As I was having my breakfast of eggs and toast, scrolling through Straits Times, an article struck a chord. “Takashimaya in rent dispute with landlord Ngee Ann City”. I had a whole other post planned out for today until I saw this article and decided to pen down my thoughts. Do note this is coming from my perspective as a fashion designer in a small business.
The retail scene in the world is changing. It seems inevitable to move the business online. This was one of the changes decided on my next launch. A little late to the game, but the timing feels right. As much as going online is a viable step, I can’t help but wonder what is going to happen to the physical retail world?
Walking around Singapore, it feels almost mundane with all the cookie cutter stores. Major fashion stores are also downsizing due to high rent. This seems to be creating a dark cloud in retail and shopping is now becoming more of a chore than an experience to most. It would be interesting to observe how it’s going to change. What is going to be the shopping experience of the future?
You don’t have to be in the industry to know that rent here must be ridiculous. We can go on and on complaining about this issue but that’s not really gonna change anything. We are ultimately fighting for space and market share in a tiny dot, albeit a really strong one.
So why do some of us still do it?
Fashion, in the eyes of designers, is very different from the business itself. It is natural for artists or designers to frown upon mass consumerism because they have their own view of beauty and aesthetics. They do not aim to be another blogshop or forever21, they want their voices heard. I think this is the biggest challenge for designers, to find the right balance between creation and business, to adapt to the market.
Creating a niche in Singapore’s small market share with limited resources is a tough one. Many wonderful local brands fell due to this. However, this also gave rise to strong and unique brands who work doubly hard on how to stand out and move forward with their style and strategy. Those who dare to take that step and showcase their vision to the world deserves respect and support.
Fashion in Singapore is not the easiest path to take and status quo might never understand how we see fashion. It is not superficial like how media has portrayed it to be. You don’t have to be wearing a different outfit everyday to be stylish. There is beauty in the construction and design of clothing, it is not just a cut and paste situation. It is the appreciation of fabrics, finishings, details and style. It is not about what you wear, but how you feel when you put on that outfit. That is the beauty of fashion to me.