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Singaporean Creative Collective Red Just Launched Its Debut Book

If you've been keeping up with Red's (previously known as What Singapore Wore) Style In Singapore photo diaries on our website, this one's for you. The creative collective's most recent project is 'Codex Red' which displays their conceptualised works within film, photography and styling.

Gen Z cultural documenters Gabe Tan and Christian Julian’s distinctively raw style snaps are hard to miss. The duo has been singling out Singapore’s best-dressed (read: a considered collection of cool, fashion-loving partygoers) and chronicling them on their now-defunct Instagram page, @whatsingaporewore since 2018. In its place is Red, an equally hype rebranding of What Singapore Wore’s streetstyle photography roots – which sees the former two man team joined by new members: videographer Muhammad Asyraf, curator Moh Ee Jin and music producer Cedric Chern.

First order of business for the new creative collective? A debut book launch. Titled ‘Codex Red’, the book is a fitting nod to the multi-hyphenate sensibilities of the group – documenting their work across mediums like styling, film and music as well. Here, founder Gabe Tan gives us the low down on Codex Red, where to get a copy and what we can expect from the collective in the near future.

Red’s debut book ‘Codex Red’ is retailing at $40 and can be purchased via Instagram through @2400red or @g.abetan

Tell us about your new book, Codex Red. 

“Codex Red documents what Red has been up to so far as a creative hub. It was meant to be What Singapore Wore’s second book, but sometime in June, I decided to move it in a different direction and RED was born. This will be Red’s first ever (possibly bi-annual) book.”

How is Red different from What Singapore Wore?

“What Singapore Wore was streetstyle focused and Red is more of a creative hub, where the team creates original content and visuals. Red is also open to taking on creative client work if the opportunity arises. The goal of Red is and will always be to go international.”

You’ve been documenting local style for a while now. How has the style landscape evolved in Singapore over the past few years?

“Over the years, my own personal taste has evolved and that has affected the style that I shoot and who I want to shoot as well as who I avoid. Singaporeans have evolved in their sense of fashion and taste.”

Where do you personally go to snap pictures? 

“I like anywhere that doesn’t look like Singapore. Or anywhere that I can make it not look local.”

What draws you to taking a picture of someone?

“They’d have to be cool and interesting, preferably spontaneous with poses. That’s for streetstyle and Red. I also have a personal project called Girls on Film, in which my criteria is a mix of the above and raw contemporary beauty.”

Tell us a little bit about the movie script concept of Codex Red.

“Frankly, we did not have a direction for the book. We just wanted to conceptualise as much and turn those ideas into visuals. So I thought if the book did not have a direction, it should at least have a theme. The movie script concept was derived from how I personally envisioned Red to be in three to five years time –  a creative hub based in Los Angeles or New York City while retaining our global network. Say we do achieve that goal, life would truly be a movie. And all content and ideas we produce would be scenes to complete the movie, which is why they are set out in chapters.”

 What can people expect from RED as a creative hub?

“A lot of original content and ideas as well as different styles of shooting that are more unique and niche to us, which we hope to monopolise locally for now.”

Who are your personal creative influences? 

“High up the list are: Anton Tammi and of course Abel Tesfaye, alongside Dexter Navy. Other international influences: @tarekmawad, @jakewanger, @jamie_noise, @neilkrug, @kino_proby, @kolja.eckert as well as local influences @wolfboytroy and @4statine.”

Chapter 1 - Misadventures
“The idea of the first chapter Misadventures was to capture the spirit of well dressed youths going about the city vibing and having adventures. We were heavily inspired by skate and fashion creative collectives in L.A and NYC who effortlessly capture themselves having fun around town.”   Chapter 1 - Misadventures
“We thought that we needed a very in-the-moment standout shot and decided to use Caleb (bottom) as a “skateboard” to do a kickflip.” Chapter 2 - Cherub
“Cherub (@cherub_____ with 5 underscores) was our first imagined client project. The team conceptualised and executed these editorial lookbook images for Cherub. This particular picture captures the idea of Cherub having and sticking to its own style amidst the whirlwind of fast fashion out there.” Chapter 2 - Cherub
“This was one of those full page editorial shots to feature the tank top, and their best seller, the black cargo shorts.” Chapter 3 - Conversation
“Chapter three was personally a fun one for myself. The point of the chapter was to capture designers in their element, while giving them a platform to speak out on their process. We were inspired by Nike’s promotional video for the AF-1 Paranoise “G-D is All in For Seoul” and decided to film in a similar manner whilst fusing our signature touch of coloured lightings. As we decided to use a pair of Converse for the video, we aptly named it Conversation. We found this abandoned room in Dakota Crescent and decided to use the space for the video.” Chapter 3 - Conversation
Chapter 5 - Beyond the Border
“As the end goal for Red is to go international, we decided to tap into our network abroad. Red wants to feature creatives that are on the rise. We turned our attention to Skye (@skyelai___ with 3 underscores), from Kuala Lumpur. I personally have been a fan of her work and it seemed fitting to turn the spotlight to her. Skye is by profession a stylist, but she does great fashion photography work as well. Hence, the idea of the image was to blur out the front to focus on the light at the back. I wanted to allude to her being a good photographer as well as a stylist.”   Chapter 5 - Beyond the Border
Chapter 6 - Reimagery
“For this chapter, I tried to focus more on our styling work, as we do have members that delve into the world of fashion. So our curator decided to style the subject in a completely different look. Nathaniel (@nathanielfong), the subject, typically has a clean, neutral, soft look, but we decided to grunge him out and deck him in archival pieces, courtesy of Reduxing (@reduxing_) which is an archive Instagram shop.” Chapter 6 - Reimagery
Chapter 7 - The Old Chapter
“So this was the chapter that paid homage to our roots, What Singapore Wore. We’ve evolved into so much more since then, but we still do it from time to time. It wouldn’t be Red’s main focus anymore but we think that What Singapore Wore is still a niche content that resonates with Red”. Chapter 7 - The Old Chapter
“This is Silas, better known as @bludshot on Instagram. He is a core member of Team Cozy, and one of my inspirations when I first started photography.” Chapter 7 - The Old Chapter
“Lastly this is an image from Culture Cartel 2019, which shows that Red is not completely done with shooting What Singapore Wore content.”