Keeping It Authentic: #BuroSocial with Vestiaire Collective at private members club 1880

Walk the talk

Text: Jolene Khor

Inch Chua, Gladys Soh, Charlotte Chen and Rohaizatul Azhar get real about getting real

What does originality look like in today's creative atmosphere?

Buro 24/7 Singapore VIPs and guests of partner-in-style Vestiaire Collective come together for an evening of gab and garb, at a location reflective of the theme in question. 1880, a private members club, is a reinvention of an old concept, marrying exclusivity with modern workspaces, dining and grooming services, as well as curated events with extraordinary individuals such as those hosting the ninth edition of Buro Social, including but not limited to singer-songwriter Inch Chua; Lasalle College of the Arts fashion lecturer Rohaizatul Azhar; founder of skincare brand Everyday For Every Body Charlotte Chen; and Gladys Soh, the brainchild of Goshkids, a startup shaping young minds through photography.

Spearheading the conversation of authenticity is Vestiaire Collective, a Paris-headquartered e-commerce platform specialising in pre-loved high-end fashion. It feels almost impossible that every single item in their carefully curated catalogue is verified for authenticity considering they have some 600,000 pieces of luxury on sale, but yet, it's not. The process is as stringent as one can imagine, carried out by experts specially trained for the trade — the insider secrets of which all four hosts and their 5 friends in attendance of Buro Social session 'Keeping It Real' were privy to between meal courses.

Here are the highlights:


Can you spot the fake Hermès?

The smell of the leather and the way the metal components clank are just some of the tricks to spotting a fake, as Charlotte Chen and her friends learned.

Vestiaire Collective's stringent authentication protocol is what sets it apart from its competitors. That and its impressive catalogue of over 600,000 pieces of pre-loved luxury fashion available to shop on their site.

What's the joke guys? Inch Chua, Joanna Dong and Jian Ping trade laughs with Nathan Hartono.

Desserts are always better shared.

Before the booze disappeared and the lights came up, we picked the minds of a few familiar faces on the price of originality, the struggles of honesty and what it means to be the real deal in 2018.


Keeping It Authentic: #BuroSocial with Vestiaire Collective at private members club 1880 (фото 1)

What does it mean to be the real deal?
It's me, I am the real deal. [Laughs] No but really, being real is being truthful to yourself and to add your personal narrative into whatever you do, whether you're styling your outfit, whether you're at work, or just the way you interact with people.

As fashion often revisits old archives, is anything original anymore?
It's very difficult to find anything original that's new these days. Everything's been done before. Even if you think you have a great idea, a little research will tell you that it's likely been done before in some way or other. The only way to make it original is take what you have and what's been done before and put your own input in that. You put your own spin to it because we all have stories to tell, we have different experiences and different naratives. That is something that will always be unique to the individual. 

Trends are a huge driver in the fashion industry. Ergo, how does one remain relevant yet original in their dressing?
You have to know your style. The '70s and '80s are my favourite time in fashion because those were the eras of personality, or individualisation. People expressed their personalities in the way they dress. There were trends then too, but what made every person's style authentic was their impression of the clothes. Everyone was wearing a jumpsuit, and everyone styled it their own way, by the way they wore their hair or just the way they walked. It's very obvious when someone is blindly following trends, your body knows you better than you think you know yourself. Your gait will be off, the way you stand or the way you sit will be off. You won't feel like yourself completely.

Do you still have your first luxury purchase?
I do and I still wear them all the time. One is this Tiffany & Co. ring I bought myself with my first paycheck at 16 to remind myself that I can buy my own things, I can buy my own diamonds. [Laughs] Not that this is diamond, this is just silver. But good quality silver! My first big fashion item bought with my first full-time paycheck was a Balenciaga Weekender bag. I still carry it sometimes. It looks like it's gone through many wars. People would tell me, "Oh my God, your bag looks like it has gone through five world wars and this world only has gone through two." But there's such a story behind it and till today I can't bring myself to give it away or sell it. 

It keeps you real.
Yes! It keeps me real.

Keeping It Authentic: #BuroSocial with Vestiaire Collective at private members club 1880 (фото 2)

How do musicians stay inspired or pay homage to their heroes while remaining original? 
Nothing's really original anymore these days. In the wise words of Neil Young, "Steal smartly." You can be inspired but at the end of the day, it needs to be digested by you. Your work could almost come out similar to the original yet the fact that it was through your filter, your lens, your experiences, your history, it will come out changed. That's important when you're reliving a sound or a sample — it needs to relate, it needs to connect to you and your interpretation needs to reflect that.

Is authenticity important in music?
You'd be surprised how that question is not thought about these days. Authenticity to me, is about deconstructing. More than anything else, it's about deconstructing yourself and where you're at in the context of everything around you. Thinking what music is about today and building a certain intention or goal will determine a certain end result. That feels like it wouldn't work towards authenticity. If the end goal is "I want it to be authentic" that might already be failing you because what needs to happen is a real deconstruction of the self. Which is what art is meant to do, it's supposed to get you to look inward instead of outwards.

How do you stay authentic as you chase after your dreams?
It's difficult. I will admit, much in my 20s, chasing whatever carrot that was dangled in front of you is extremely important. It affects you in so many ways — your self-worth, what you do, the credibility of what you do. Eventually, what broke down for me as most things do in cycles, is if you keep doing things a certain way and it doesn't work, you will disintegrate into something else. Whatever part of life you're in, it's a cycle. Ride it, you're meant to. And try to be as self-aware as possible and understand where you're at so you can one day return and reflect.

Why is it hard to "keep it real" and be authentic and honest as adults?
This doesn't sound pretty but deep down, humans are straight up imperfect. We're equal parts beautiful and equal parts ugly. We gravitate so much to pleasure and we stay too much on that side of the spectrum that we don't confront a little bit of that ugliness which is extremely important to gain some kind of equilibrium. Pushing boundaries and sitting with your discomfort is a crucial part of the human experience.

CHARLOTTE CHEN | FOUNDER OF EVERYDAY FOR EVERY BODYKeeping It Authentic: #BuroSocial with Vestiaire Collective at private members club 1880 (фото 3)

Where do you go or what do you do to be inspired for original ideas if you're ever stuck in a rut?
Whenever I'm stuck in a rut, I get on a plane and go somewhere foreign. I wander around the streets until I find inspiration from unexpected places, unexpected people, at restaurants, from nature. I'm inspired by random stuff.

How do you stay genuine as you go after your dreams? 
By surrounding myself with people who don't really give a sh*t about whether you're rich or poor, fat or skinny, succesful or not, people who care about keeping it real. I don't know? By going back to the mission statement of why I started my company, going back to the origin story rather than chasing the dollar. 

Why is it hard to "keep it real" and be authentic and honest as adults?
I've a kid so that's really hard. The truth is hard to handle. [Laughs] I have a one-and-a-half year old — I don't want to paint ugly pictures of the world, like, life is sh*t, bad things happen to good people. I don't want to show that to my kid. How do you explain all that? I used to be a Christian, until I had that thought. 

Do you still have your first luxury purchase?
When I was seven years old, we went to Paris and we went to the Louis Vuitton store. My mum bought me this really cute little crossbody pouch that I put my pencils in. That was my firsy luxury purchase and I still have it. It's literally the size of my iPhone.

Keeping It Authentic: #BuroSocial with Vestiaire Collective at private members club 1880 (фото 4)

How do you balance authenticity with art on social media?
My works are usually really bright and colourful; I like to think that is a dedication to my love of colours. You also see a lot of childplay on my Instagram which links to what I'm passionate about — children. At my startup Goshkids, I teach children photography and I curate pop-up workshops. These are the things I'm passionate about and because it's important on social media to know what defines you, my feed has a very strong identity and shows who I am as a person.

Has working with children taught you anything about honesty?
Children are very effortless and they don't try so hard. They're very much themselves, very genuine. Teaching children and being around them has been very inspiring. For instance, I watch them when they draw and they don't have a thought process, they're very daring. They just do it, you know? That inspires me a lot to be a creative myself.

Why is it hard to "keep it real" and be authentic and honest as adults?
Everyone, wherever we go are looking at their phones. People are so into social media that they find what others think of them as more important than who they really are. So there's the tendency to tweak our original, real personality to something else they're not. Sometimes when you talk to someone on Instagram, you think they're one person based on how they talk, but when you meet them they're a totally different person. 

Though authenticity is so celebrated, why do you think we as people, copy one another instead of striving to be individualistic artistically?
We are all trying to look for our own identity. It is a struggle. Personally, I've come a long way myself. It starts with being inspired by someone or looking at their work. You can sometimes be so inspired by it that you convince yourself it's yours but it's not. As a result, you may create something that feels like yours but looks like someone else's and not be aware of it. 

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