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Fashion

Fashion Files: This Young Singaporean Turns Bondage Dressing Into A Cool Everyday Aesthetic

In this column, we meet some of +65's most underrated fashion stars and get them to open up their wardrobes.
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Marketing communications executive Shimin Poh

When asked over e-mail what is the one item of clothing she’d never be caught dead wearing, Shimin Poh shot back with a snarky wry reply: an image of an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. Could that ubiquitous A&F cotton top be to this 24-year-old marketing communications executive what Crocs are to most of us? Indeed, Poh’s opinions about dressing up are as bold and assertive as her own personal style.

We first bumped into her at our Studio 45 Anniversary Party in April and was smitten by her Lucy Liu-in-Charlie’s-Angels-inspired outfit. A look at her Instagram shows off her propensity for experimenting with darkly romantic fashion. You get glimpses of Buffy (you know the Vampire Slayer from the ’90s), a Bratz doll, a fashion school kid and punk all rolled into one. While her style references and icons check off some of London‘s most progressive indie designers like Dilara Findikoglu and Mowalola Ogunlesi.

Her wardrobe is not just filled with thrifted buys, a mix of underground cult labels and vintage designer stuff. It also includes items in patent and pieces like garters that some would call kinky but which she considers”skanky chic”. She says: “I love bondage-inspired garments and accessories. Skanky chic is me trying to find a balance between looking risque and preserving some decency.” Just don’t label her an alternative girl, though. She says: “I do get people telling me to dress “normal”. Well, it’s got a lot to do with what is defined as the norm.”

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Poh likes to add a bondage influence in her dressing such as this I.Am.Gia vinyl cropped top.

Describe your sense of style.

“It’s very much inspired by my emotions or what I am into at that point. I was watching several episodes of Bratz that day and was inspired to dress like them. I could be looking at images of women in the 1850s and the next thing I want to do is to wear a crinoline. It really depends, my style changes pretty often.”

Your aesthetic is geared towards something that’s darkly romantic.

“I am very inspired by subcultures like the Teddy Boys, Glam Rock and Steampunk. I like wearing garments that are reflective of how I am feeling. Garments are like a second skin. Especially on days when you don’t feel your best, they act as an armour. This quote by favourite fashion designer Dilara Findikoglu is like my mantra: ‘May the darkness light the way’.”

Do you often get stares and comments from people for the way you dress?

“I do get odd stares from time to time. I cope with it by staring back at them until they look away. This method has been proven to work.”

What does being well-dressed mean to you?

“I think it’s about the fit of the garment. Ill-fitted garments are the worst unless it’s part of a concept.”

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Poh fills her wardrobe with a mix of vintage, thrifted buys, and purchases from underground cult brands.

Who are your fashion icons and what have you learnt from them?

“Fashion designers like Dilara Findikoglu, Mowalola Ogunlesi, Charlotte Knowles and LuQi Yu, the founder of Nodress Official and the (RIhanna-approved DJ and It girl) Sita Abellan, l. They’ve proven how important it is to really just embrace your culture and be comfortable with who you are.”

Where do you go for retail therapy?

“I mostly shop online on sites like Depop, Grailed, Doll Skill and Ssense. I also enjoy vintage shopping and thrifting.”

What is one recent fashion purchase that you’re obsessed with and why?

“Definitely, a vintage Jean Paul Gaultier mesh top. It’s a piece that would hold its value, though I accidentally snipped a hole in it while opening my package.”

What is your most prized possession and why?

“It’ll be a T-shirt from Unif that has an image of a man lying over a pool of spilt milk, accompanied by a slogan that reads ‘F*** the System’. It reminds me to live free.”

What is the greatest length you’ve gone to in the name of fashion?

“I remember buying shoes that were two sizes too small. I had my eye on the pair but it was only available in a size 37 when I’m a size 39. They were beautiful so I got it, wore it and regretted after.”

Her Favourite Items In The Wardrobe

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