Two Malaysian Entrepreneurs Make T-Shirts Their Business


T-shirts – we all wear them. When you find the perfect one, dressing up can be as easy as pairing it with jeans for casual occasions or a sharply tailored blazer for fancier dos.

This is where Buttonwell enters into the picture. Founded by Goh How Khiam and Lai Kar Jun, the label offers everyday T-shirts made from quality raw materials, and at a fair price.

“We chose T-shirts as the starting point as we both are T-shirt kind of guys. We love T-shirts, we wear them often, and we both have our likes – and dislikes – of how a perfect T-shirt should be,” they stated.

“Instead of just a sloppy piece of T-shirt, we aim to create T-shirts with a great fit that give a smart look; that are suitable for work and play; and the perfect piece that people will instinctively reach for every time they get dressed.”

It has not been a walk in the park for them though. This is because they have no prior background in fashion. Both Goh and Lai were also working day jobs at the time Buttonwell started .

The journey has taken them from kopitiam discussions and factory visits across Malaysia to trade fairs in China, as well as late-night Skype meetings with factories in Peru and much more.

“Instead of sourcing the traditional way through wholesalers, distributors and retailers, we work directly with textile mills and factories to manufacture our clothing based on our specifications, and sell them directly to shoppers,” they explained.

“We also operate fully online, cutting out excesses such as traditional marketing and overheads from physical stores. By keeping our operating cost lean, we’re able to keep our prices friendly.”


Buttonwell offers everyday clothing essentials made from Supima cotton.

Buttonwell T-shirts are priced at RM49.90 ( Each piece is made from Supima cotton, and crafted to be thicker and heavier, plus designed to have a more fitted cut with a luxury finish.

One of the big challenges they have face so far is the online clothes shopping behaviour in Malaysia. According to them, consumers are more particular with their fashion purchases these days.

“While online shopping in general is picking up here, we can’t deny that shoppers in general are still more used to buying clothes in physical stores, because they can touch, feel and try on the sizes.”

Moving forward, Buttonwell is aiming to produce T-shirts for different segments of society – modest long sleeved tops, for example. This is in addition to various other fabric options like linen and denim.

“There’s a saying that 20% of your wardrobe gets worn 80% of the time. Buttonwell aims to be part of the coveted 20%. That favourite garment that always sits on top of the pile,” Goh and Lai said in conclusion.

Read more : thestar

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