UNIQLO x SHENTONISTA: Ready, Set, Go — In Different States

Bino, Banking. EZY Ankle Pants from UNIQLO; rest of outfit Bino’s own.

We saw Bino’s corporate side when we first caught him in the CBD, but today we got to explore the side of him that is usually less seen. Bino runs his own travel blog, and when he isn’t working in banking full-time, his passion for travel sees him journeying the world over. In fact, when we met him this time round, he’d just come back from a weekend trip to Wakayama, where he got to taste Japan’s best ramen and chill in an infinity onsen that overlooks the sea. Having to flit between two very distinct roles means that when it comes to his style, versatility and comfort are key for Bino; we speak to him to find out how he manages it all.

Shentonista (S): What’s a typical day like for you on a weekday and a weekend?
Bino (B): I’ll come in to the office before 9 on the weekdays and work till about 6 or 7PM. After getting home and after dinner, I’ll do some writing. I sometimes travel on the weekends and if not, I’ll spend that time exploring Singapore. I haven’t really discovered anything new in Singapore recently as I’ve lived here for a while now, but a place I really like is Katong. I think it’s a very charming area with a lot of nice architecture and food that hasn’t been cheapened or spoilt by mass franchising.

S: Work-life balance or work-life harmony?
B: Work-life balance. I find balance by always making time for what’s important in life. For example, family, friends, having your own time and taking care of your health. I have specific time allocated for me to not work or blog.

S: You work in a bank and at the same time, you’re a travel blogger. How do you manage both?
B: We all have hobbies. I see my travel blog, I Wander, as that. I started it out of an interest in the field of travel so I don’t see myself as having to manage it with work or anything. It’s just something I do during my free time. As for my full-time job, I take it very seriously and that’s what I’m dedicated to during working hours.

S: Of all the places you’ve visited, what’s a country that best describes you?
B: Japan. There are so many layers to this country—some not easily seen. Similarly, friends often remark that it takes a while to really get to know me.

S: What’s one travel experience you would want to relive?
B: There are so many of them. But I’d definitely want to relive my trip to Iran back in 2011. The people were so friendly, the environment surprisingly pleasant, and the cities incredibly beautiful. It’s now a lot easier to visit Iran and because of mass tourism, I’ve heard that the experience is no longer the same for people who visit these days.

S: Share with us a little more about some of the interesting people you’ve met while traveling.
B: Where to begin? There have been quite a few. One person I recently met sold all his belongings in the United Kingdom to travel the world. He literally fits his entire life in one suitcase and has been to 100 countries. How cool is that?

S: What are some tips on how to achieve a comfortable work-life balance?
B: I like the concept of plurality. We all have different roles in various contexts and periods—whether it be for what we do for a living, or as a parent/son/friend, artist, professional, etc. If we look upon all our roles seriously, then we will make time for everything.

S: How do you manage to stay stylish and comfortable when you’re on-the-go all the time?
B: Pack light. Go for something wrinkle-free like
these pants (plus points for presentability especially where irons aren’t easily available). Again, go for basics.

S: How important is style and comfort to you?
B: It’s very important to me, since I travel a lot and a lot of the conditions that I’m subjected to may not be very comfortable—a hot desert, for example, or somewhere very humid. So, it’s very important that what I’m wearing is very comfortable.
I don’t really see myself as a stylish person but I do prioritise comfort. I normally stick to basics and neutral colours and that usually works well for me—something like these pants fit the description.

S: How differently do you dress on your weekends off, or when you’re just headed out around the neighbourhood?
B: Oh, very differently! It’s much more casual for me on the weekends. I usually wear shorts and sandals, like the ones I’m wearing now, together with a short-sleeved shirt.

S: How does your style fit into your lifestyle?
B: I’m not a high maintenance person so my style should reflect that. I don’t like something that’s over the top—I don’t spend a great deal of time fussing over what I should wear. My usual getup during the weekends consist of a t-shirt and trousers. No extra bells and whistles. I guess what’s important is how you present yourself. You don’t necessarily have to wear haute couture to look good.

S: How you would take an outfit from day to night?
B: I sometimes have engagements in the evenings after work and I don’t have a general rule for taking an outfit from day to night. I just wear what I think is good but generally, if it’s something that stretches to the evening, I’ll wear something darker, not like anything in yellow or white. If I had to wear this outfit to the office, I’d change my top, and the sandals will have to go as well because banking is a bit more corporate!

S: Share with us the three things you’ll look out for when purchasing a clothing item.
B: Firstly, I’d like it to be timeless, not something that’s just practical or trendy. Secondly, it should be comfortable. Thirdly, it has to have value. Value to me is a function of need, and having an object falling below a fair price that I’ve worked out in my head. I don’t mean to be so numbers-based but it comes with what I do for a living (laughs). Something of value doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. But what’s important is that you’re getting a utility or benefit that far outweighs the price you pay for it. An example is the wallet I’m using now. I bought it for a couple of hundred dollars, which isn’t cheap, but ten years later, it still looks awfully new.

S: Describe your style in three words.
B: Comfortable, Simple, Muted—I don’t go for loud colours!

S: If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
B: The ability to fly!

S: What’s an interesting encounter you’ve had at work?
B: Getting to watch Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams play tennis as part of my work commitments.

S: What inspires you to do the things you do on a day-to-day basis?
B: For me, it’s very important to like what you’re doing. It’s fortunate that I am able to do something I’m mildly interested in for a living. (laughs)

S: Describe one experience you’ve had where you took a huge leap of faith.
B: Ten years ago, I received a full scholarship to take up a postgraduate degree in New York and a job offer in Singapore at the same time. Both were equally good options. At the time, I was very much into the idea of living in New York, but in the end, I decided to take up the job offer instead. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I eventually opted to study in New York but I can’t say I’m regretting my current situation.

Bino was previously seen here.

This is a SHENTONISTA project for UNIQLO, featuring their all-new EZY Ankle Pants.  Shop for men here and women here.

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