Past Lives








Introduce yourself!
I’m Belinda, but please call me Bel! I’m 23 this year. I studied fashion design and worked as a fashion designer at iORA, but then I got burnt out so I’m now a technician for home textiles and a bit of kidswear at Lidl, a German supermarket—in other words, it’s more corporate now.

Do you see yourself ever going back to fashion?
Oh, not right now because, as my grandma says, fashion really tan bo lui (can’t earn money), but that’s why I do personal projects and commissions on the side.

I learnt a lot working in fashion, but to do that for the rest of my life, absolutely not! So yes, this is why I’m slowly pivoting away from fashion now.

That said though, I do enjoy crocheting and I still do work on personal projects here and there.

What else do you see yourself doing or exploring then?
Actually, apart from fashion, what I really wanted to do was product design, and I guess fashion can be seen as a product in a sense.

I wanted to go back to school to study product design, but I feel like it’s a very chicken and egg situation, meaning you need a portfolio to get a degree in it, but then you’d need to already be in product design to build up a portfolio, so if you aren’t already in product design, how would you be able to get a degree in it?

So right now, I guess the answer is to just work hard and hopefully earn enough money to fund my degree instead of having to rely on my parents.

If you could go back in time, would you still have chosen to study fashion?
In this day and age? I would absolutely not have been able to make it! First off, the cut off point for the course I graduated from (Temasek Polytechnic’s Apparel Design & Merchandising) was 17 back then I think, but now it’s 12, which is crazy!

Secondly, in my time in poly, we did a lot of practical modules like draping and sewing, but now, there’s things like videography, marketing, and e-commerce that they have to learn about too. I would never be able to survive!

I think especially with the rise of TikTok, everybody’s like “Oh, I can just get a sewing machine, go to Chinatown and get some fabric, and come back and watch a tutorial and make something,” so there’s a very big shift in mindset there. Everybody has their own accounts, and are exploring fashion in their own way, so if you ask me, if I were to go back and study fashion with everyone else in this day and age, I would fail out of school, man! (laughs)

Now that you’re three years out of school, how do you feel?
I graduated in 2021, and things have definitely changed a lot since then. One of my lecturers said that the batch that she taught after us was a lot more creative, but also very lazy. They have the ideas, but they just don’t want to do the work.

Anyway, how do I feel? I look at my juniors who are hustling in the industry and I’m just like, I could never. Props to them for doing it though!

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