The Bag Page

Fashion buyer Melanie Keys boosts tradeshow Blueprint with curated brands

To raise the profile of the annual Blueprint tradeshow, the organisers brought an experienced fashion buyer, Melanie Keys, on board.

The annual fashion tradeshow, spearheaded by the Textile and Fashion Federation of Singapore, is now on and open to the public for a shopping event this weekend.

As Blueprint's head of buyer and designer relations with 15 years of experience, the American was responsible for the selection of brands at this year's event at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

There are close to 70 womenswear, menswear and accessory brands from around the world on show.

Participating local labels include fashion brand Pleatation, jewellery label Joanne L. and swimwear brand K.BLU.

Others to note are Taiwanese womenswear label Sophia Wu and German womenswear brand On Trust, which Ms Keys highlighted for their modern minimalist take on fashion.

Explaining the significant drop in the number of exhibitors from previous years, when about 200 brands would take part annually, Ms Keys says the team was deliberately selective this year.

"We really focused on quality and curating the show. It's one thing to pick great products, but how you present them is equally important," says Ms Keys, who moved to Singapore last year as head of the South-east Asia womenswear buying team at online e-tailer Zalora.

She joined Blueprint in January this year. She has also worked as a buyer for American retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's.

The self-professed shopaholic, who is in her 30s, says that she stumbled into fashion buying.

She was taking courses with an eye to a medical degree, but in her third year of undergraduate studies, she took a fashion merchandising elective programme that sparked her interest in the fashion business and steered her off her pre-medical course.

"I was always considered pretty bright, but when I got to my pre-med courses, I realised that I didn't have the discipline required," says Ms Keys, who is single.

She graduated with a degree from Ohio State University's human ecology department, which housed the fashion merchandising programme, and was set on her career path.

"The best part of the job is seeing the sheer joy on people's faces when they purchase something that I selected for the store. It's an amazing feeling that never gets old."


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HER BAG

This is the Celine Luggage that I use as a day bag. I can stuff everything that I need into it. I usually use bags for a whole week, so by the end of it there’s usually quite a lot of stuff in it. I think a great bag helps to complete the look very easily.


7 THINGS IN HER BAG

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1. SCARF

Since I wear a lot of black, I rely on accessories to make everything pop.


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2. NOTEBOOK

Even if I’m just going for a two-second meeting, I’ll have a notebook with me. When I started out in this industry, I worked with old-school buyers and this was how they trained me.


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3. INNISFREE JEJU DAPHNE BLOSSOM HAND CREAM

I have multiple tubes of hand cream in my bag. This was a gift from someone who knows that I love hand creams. I also have one from Nivea and Marks & Spencer right now.


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4. USB STICK

I’m always giving presentations, so this is absolutely essential.


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5. BRACELETS

I often end up with many bracelets in my bag because I’ll take them off, throw them in my bag and forget that they’re there.


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6. DANSKIN TANK TOP

I started doing yoga last year to help me keep calm. I try to go for a class at least four times a week after work.


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7. CARRIE K. SAMPLES

As part of my job, designers often hand me samples of their work. These are pieces from the local jewellery label Carrie K. I like how they are conversation pieces. She’ll be showing these at Blueprint