Mr Leroy Xavier Zhong, co-founder and director of HyperGrand.
The first month of the year has already taken off with a bang for Mr Leroy Xavier Zhong, co-founder and director of watch brand HyperGrand.
Jan 22 saw the launch of the label’s third collection and it recently featured in the product offerings of American stockists Selfridges, Tilly’s and Urban Outfitters.
Last year, HyperGrand watches were covered in international magazine GQ, and online in Hype Beast and Cool Material.
Since its launch in July 2013, the brand has come to be known as the first in the world to introduce the graphic-printed NATO line of watch straps.
Traditionally, these nylon watch straps were plain, based on British Ministry of Defence standard issue. In April 2013, Mr Zhong, 30, began experimenting with rejigging the print resolution and made the strap’s weave finer, so that eye-popping patterns became possible.
Adding to their appeal is that these relatively inexpensive straps, costing US$39 (S$53) each, are interchangeable.
Today, HyperGrand is available at more than 300 stores in 24 countries. Mr Zhong credits this success to the strategy of shunning watch industry shows where competitors are present.
Instead HyperGrand presents its wares at fashion trade shows such as Liberty Market in New York and Las Vegas, Seek in Berlin and Yo’Hood in Shanghai.
Often, HyperGrand is the only watch brand at such shows. As a result, many of the brand’s stockists are fashion retailers.
HyperGrand’s participation in such shows in the past few years has been supported by grants from the DesignSingapore Council, which helped cover transport, booth and other costs.
Mr Zhong has an engineering background and worked at A*Star (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) before turning his longtime passion for watches into a business.
What he realised after the brand’s first major trade show, Liberty Fair in New York in January last year, was that besides the B2B connections and media exposure, the company could learn a lot from the other more experienced exhibitors at such events.
He says: “They have shared with us things like how to expand business overseas and how to present yourself during shows.”
This article was first published in The Straits Times, 2 February 2015.
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