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Why Not?: A New Collective Aiming To Disrupt Singapore's Fashion Ecosystem

What changes would you guys like to see being implemented in the local fashion landscape?

Izwan Abdullah: Ultimately, we want to change Singaporeans’ perception of fashion. I think it’s ironic how some in the audience were dismissive even though the format of the show was obviously experimental. I think that people forget to have fun sometimes, and it’s okay to not take everything too seriously – come with an open mind and have fun. Having said that, some of them were quite supportive of the initiative and had a lot to contribute to the conversation. I hope one day, we’d get to see fashion being elevated to the same stature as other art forms like sculptures, paintings and architecture.

Manfred Lu: I agree with Izwan. What most people think about fashion, especially in Singapore, they see this closed world of glamour and beauty, they see power and opulence, but I don’t think that’s true at all. Fashion is fun, it has always been fun. It’s shocking, it’s exciting. But along the way I believe we lost that. We forgot how to have fun. We forget that fashion is expansive and dynamic as well. There are different interpretations to it. If everyone sees it this way, young designers wouldn’t have to be scared of trying something new. They’d be celebrated instead of being critiqued and judged. I hope in the near future we’d change that in Singapore.

Sheree Toh: I think there are a lot of passionate individuals and emerging designers in Singapore but perhaps due to the lack of viable opportunities and encouragement, not everyone is able to pursue the path of fashion.

I do believe we have channeled a lot of funds and resources in the government’s efforts to build a local fashion industry, such as the recent opening of Design Orchard as a new hub and incubator for local talents and brands, where designers share access to mentors, programmes and facilities in their progress.

What we lack is confidence – the individual’s confidence to achieve what they desire and public confidence in local designers. Regarding art and design, people are still relatively conventional and not fully convinced that it is a viable career path. Without even giving it a shot, it is a pity that passionate individuals are fearful of the challenges that lay ahead and opt for other paths. It would be refreshing to witness more individuals stepping up and out of their comfort zones to present what they have to offer, and also to give themselves a chance.

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A look from (DIS)Association by designer Sheree Toh. Image: Aetll @aetll

Khairyna Mazin: I’d like to see fashion consumers become more educated in their choices. The majority’s perception or liking in fashion is quite shallow. Most of them are only into seemingly “cool” or “pretty” clothes. Because of that a lot of emerging fashion designers are having a hard time trying to break through. I think it’ll take us a lot of effort to actually garner the support from local fashion enthusiasts.

Miyuki Tsuji: The local fashion landscape is very commercialised, and there’s still a lot of space to cultivate different talents and creatives. Despite growth of independent brands, I would still like to see more segregation in the market, and also more inclusivity. This means that as much as we welcome more variety of style, people should also be more open-minded and learn to embrace something fresh.

This, I believe, is doable, but the government also needs to provide more support to new fashion initiatives and see fashion as a vital form of art. Many are not given due recognition, so by offering and creating new platforms, I am sure many more will feel more inspired to contribute and add vibrancy to the local fashion landscape.

Putri Adif: It’s quite rare to see local designers experimenting here in Singapore. They’ve always played safe, they’ve always refused to change, but I understand, there’s always that pressure to sell and ensure the business stays afloat. And the rest of them just disappears, they leave to another city because they know the opportunities are better there, that they’ll be accepted. Local designers, especially the younger ones should not be afraid of trying something new. I’d like to see more of that and I’ll gladly be a part of it. I’d rather have an industry that’s diverse than boring and repetitive.

Lydia Kok: I want the scene to become more independent, self-driven, and diverse. The current landscape is heavily driven for international appeal. This shape of the landscape confines of commercialism and traditionalism and lacks experimentalism. If the scene were to become more refreshing, bold, and individualistic, we solidify the concept of what fashion in Singapore could be.

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Friends of the designers casted as models. Here, they showcase Lydia Kok’s collection, titled “Dystopia”.