Breaking Free









Cotton On


Cotton On

What’s a style trend you’d like to see more of?
I love my hats and I do feel they’re not worn well in Singapore—you usually get army boy caps, but beyond that, people don’t explore too much when it comes to hats.

If you could change anything about the CBD area, it’d be:
The lack of halal options in CBD. When you work in more heartland areas, there’s a bigger diversity of Malay food in general, but here it gets typecast as nasi padang. I do love my nasi padang, but I do need  diversity—we also need to eat mala or fried chicken! In the CBD, sometimes a smoothie bowl can pass off as lunch (laughs).

Share with us your favourite place in Singapore, apart from your home.
Rather than a specific place, I’m very passionate about the neighbourhoods we live in. I think the heartland areas are so rich and full of culture which you can’t always find in more tourist-prone areas. I also enjoy engaging in turf wars with people, because ultimately the youth just want to belong somewhere, even if it’s Clementi or Nee Soon (laughs).

You recently shifted jobs—what prompted the change?
I used to do fashion for a while—I came up with a bridal collection with my friend, and we designed a Chinese New Year print together. The fashion design landscape in Singapore can be quite tough: it’s predominantly of one colour. I’ve joined many good competitions, but even then, winning awards doesn’t get you a seat at the main table. You have to be in the circle to make a name for yourself. It can sometimes get a little elitist, which is why I became less interested after a period of time.

Do you have a personal project that you’re working on right now?
I’m hoping to work on building a community or initiative that’ll help to get more opportunities for different creatives and empower them so they can be on a level playing field as the rest. Even with my new position, where I’m working as creative lead, I hope to weave in more local creatives, or those who direly need a platform to showcase their talent.

I do think there’s been a gradual shift for local creatives, both in terms of attention and demand they’re receiving. Especially now, when people cannot travel overseas, there’s a bigger focus on the talent we have locally and it’s important to capitalise on it.

What’s something that you wished was taught in schools, but isn’t right now?

How to handle bureaucracy and red tape (laughs). On a serious note, the bulk of curriculum focused on design aspects, but a large part of being a creative goes into paperwork: applying for grants, doing profit and loss statements, applying for permits. There’s a huge gap in the education system, and I think schools have a certain level of accountability to ensure that students are equipped with these skills.

What’s some advice you’d give to a local creative starting out in Singapore?
This is going to be a little controversial (laughs) but I think artists sometimes have a fear of selling out and might not be as willing to compromise when it comes to commercial projects. Of course, commercial projects come with their own set of restrictions, but we’re always seeing a lot of projects that are willing to take ‘risky’ steps.

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