New to the troop, but armed with dreams beyond our shores, Bessie Ye tells Buro what it means to be a designer on this tiny island
Bessie Ye is the latest creative crusader to join Singapore's growing pool of fashion designers. Recently launching Rye, her homegrown label zeroes in on providing that sought-after everyday effortlessness, brought to life in muted shades and classic shapes — arguably the building blocks of any wardrobe. Clean-cut staples aside, what does it really mean for the 27-year-old to embark on a design journey in our reputedly pragmatic society? "It's an awakening of our artistic instincts to care for the common good, to acknowledge that we belong to the same community," shares Ye. Understanding the importance of accessibility — her price tags go easy on the pocket — and dreaming beyond Singapore's physical boundaries, Ye has her sights set high: "Being a Singaporean and owning a fashion label, we are not just thinking of targeting the local audience. We want to be able to reach out to a demographic beyond our shores." But, before she takes on the world, this designer shares just how she intends on winning over the local women — as well as reflecting on her childhood memories in Singapore that have inspired her to take the path less trodden.
How and when did you come to launch Rye? I started Rye in June this year with the intention of taking fashion at a slower pace, by putting more thought into quality of design, functionality, and fabrication of garments. How would you describe your brand identity? Rye delivers a range of clean-cut wardrobe essentials with a clear approach to pared-down elegance. Relaxed tailoring and simple lines. Signature Rye pieces include our range of white crisp cotton poplin shirts and shirt dresses. Rye aims to provide everyday staples for effortless style; for women who aspire to look understated and cool, without looking like she even tried.
Are your proportions and fit catered to the local woman? Yes, all prototypes are fitted on a local Asian fit model. However, it's hard to generalise the body types because everyone is unique in their own way. I pick a fit model that has a proportionate body shape that carries off the silhouette that Rye offers. Have you considered the local issue of high humidity when creating your designs? Definitely! The collection has to be weather appropriate and calls for certain fabrics to be used appropriately. It's important to pair the right fabric and finishing to the designs. Having recently joined the pool of local designers, how do you pride yourself in being part of this group? I believe we all have our unique appeal to the market, but one thing we all have in common is wanting to shake up the future of local fashion — creating a fashion landscape to inspire and to bring the industry forward. That's definitely something that is very meaningful to me and is something to be proud of!
I always believe in investing in well-crafted pieces that give considerate styling mileage. Effortless style with pared-down elegance will always stay relevant
Do you feel a sense of responsibility as a result? It's an awakening of our artistic instincts to care for the common good, to acknowledge that we belong to the same community. And to find a deeper sense of purpose to foster this community — creating a more positive and alternative future. What are your influences and inspirations when it comes to design? Finding beauty in simplicity very much influences me and my everyday creative process. Tell us about your favourite memories growing up in Singapore. How has this shaped your work today? I was influenced by art and design since young. I grew up exploring the different forms of art and craft, such as painting, sketching and clay work. Also, I read a ton of fashion magazines and window shopped along the now defunct Stamford House, where Singaporean designers used to have their boutiques. Having that artistic foundation and the sense of wonder, it has prepared me to be a better designer.
With National Day drawing near, what is the one quality you possess and are proud of, that is uniquely Singaporean? The Singapore satirical humour — which also means speaking in Singlish and talking absolute nonsense in our own way. It is something that is so authentic and important to our culture. It instantly connects Singaporeans. How would you like to see Singaporean women grow sartorially? I truly respect every woman's wardrobe choices. I begin to realise women in Singapore are getting more knowledgeable and sensible about fashion trends and style. However, I always believe in investing in well-crafted pieces that give considerate styling mileage. Effortless style with pared-down elegance will always stay relevant.