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.
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.”