Nana: Fashion has infinite possibilities, and new power is born from it. As a carrier of culture and times, fashion encompasses everything. From trendy to traditional culture, from celebrities, idols to everyone’s daily life, and from West to East, it is our discourse, our power, our time. Through Asian Voice, we hope to spread the local Asian fashion culture to the world by moving cross languages and borders.
When Johnny began his fitness journey on the vibrant land of Australia, A sense of accomplishment in fitness led Johnny to establish TeamJoined, a brand dedicated to uniting individuals on their unique fitness paths.
A decade ago, when online platforms were just starting to take root in Aisa, Johnny began delving into the world of bodybuilding and fitness. He discovered a gap in the local fitness market and was determined to fill it with my passion and newly acquired skills.The brand’s mission is not only to achieve personal fitness goals but, more importantly, to foster unity among individuals.
In this conversation with Johnny, he also shares the differences in fitness culture across various regions in Asia.
What inspired to create your own sportswear brand and named it “TEAMJOINED”?
Johnny: I began my fitness journey while in Australia. I was determined to shed some weight, and I’m happy to say it was quite a success.
During that time, I immersed myself in the world of bodybuilding and fitness, soaking up knowledge from various online sources, particularly from YouTube content creators. I was very enthusiastic about it, and this was around a decade ago when online platforms were just starting to gain popularity in Chinese community. Nowadays, it’s commonplace for people to learn from YouTube and other online sources, but back then, it was a niche community that I was deeply involved in.
I always found joy in motivating those around me, especially at the gym, where I inspired others on their fitness journeys. Around eight years ago, I returned to Hong Kong to assist my dad with his business. It was during this time that I noticed a gap in the fitness market in Hong Kong, given my passion for fitness. I sported all the latest lifting gear and fitness clothing while abroad, but I couldn’t find the same variety in Hong Kong.
Fortunately, I had acquired some business skills from my dad, alongside my own learning journey. I delved into aspects like purchasing, attending numerous exhibitions, and connecting with local suppliers.
Additionally, I had a background in design, enabling me to create my own brand logo.This marked the birth of Team Join, and our first product was lifting straps. Later, we expanded into clothing as well.
Can you give us more details about the core value of “It’s Never Too Late” that the brand has?
Johnny: From the outset, it’s evident that it’s never too late, and our goal is to foster unity among individuals. We’ve encountered situations where there might be conflicts when comparing this number two to the idea of taking action right away. In essence, acting immediately aligns with the concept of this number two.
However, we’ve come to understand that sometimes, circumstances can delay progress significantly.
Therefore, whenever we send a message, we make it a point to be exceptionally clear about why certain endeavors are not bound by time constraints. Our aim is to inspire people to initiate their journeys promptly.
But our overarching objective is to bring people together, promoting unity among individuals, in line with the essence of our brand name.
Many people in their twenties are now going to the gym. It’s quite a contrast from 10 years ago when this trend wasn’t as popular. What’s your perspective on the changes in the fitness scene in Hong Kong over the past decade?
Johnny: In Asia, there has been a significant change in the fitness scene. Initially, places like Japan and Hong Kong had early adopters of bodybuilding. However, in Taiwan, it took a bit longer to catch on, and it remained a niche interest, mainly limited to a small group of enthusiasts.
Things began to change with the rise of social media. People started realizing that fitness was an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. They began to follow influencers and gain more knowledge about fitness. This shift attracted a younger audience willing to invest time and money into sports, not just bodybuilding.
The differences between Hong Kong and Taiwan are noteworthy. Hong Kong, like Singapore and Japan, is a bustling city, but not everyone can afford the time and resources for fitness. In contrast, Taiwan embraced fitness as a lifestyle, making it easier to incorporate fitness products and brands into daily life. In Taiwan, people enjoy the journey of going to the gym and take pride in wearing stylish workout gear.
This shift in mindset led to my move to Taiwan seven years ago. I built a successful business there. Interestingly, after the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong also saw an increase in young people and teenagers embracing our brand.
The younger generation in Hong Kong has evolved, now willing to invest time in their hobbies and interests. It’s quite fascinating to witness this transformation. Hong Kong used to be known for its fast-paced, tough lifestyle, but now, the new generation prioritizes their passions and hobbies.
Furthermore, there was a scarcity of business-related content in Cantonese in Hong Kong, leading many to follow Taiwanese YouTubers. This connection between Hong Kong and Taiwanese communities has strengthened through our brand and business networks.
What fitness experiences and sensations do you hope to provide for people wearing TEAMJOINED?
Johnny: When I first started creating our products, we focused on materials, cutting, and overall design, which are essential in the fashion and trend aspect of building a Paris brand. However, our core value goes beyond that.
Our brand is about building a community and providing mental support, not just clothing. Many people offer random T-shirts, and you don’t necessarily need specialized sportswear. The missing piece is motivation and a sense of belonging. Sometimes, life can be lonely or boring without it.
We work hard to create a sense of chemistry and motivation, similar to the feeling you get when playing an online game and wearing special gear to boost your performance. Our clothing aims to empower you not only mentally but also physically.
We’ve transitioned from gym clothing to lifestyle clothing, offering various products to match different lifestyles. After working out, people want to showcase their progress and unique body shapes. We understand the importance of this.
As a designer and creative director, we keep an eye on global trends and fashion to incorporate those elements into our collections. We also aim to educate our customers that they can wear our clothing not only to the gym but also during their daily routines.
The gym is a place where you constantly see yourself in mirrors, so it’s an opportunity to motivate yourself. Some people wear plain T-shirts, but we believe you can always do better. Dressing up is like following a dress code, and it can enhance your gym experience.
The brand has also been around for almost seven years. What are some of the challenges you have faced during the building of the brand?
Johnny: As I mentioned earlier, in my role as a creative director, I often keep an eye on fashion trends and try to incorporate them into our fitness clothing. However, it’s essential to strike a balance because our customers sometimes prefer basics over trendy items.
We’ve learned that we need to understand our customers’ needs while introducing new elements carefully. Sometimes being too quick or too trendy can be a misstep. For example, our best sellers are usually black, white, gray, and navy, but we decided to introduce an orange color for the summer, and it became a hit. Customers appreciate surprises, but it’s crucial to make the right choices.
Finding the balance between following trends and sticking to what our customers love is essential. We may introduce trendy colors, but we ensure the cuts and materials are familiar to our customers. It’s all about adding little details that resonate with them.
This approach sets us apart from traditional fashion brands. On the operational side, we face ups and downs. While we focus on launching new collections, we also recognize the importance of maintaining our core, basic products. These basic items provide stability and funds for our creative ventures.
Balancing branding, sales, and managing our team is challenging but essential for building and sustaining our brand. It’s not just about fashion and sales; it’s also about effective management and team coordination, which are equally important.
Do you have any advice for our readers who are seeking to find a way to start their own brand or career in the fashion industry?
Johnny: This question is important, and many people aspire to be like you. In the past, my advice was different because times have changed. Five years ago, I would have suggested people to just go for what they like and pursue their passions.
However, the world has become more challenging, and social media has evolved. There are still opportunities, but gaining some experience first is valuable. You can hustle by working a full-time job and pursuing side projects. Once you feel stable or find the right opportunity, then go for it.
Creating opportunities for yourself is crucial. Don’t limit yourself to things you don’t enjoy; it’s okay to make money to support yourself and your family, but always strive to do something you believe in.
Starting something new has become easier, and even if it doesn’t succeed, you won’t regret it. Gratitude and empathy are essential qualities for success. Empathy means understanding others’ perspectives and having a balanced win-win mentality.
Being an entrepreneur or a manager involves balancing and considering the needs of both sides. Being naturally empathetic can be a valuable asset in this journey. It’s not just about doing what you like but finding a balance in life.
It’s not just about doing what you like but finding a balance in life.
Text by Yiyao Zhang