First look: Interview with Velda Tan and the launch of Collate The Label
Retailer to designer
There are many reasons why you should know Velda Tan by now. She is after all, no stranger to the blogging, fashion and social media scene in Singapore. Better known as @Belluspuera to her 117,000 over Instagram followers (that's probably growing as we speak), this social media starlet and entrepreneur is a force to be reckoned with.
Making a big leap from retailer to designer, the ex-co founder of one of the most popular local blog shops, Love Bonito officially launched her very own line called Collate The Label today. Her debut collection was presented at her very first runway show at Singapore Fashion Week. No mean feat for her first foray into fashion designing.
Releasing only a few campaign images as a sneak peek to what's to come, Tan kept the collection tightly under wraps from both the media and fans until it was unveiled just moments ago. Buro 24/7 sat down with the fashion mogul in the midst of her preparation to get the inside scoop on the label, the collection and what fashion means to her.
Velda, tell us what inspired you to become a fashion designer...
My interest in fashion began from a young age when my mother would dress me up for church every Sunday. Growing up with two sisters also meant having access to a greater variety of clothes. This also allowed me to experiment with different looks and eventually develop my own style. Fashion was also a visual platform where I could express myself and relate to people. I guess that naturally led me to wanting to be a fashion designer so that I can create pieces that allow women the freedom to express themselves in a stylish way too.
How was Collate The Label born?
Being in the fashion industry for close to a decade, I realised that there was a lack in well-designed, good quality and affordable apparel for modern and sophisticated women. Collate The Label was created to speak to these women and do what I'm passionate about. To make my dream a reality, I needed to refine my skills, so I enrolled in practical and theory courses in Central Saint Martin and London College of Fashion. I had the opportunity to equip myself with fundamental skills and gained valuable knowledge on the industry.
The name is meant to inspire women to develop their individual style by putting together pieces that represent their personality.
Why the decision to keep things a secret?
When the team and I were planning the debut, we envisioned ourselves as the audience in the show and thought about what they would like to see. As a new label, we thought it would be nice to keep the suspense and give the audience something to look forward to. I also wanted to highlight the effort that goes into the design and creative process that goes unnoticed for e-commerce and fashion. So you will notice that there is a lot more focus on the behind-the-scenes work leading up to the show versus sneak peeks of the collection.
What has the creative and design process been like so far?
The process was very much organic. We kicked off by putting together a storyboard of ideas and inspirations, followed by a sourcing trip to look for the right fabrics and trimmings to convey the mood of the collection. Brainstorming sessions and discussions ensured that the best materials were used. After reaching a consensus, we commenced with the initial sketches, shortlisted them and matched the appropriate fabrics to achieve the silhouettes we wanted. The last step was to create the actual samples and get them made.
What do you think sets Collate The Label apart from other local brands?
The market space for affordable blog-shops, multi-label e-retailers and high-street fashion brands is rather saturated in Singapore. Growing up at a time when e-commerce was picking up, I saw a gap for affordable, well-designed and good quality wardrobe essentials that transcend trends and fads. Collate The Label caters to exactly that market. Design-wise, we create classic pieces with a modern update that are timeless wardrobe essentials.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the collection.
The inspiration for the collection is about journeying Beyond the Borderline — bringing consumers to a space where creativity takes over. It's about disregarding the pretext of fashion and reinventing one's style on a blank canvas. From simple pieces to dramatic silhouettes, the collection represents versatility curated into different looks.
Describe the woman you design for.
Collate The Label speaks to the everyday woman who is independent and confident. Her approach to aesthetics is subtle yet tasteful. She believes in the mantra "less is more".
Described as an 'affordable luxury clothing line', how was this achieved?
We put our customers at the centre of what we do. For many, 'luxury' is perceived as high quality with a hefty price. We aspire to reverse that mind set by creating well-made apparel at a fair price and not compromising on quality for commercial bottom-line.
How does one recognise quality when shopping online?
Even as a shopper myself, this is one shortfall I face when shopping online. Quality is hard to gauge at a glance. What I find really helpful is the amount of information willingly provided by the brand such as accurately produced product images and detailed fabrications. At Collate, we realise that customers find seeing the clothes in action helps. So we will be including a video segment for every design sold on our website. We believe this effort will help our customers recognise quality when they shop with us. In the long run, to instill confidence in our shoppers, the surest way to promise quality is to deliver consistency.
If you could choose to have your boutique in any retail location in the world, where would it be?
Dover Street, London. It's home to many successful independent labels such as Rag & Bone, Acne Studio and Victoria Beckham. I also love how well it represents London's fashion scene with a good mix of high-street and luxury brands.
You'll be selling your clothes on your e-commerce site, are you considering opening a physical boutique?
A physical store is definitely something we hope to have in the future, but e-commerce will remain our main priority for now. A new label like ours still needs to understand the rapidly changing retail landscape a little better. For a start, we are exploring pop-up spaces to complement our online presence. Tangs Orchard is going to be our first pop-up location from 18 May to 7 June. These short stints will give us insights into what our customers are looking for while shopping in a physical space.
What is next for yourself and the brand after SFW?
At the moment, we are already working on our fall/winter collection. Collate The Label will release four collections yearly — spring/summer, pre-fall, fall/winter and holiday.