After discovering piles of unused leftover fabric from an umbrella factory in 2016, Nicharee “Lee” Prasitrattanaporn saw potential in scraps and decided to begin working exclusively with excess fabrics. To produce a new, unique material that could be shaped into various bag designs, from totes to hobo bags, Prasitrattanaporn stitched and pleated long strips of excess umbrella cloths, an idea that eventually won first prize at the Vogue Thailand Fashion Fund competition in 2018.
A combination of the words “reuse” and “pleat,” Repleat launched in 2017 with four products, and today offers over 100 designs carried in Bangkok’s largest department stores, including Iconsiam, Siam Paragon, and the Emporium.
Retail in Asia speaks with founder and designer Lee Prasitrattanaporn on Repleat’s aspirations and next steps.
RiA: Tell us about the inspiration behind Repleat.
Prasitrattanaporn: My inspiration is based on pleat texture and pleat techniques. My initial idea was to design a bag with a unique shape and unique fabric that can merge with the bag’s shape seamlessly. The first model was a tote bag, which is quite simple and can be folded by rolling. This model made Repleat start running sales. Another iconic model is our hobo bag, developed from pain points in previous models. When I design a new collection, I based on pleated fabric with bag shapes. I always create based on each season’s concept and [each collection] has its own story. Since our products are timeless, classic, and can be used for a very long time, customers will not feel they are outdated.
RiA: What have been the key steps in boosting Repleat’s visibility as a Thai brand?
Prasitrattanaporn: One of the key [steps] that boosts our brand visibility is the location. Repleat shops are located in the top three department stores [in Bangkok], which are Siam Paragon, Iconsiam, and The Emporium. Other than location, Repleat’s sales assistants always inform our customers that we are originally designed and produced in Thailand. Moreover, our marketing team is also focusing on brand image that aligns with our brand identity.
RiA: What is a recent challenge experienced by your business?
Prasitrattanaporn: In 2019, Repleat was selling in more than 10 branches in Thailand, both in Bangkok and other cities. Everything was shut down during the pandemic, including our stores. To be able to continue Repleat, I decided to switch our focus on online business. I brought Repleat to Lazada and focused on developing our website to become a one-stop service to our customers. The pandemic taught us a lot in developing our business online and choosing locations that support the best results for our products.
When everything started to go back to normal, our brand became stronger both online and in physical stores. We aim to expand in the right locations and lead our customers to come back to our online shop.
RiA: Do you have any plans to expand beyond Thailand, and what are your next steps?
Prasitrattanaporn: We currently have three locations in Bangkok: Siam Paragon, Iconsiam, and The Emporium. We plan to have our own [standalone] store in Bangkok and more in other cities. We are also planning to expand our production along with more product lines to keep our customers excited.