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What is Singapore fashion? This competition invites local designers for their take

Fashion may be having an identity crisis at the moment, what with runway shows going digital and brands joining Animal Crossing, but on our shores, it’s fashioning itself a new face.

And it could be any one of the nine local designers that have been shortlisted for Singapore Stories 2020, a fashion competition organised by the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF).

Every year, Singapore Stories shines a spotlight on homegrown design talents by inviting them to create a themed capsule collection. Mirroring the Met Gala that would have been, this year’s competition revolves around time and fashion — more specifically, Singapore fashion, from its multicultural past to its unwritten future.

Designers will get to mine inspiration from the Asian Civilisations Museum where, come 10 September, five finalists will present their work to a panel of judges hailing from the fashion industry. The winner won’t just walk away with the prestigious Singapore Fashion Award; they’ll also get an exhibition dedicated to their work at the museum (much like Chinese couturier Guo Pei did last year), a launch with the Asian multi-label fashion retailer SocietyA, and the chance to showcase at Paris Fashion Week next year.

Those opportunities would be too hard to pass up for the candidates in the running, who come from all sides of the local fashion industry. There are some familiar names in the mix, such as Carol Chen, founder of designer dress rental service Covetella, as well as Cara Chiang, whose family-run business CYC is celebrated for its tailored shirts and, more recently, its efforts to make masks for migrant workers.

There are also relative newcomers, such as Su Pei Ho, whose design experience at Burberry and Preen now informs her slow luxury label, Su by Hand. Her focus on sustainability is sure to give her an edge in the competition, as are the craftsmanship of designers like Nida Tahir Shaheryar, Desti Saint and Kanzi Collection’s Muhammad Abdat, who are known for weaving in their Asian heritage. It’s that same heritage that Mette Hartman hopes to preserve through her label MARTHAwho, which offers handmade batik scarves and caftans.

On the other end of the spectrum is Adelyn Putri, who creates feminine and modern pieces for her label, Nude Femme. The same can be said of Jaime Lim, who helms [in]trigue, a conceptual jewellery brand inspired by architecture and nature.

As part of the competition, all nine designers will also be mentored by leading experts in the fields of design, retail, commerce, and media. That includes Tjin Lee, former chair of Singapore Fashion Week, Longchamp general manager Mollie Jean De Dieu, SocietyA founder Lay Peng Pek, and Peter Thewlis, who previously held management titles at Ermenegildo Zegna and Burberry.

With its focus on nurturing and supporting local talents, a competition like Singapore Stories is more important than ever. “In these challenging times, the local fashion industry is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Perng Aw, TaFF’s Marketing and Events Director. “TaFF recognizes this, and the increased need to create platforms and opportunities for promising designers.”

Find out more and stay tuned for updates on Singapore Stories here.

Hero image courtesy of Su by Hand.

Pameyla Cambe
Senior Writer
Pameyla Cambe is a fashion and jewellery writer who believes that style and substance shouldn't be mutually exclusive. She makes sense of the world through Gothic novels, horror films and music. Lots of music.
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