OM by Ong Shunmugam: The key pieces to shop from Singaporean designer Priscilla Shunmugam’s new diffusion line
Everything in between
Real talk: Singaporean labels have a longevity problem. Chalk it up to whatever reasons you will, but the historically mayfly-like lifespan of local brands makes celebrating the rare success stories all the more crucial. Enter Ong Shunmugam's new diffusion line OM, which — apart from signaling promising growth — deftly translates designer Priscilla Shunmugam's dressy aesthetic for daywear. "We have clients who’ve shared that their best pair of trousers are from us, and who ask for them in basic colourways like navy or black for everyday use," Shumugam relates. "These are the women OM exists for."
She continues: "There are enough options out there if you’re looking for black trousers or a pencil skirt, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re seeking locally-designed clothing that strikes the right balance between aesthetic value and proper manufacture, I think it’s still a challenge." Much like the new venture's title, which removes all but the first and last letters of the mainline name, OM pares things down to the bare essentials with the objective of helping women feel self-assured in the workplace.
"These days, there is a shift towards a more casual way of dressing. But brands have forgotten that plenty of working women still operate in a very traditional corporate milieu, despite rising higher in our careers than ever. How much we’re allowed to project our personalities in the workplace through fashion remains a grey area — and OM is here to help our clients navigate that decision." You'll hear no objections from us on the matter.
Below, Buro.'s favourite pieces from OM's debut collection, in the designer's own words.
The L7C asymmetric jacket
"We designed the L7C to behave like a vest, in that you can either wear it on its own, or layer it over a dress or a tank top; the sleeve is similar to that of our classic Meena cheongsam, which was a conscious but subtle adaptation of our mainline signatures. It's versatile, lightweight (we avoided adding too much interfacing, to prevent stiffness), and minimally-tailored (it fastens with adjustable, internal ties), so it's an easy option to pack for your travels, or to put on for meetings and remove while in transit through Singapore's warm climate. That having been said, we still wanted it to have some structure, which explains the simple, pleated detailing at shoulder."
The D7 tent dress
"The super light and airy D7 dress/tunic is a completely new design that's perfect for Singaporean weather. This cobalt and sand colourway is a little offbeat, and is better-suited to someone who works in the creative industries, perhaps (although we're also issuing it in timeless black and white). Our designs usually cater to a wide age range, but we hope that quirky, accessibly-priced OM pieces like the D7 will speak most to younger women who are starting out professionally.
Several such women have visited our studio to try on stuff, and told us that, having neither the occasion nor the disposable income for our mainline designs, they have to make a real effort to save up for them or to justify their purchase. On the one hand, it's flattering that people are willing to work towards buying our pieces as a goal, but on the other I sympathise, because I was in their position 10 years ago."
The J25 wraparound top
"We first issued the J25 in brocade, for our cruise 2016 collection four years ago. It was such a popular design amongst a wide range of women, and I loved seeing them all wear it in very different ways; some chose to layer pieces under it, while others who were more comfortable exposing skin wore it as is. I like to think of it as my contemporary answer to the vest of a three-piece suit."
The C2C high-waisted trousers
"These trousers are a relatively new style from last year's cruise collection. It was originally released in two batik colourways and a brocade, all of which sold out quickly. Months after, we still had women DMing us on Instagram, emailing us, and making in-person entreaties to re-run them.
For this version, we made sure the pleats extended all the way down to the cuff, which width was carefully considered and interfaced to retain some structure; and with the right fabric choice, pleats drape properly, the item holds shape better, and pocket openings don't sag. I truly think they're the best trousers we've ever made, especially since we spent so much time perfecting them."
OM by Ong Shunmugam is now available at the brand's Chip Bee Gardens studio.
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