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Singapore’s fashion lovers and collectors recount their best 2019 buys and share tips to becoming a smarter shopper

Singapore’s fashion lovers and collectors recount their best 2019 buys and share tips to becoming a smarter shopper

Public shopaholic

Text: Ho Guo Xiong


Image: Instagram | @ncwong | @lilyhamid | @camira.asrori

There are those who love fashion, and then there are those who love fashion so much, their obsession manifests into wardrobes upon wardrobes of clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewellery. To uncover and better understand the source of their joy, we speak to five fashion collectors in Singapore about their evolving shopping habits, the stringent criterias they put their purchases through, and the brands that earned their stamp of approval. In short, here's a crash course on how to become a smarter — and more stylish — shopper.

Nicole Wong, content creator and creative at nplusc

How extensive is your fashion collection?
Nicole Wong (NW): They fill a room in my flat and are enough to fit different styles and mood.

How do you shop?
NW: It comes in phases — there are months I don’t buy anything. But when I do shop (which is every two to three months), I buy a few investment pieces at a time after much consideration. Online discounts and deals only entice me if they apply to something I’ve been eyeing or the brands I love.

What do you look out for? 
NW: I think about the style and cut of the piece, how the item is able to fit into my wardrobe, lifestyle, and whether they can be worn past their season. I prefer classic designs and don't believe in investing in trendy pieces. There are some brands I fall back on as I know they work for me, such as Hyein SeoUndercoverJunya WatanabeIssey Miyake, and Comme des Garçons. I am also trying to grow my Sacai collection. Most of my favourites are Japanese; I like them because they tend not to follow the usual design silhouette.

What has been your best fashion purchase this year?
NW: My Louis Vuitton, Sacai, or Ann Demeulemeester boots. I am a huge lover of boots and I’ve been wearing these three constantly. With footwear, I prize comfort over everything else.

Do you attach sentimental value to your purchases?
NW: I don’t. At the end of the day, these are just material items. It is the memories I build while wearing them that I treasure more. Consequently, I would say I am more of a fashion collector than a hoarder as I don’t have attachment issues.

Will your approach to buying change in 2020?
NW: It might change as I realised that I have more pants (I have about 40 pairs) than tops. I have a soft spot for trousers with unique designs such as patchwork and fringe.

Vince Acop, fashion trainer

You love bags. How extensive is your collection?
Vince Acop (VA):
The bags I favour changes with time and personal style. I used to prefer bigger designs such as duffles, weekenders, and oversized totes. Now, I am crazy about smaller crossbody bags and mini bags that can only hold my phone, of which I have about 15.

How do you shop?
VA:
It usually is love at first sight. I would think about whether I can create new and/or multiple looks with the item. If I can picture two to three different looks, it’s a buy.

How often do you make a purchase?
VA:
I buy clothes at least once a month as I like to mix and match and find new ways of styling. For investment pieces like sneakers, bags, or a nice jacket, it would be every quarter or so. I focus on style first, then the brand, and the price. Fit is also important. If I'm shopping online, I would review the return policy before buying so I am able to return the outfit if it doesn't suit my morphology.

Favourite brands?
VA: I go to Zara and COS. Urban Outfitters too, for their vintage selection. I like shopping online on Asos too. I also make it a point to visit local designer boutiques and curated stores wherever I travel to — that’s where I get my unique pieces.

What is your best fashion purchase of 2019?
VA:
Dior Men’s Saddle bag by Kim Jones. It is spacious and I like the silhouette and the new masculine utility buckle designed by Matthew Williams.

Do you attach sentimental value to your purchases?
VA:
Not unless they were given to me as a gift. I usually let go of or sell the things I don’t use anymore. It helps wash the guilt away too!

Will your approach to buying change in 2020?
VA:
In terms of purchasing pattern, it will probably be the same, though with wiser judgment. I’ll also add “buy less” in my new year’s resolution.

Lily Hamid, SocietyA and Spur Shoes general manager

How extensive is your fashion collection?
Lily Hamid (LH): Looking at my wardrobe right now, I’m guessing about 250+ pieces of clothing in total.

How do you shop?
LH: Being plus-sized, it was (and still is) a challenge to shop for stylish and trendy apparels in Singapore, which was why I used to never let slip an opportunity to shop whenever I chance upon apparels that came in XL or XXL, and looked like they would fit. Moreover, I didn’t have the habit of trying them on before buying because it felt like a hassle which meant I ended up with tons of clothes that I haven't worn more than once or twice. My online shopping habits are somewhat similar too. I used to make my purchases based on how the pictures looked and if it was available in my usual sizes.

After a couple of bad purchases, I began to pay closer attention to the product descriptions and read reviews from other shoppers. If the site offers a video of the model wearing and moving in the clothes, I’ll watch it several times and look out for details. This helps me make a well-informed decision about the colours of the clothes and whether to size up or down, which has resulted in more good purchases. I'm also a fan of adding things to my cart and revisiting them to put looks together. It’ll usually take about three to four cart visits before I make a purchase because I need to know that I really want the items.

How often do you make a purchase? 
LH: As the General Manager and Buyer of SocietyA and Spur shoes, loving fashion is in my nature and helping others shop well is my job. On average, I purchase clothes and shoes monthly — online and offline. I don’t purchase accessories or jewellery as frequently. Being in the industry definitely does make me a more discerning shopper. When I’m buying from a store, I love hearing what the salesperson has to say about the item or the designer and allow them to dish out fashion advice as they recommend suitable outfits for me.

What do you look out for when shopping? 
LH: Though I shop pretty regularly, I try to keep to one to two items per purchase. I always make sure I wear everything that I buy and not feel the pinch at the end of the month. I have diapers and baby formula to buy too! Fit is probably the most important thing especially when you’re plus-sized. Not everything looks good on everybody. Likewise, some apparels are just not made for a plus-sized silhouette though they come in extended sizes.

Favourite brands?
LH: I tend to make my fashion purchases from plus-sized American-based retailer Eloquii, Asos Curve, and independent Asian designers that SocietyA stocks including Cassey Gan, PH5, and SOE Jakarta, all of whom I get made-to-measure clothing from. For Eloquii, aside from loving the variety of styles they offer, they essentially just make it so easy to shop. Lots of pictures, product information, reviews, and promotions. Getting made-to-measure clothing done is always such a joy because I know the pieces will fit me perfectly; while the waiting time kills me sometimes, the experience is always worth it.

What is your best fashion purchase of 2019?
LH: The printed and pleated shirt dress from Korean designer Tibaeg. It’s so comfortable and I love the print. It’s one of those pieces I throw on on days I’m rushing out and don’t have time to think about what to wear.

And the worst?
LH: The crocheted pencil skirt with fringe from Eloquii. While I do love shopping online on Eloquii, sometimes things just aren’t what they seem regardless of how detailed my research is. Don't get me wrong, the item looks great on but due to the fabric and design of the skirt, it hooks onto everything. My rings, drawer handles, my handbag, and my daughter loves to run her fingers through the crocheted material. Really beautiful skirt but it should have come with a warning.

Do you attach sentimental value to the items you purchase?
LH: No, not really. I don’t really have many items that I only wear once on a special occasion. Most of my clothes will go through a lot of wears especially now that I’m shopping smarter. If an outfit no longer sparks joy (in the words of Marie Kondo), I will either repurpose or donate it.

Will your approach to buying change in 2020?
LH: I’ve been reading more about sustainable production, fabrics, natural dyes, and I’m compelled to see how I can adopt more of those brands into my buys.

Camira Asrori, fashion designer/stylist

How extensive is your fashion collection?
Camira Asrori (CA): Let's just say I have about 500 pairs of earrings.

How would you describe your shopping habits? 
CA: It used to be really crazy — I’d buy 10 pairs of earrings at one time, clear out the display, or every colour per design. Now, I’m trying to be more environmentally-friendly. So I will limit my purchases to a few quality designs and shop less. I prize quality over price. And the weirder, more interesting the earring is, the more likely I’ll buy it. When I shop online, I'll look for independent designers, save the designs I like, and purchase them when I'm ready or when there's a sale.

What brand(s) do you love?
CA: My favourite earring brand is a Thai designer on Instagram — @klungseesamadun.shop. They have the most unique and bizarre earrings and they’re handmade too. I can only purchase cool statement earrings online because the brands are mainly based overseas.

Would you say you're a fashion collector or hoarder?
CA: I used to be a hoarder but now I would call myself a collector. I only purchase purchases pieces that I’ll keep in my wardrobe for a long time.

Will your approach to buying change in 2020?
CA: Definitely. It has changed and it will keep changing. Even though I’m a fashion enthusiast and we’re expected to wear a different piece every time, I now splurge on better quality and branded pieces that I’ll wear repeatedly.

Adam Choong, creative

How extensive is your fashion collection? 
Adam Choong (AC): I love sneakers. I have more than I need but I don’t have a super crazy collection in a humidity-controlled room or anything. Many pairs are not with me at the moment, but I had a good 80 pairs at my prime. The majority of my sneakers are from Nike. I like evergreen designs like the Nike Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1. They are perfect for casual days and can be dressed with suits.

How would you describe your shopping habits? 
AC: I have to get things that aren’t the “norm”. Crocs, however, will always be on my no-buy list.

How often do you make a purchase?
AC: It used to vary. There was one year I bought two to three creps a month, while there were times where it was just a $60 T-shirt or no purchases at all. Now, I make at least one fashion purchase a month — it could be a T-shirt, pants, trench coat (don’t ask me why), for example. Price matters but I’m more of a brand person. I like to know the history and the ethos of the brand and feel connected with its roots and/or creative director. Quality is also paramount. I’m not paying $100 for a T-shirt that stretches out after a wash or gives me abrasions.

Does that thinking change when you're shopping online?
AC: I don’t like shopping online. But if I do, I look for things I can't get in Singapore. I like shopping in person to touch and feel and try. I want to be immersed with the mood, music, or smells that the designer, brand, and the boutique curates.

What is your best fashion purchase of 2019?
AC: The Louis Vuitton Stephen Sprouse Neverfull. I’ve always wanted it since I first saw it as a kid. It is the first collection that "defaced" the heritage monogram of Louis Vuitton.

And the worst?
AC: Everything. Cause I don’t need them.

Do you attach sentimental value to the items you purchase?
AC: I don’t actively do it. But I do have certain pieces that remind me of a place I’d been or the people I was with.

Will your approach to buying change in 2020?
AC: I don’t know because my habits aren’t informed by the changing of the year, but rather, what I experience. I could strike the lottery and splurge or just grow up and save. One will never know.

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