This time around we take a look at OxWhite, for our Startup Of The Month segment which looks at businesses within Malaysia.

A white shirt is the barest essential every man should have in his wardrobe. It is not only versatile when it comes to pairing the shirt with other items of any colours he has available, it also is suitable for any occasion he has to attend during the day or night, formal or casual.

That being said, a white shirt is also the most difficult piece of clothing to purchase: there always seems to be something missing when you try one on in the fitting room. It is either of low quality and would start appearing translucent after a couple of washes, or it just does not sit right with the physique from the shoulders to the arms, from the chest to the abdomen.

Founder of OxWhite CK Chang

Most Malaysians would overlook these inconveniences, and just settle for the lesser of two evils until it is time to throw it out for a new one, (probably just three months down the road). Others who are more conscious of such bothers, would step into a proper luxury fashion store for the once to get a made-to-measure white shirt, ring up an extensive price on the credit card, and hope he doesn’t have to worry about this little problem for the next few years.

These are the drawbacks CK Chang noticed prior to kickstarting OxWhite two years ago. He was working in the watch industry, when he decided to take up the then seemingly impossible project in creating quality living essentials for the everyday Asian at an affordable price.

 

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By the time OxWhite went live online on June 30 last year, CK Chang and his team have managed to partner exclusively with top-of-the-line factories that have decades of experience when it comes to producing for several major and high end clothing brands. Not only that, they have also managed the impossible: a price that is primarily based on the quality of the materials and craftsmanship – nothing more.

In just over a year, OxWhite has up to 22,000 customers – not only of the male gender, but the female as well, and has sold over 50,000 white shirts of different fits: slim fit, slim fit oxford shirt, relax fit and plus size, with collars that are classic, mandarin or versatile for work or leisure.

Besides offering these white shirts to the fairer sex, a few months back, OxWhite has also launched its line of business backpacks that are made from ultralight nylon that was used by the US Military in the 70s, due to its ultra lightweight and durability – perfect for business travellers that are constantly on the move, and would rather not lug around the extra weight on top of the essentials. The backpacks are also constructed on high-dense 200x100D waving pattern, making them water-resistant, and comfortable double-layered microfiber straps for long hours of wear.

 

“Traditionally, a good quality supima cotton white shirt can go up to RM400 in branded brick-and-mortar stores; we managed to stick to a mere 1.5x mark-up of RM69 for a production cost of RM60”
CK Chang

 

What do you think was missing when it comes to the white shirts made available in the market?

Before kickstarting OxWhite, I have travelled to the US, the UK and Europe, as well as parts of Asia to get to know more about the quality of white shirts the industry around the world provides. I learned that in Malaysia, the white shirts available are often either too expensive, or that they don’t fit the Asian physique just right, as they are meant for the European physique. On the other hand, white shirts produced by local brands, while they do fit the local physique, they lose out on the quality. When it comes to a high quality fitted white shirt that is affordable, you could say that it was practically elusive.

How has OxWhite tackled this problem for the local customers?

We decided on a branding that we are proud to say still stands to this day: to strive on producing white shirts with European quality that fits the Asian physique. I’d look at renowned fashion brands like Hugo Boss and Brooks Brothers as benchmarks, when it comes to the workmanship, and we decided on supima cotton as the material to work on for non-ironed white shirts – a very complicated and expensive product to manufacture.

Traditionally, a good quality supima cotton white shirt can go up to RM400 in branded brick-and-mortar stores; we managed to stick to a mere 1.5x mark-up of RM69 for a production cost of RM60. It’s mainly because we chose to run our business on an online platform, as it is more cost effective. There is generally a high additional cost that comes with traditional retailing, which does not necessarily add value to the goods provided; 60%-80% of what’s shown on the price tag goes to cover the external factors such as distribution and rental.

What would you say were the obstacles in the beginning of your entrepreneurship with OxWhite?

Unlike the ladies, men don’t usually do their shopping online; we did a survey at the beginning of our venture, and found that 97% of them – most of them being millenials – still prefers to shop at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, where they can see, touch and try on what they are potentially spending their money on. It was a tough egg to crack when it comes to convincing them to buy our products online. I suppose, we managed to have a breakthrough with them with our story on how and why we started OxWhite: we are a lifestyle brand that aims to make luxury affordable for everyone. It’s also safe to say that the price point captivated them: RM69 for a good quality white shirt that fits like a glove to a hand.

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