Buying items that last


Painter Oscar Tan treats his purchases like relationships

Q & A

Oscar Tan, Singaporean, 21, photographer and oil painter

How would you describe your sense of style?

I like designs that are safe and not too fanciful, but not mundane-looking either. But I feel that describing it will affect how others view my style. I prefer people to form their own opinion of my style.

When did your interest in fashion start?

I have been painting since I was four years old and I find that painting and fashion are both about self-expression. I see my body as a canvas and I want to express myself through my dressing.

Who are your favourite designers and your go-to brands?

I am not exactly brand-conscious, but I like Hong Kong label Demo because it is traditional yet contemporary, in terms of its designs and cut.

Who are your style icons?

I like New Yorker-style blogger Denni Elias of because of the way she presents herself and her attitude towards style and glamour - every one of her outfits looks like she is attending a fashion show. I have been following her for close to seven years and her style is consistent.

What are the favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

Even if the weather is scorching hot, my staple piece is a long-sleeved turtleneck (photo 1) because I prefer being protected from the sun. I also like my neoprene pants from Alexander Wang x H&M (photo 2), as they are extremely comfortable and can be used for formal occasions and gym sessions. It saves me plenty of time not having to change into sports attire. It is my only pair.

I also like my lion cane from Pasotti (photo 3 and main photo) because it makes me feel majestic and powerful. I was inspired by the English gentlemen of the early 1920s. I bought it as a Christmas present for myself last year at Tangs.

Do you have any weaknesses when it comes to shopping?

Metal round sunglasses with interesting details (photo 4). It also prevents unwanted eye contact with strangers.

What is the most expensive item in your wardrobe?

My limited-edition Dr Martens boots with star studs (photo 5), which I got from South Korea when I was on holiday there this year, for $475. I lost my previous pair of Dr Martens at a gym.

Is there a purchase you have regretted?

No, because I do not like feeling regretful.

What is your most recent fashion purchase?

A black duffel bag from Zara (photo 6), to replace a similar one that was badly damaged.

What is the best shopping or style advice you live by?

Buy what will last and treat it like a relationship - would you want a relationship to be damaged or replaced easily?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline 'Buying items that last'. Print Edition | Subscribe