From L to R: Claudia Sondakh, Resham Melwani and Sarah Tan
Photo Credit: Franz Navarrete
I was first introduced proper to Robe Raiders' founders when I shot a campaign for them here. Robe Raiders, was set up in 2011 by Claudia Sondakh, Sarah Tan and Resham Melwani, with the aim of breathing new life into preloved designer clothing. I caught up with them to discuss their friendship, interests in fashion and how they wish to grow their company.
Naked Glory: How did you guys meet and become friends? And how long have you stayed friends?
Sarah: I’ve known Resham since I was a child since we have family friends. And yeah, we’ve stayed friends since!
Claudia: I met Sarah through her sister and then Resham was just through mutual friends.
NG: What similar interests did you share?
Sarah: Well, obviously we’re all very much into fashion. We can just seat around and talk about it. When we started Robe Raiders, individually we all started getting into eating healthy – like gluten-free diets, cleansers and detox... Our interests also go on into various things – because we have a similar group of friends, we socialize outside of work together as well.
Claudia: We enjoy checking out new places – new bars, new restaurants and art as well.
Sarah: Yeah, we recently went to check out the ArtStage Singapore!
NG: How was the idea Robe Raiders born?
Sarah: Resham actually came to me because she wanted to fulfil the need of getting rid of her own stuff. Resham and I had actually done, pre Robe Raiders, similar sort of bazaar sales that other people had organized before. And in those sales, I used to sell my own preloved designer clothes. And so she connected the two – between women who wish to sell their preloved clothes and people who sought for designer clothes at a much lower price. Claudia as well also had a similar need at that point in time.
C: It was really good timing, because everyone just had the same need at the same time.
S: Yeah so Resham came up with the name and we just started from there. Our first event was held on November 2011.
NG: How did you select the pieces for Robe Raiders – is there anything in particular that you look out for?
Sarah: This is one of the major factors that set us apart from other resellers. We don’t consider ourselves resellers – we do curation – like a multi-label boutique, except that we’re dealing with preloved designer clothes.
C: We make sure that our pieces are still relevant, that it can be mixed into current trends.
S: Luxury goods are designed to last more than a season, but not everyone feels like the pieces can remain in their wardrobe because of various reasons. They want to clear some “old clothes” out and make room for new ones and this is where Robe Raiders comes in. The clothes that we pick are obviously still in very good condition, very much on-trend and able to fit in anyone’s wardrobe. So we know that there will definitely be someone out there who would very much like to have it at a very good price. That is why our tagline is one woman’s toss-out is another woman’s treasure.
C: Ultimately, we look out for the brand, the condition and the style. There are instances when we’ve rejected certain pieces despite them being in good condition, because we feel that they might not appeal to our target market. It’s about making sure that it’s still very relevant for today’s trends.
S: It can be some classic stuff though – like we’ve sold some vintage Chanel that’s more than 10 years old, but you can put them on and they’ll still be so relevant.
Resham: I think it helps that we have a good network of people whom we can “hunt down” and also at the same time source pieces for them, so that’s what adds the personalized touch to it, it’s not that we are just curating things with no aim, we know our customers and we know what would suit them and their bodies.
|Robe Raider's editorial content created by Sarah Tan featuring their newly acquired pieces|
NG: What’s your main goal for Robe Raiders?
R: We hope to be a one stop online destination for women wanting to sell/consign their items.
C: What sets us apart is that we give the pieces a new life when we style it, create our editorials and show people that we can make these clothes new again. We think it’s very important to show people how they can integrate the clothes into their current wardrobe. Other secondhand resellers don’t take the effort to do that. Our customers love it too – the editorials really get their attention.
Sarah: So if you discover something in your size, you should just buy it because everything is one of a kind! And also they all at such a good price, I mean buying a Chanel tweed dress at just $500 is just ridiculously cheap. There’s no way you can get it any discount outlet store. People realize that it’s quite special in the sense that Chanel doesn’t produce those styles anymore as well – it’s really a treasure.
Besides Robe Raiders, are you actively involved in anything else?
S: I run my own business, Cosset, which is about sustainable bamboo basics, women’s underwear and lingerie and that’s primarily my current focus.
C: Retail Therapy. We’ve been around for about 10 years now.
Me: The one at Holland Village right?
C: OMG you remember that? Oh my goodness you remember that?! Omg that’s crazy. We subsequently moved to Wheelock, but now we have decided to go online and do small popup events now. I can’t believe you remember the outlet at Holland Village! How old was I? How old were you?!
*laughs in disbelief* My business partner and I would still go buying for Retail Therapy, and we have collaborated with Robe Raiders before for some of our events. We’ve worked with the designers for so long, it’s very easy to know what we want to buy; it’s like clockwork now. My business partner has 3 kids now so until we find a really great space, we’d be happy doing just popups.
R: I’m basically now on hiatus for my label – I don’t I’m going to go back to it. At all. Now I just wish to be able to manage Robe Raiders and move on to the next stage of life for myself in terms of starting a family.
How would you spend your ideal day?
S: My ideal day? Good question. I would spend it in…a giant bathtub filled with marshmallows and jellybeans.
C: Really? Really? You sure you wanna put that in?
NG: For the whole day??
S: Yeah I think so…Sure!
C: Hahaha eat your way through the day! When you’re hungry you’d just eat the marshmallows *laughs*
S: And I’ll have lots of books and DVDs stacked up and I’d just spend it in the giant bathtub...and my jellybeans… *dreams away*
C: I’m not a morning person. I’d sleep in, probably like, just rest. Lots of sleep, good food and time with my loved ones. I can be anywhere, as long as I have those.
R: Ideal dayyyy is –sigh- first, gym, yogapilates, to build strength. Eating well, having a really good breakfast. The last few years because of the nature of my work, I have not been able to seat and eat properly. I was always missing meals or just grabbing a bite here or there…and that has caused my immunity system to go down. So it’s priority to eat a more healthily, like more vegetables and organic food. I’d also like to go supermarket to buy snacks, odds and ends. Then finally, I would cook what I’ve bought, seat by my pool with the evening sun and hangout with my husband and my family.
C: Ideal day – oh I need to work on it!
You can visit Robe Raiders at www.roberaiders.com. Robe Raiders donate a portion of their sales from every popup event to a charity of their choice each time. Now you can have greater satisfaction from retail therapy, knowing that you’re doing both Mother Nature and the society a big favour!