Style Theory.
We believe there is too much wastage created by poor quality and trend-led clothes that do not fit the lifestyles or styles of the customers. However, we are confident that through Style Theory, more people can discover our brand, ‘live and feel the comfort’ in them, and make better choices when it comes to dressing while playing their part in helping to create a sustainable environment.
Rent As Intended styles with a Style Theory Membership! With the Style Theory Apparel Rental Membership, you get to rent from a collection of 40,000+ apparel pieces, with plans starting from S$79/mth. Download the app and create a free account to explore the Infinite Wardrobe now.