Singapore Fashion Awards gives nod to bespoke services

The annual event introduces the Bespoke Award on top of 12 others to honour the labels and creative talents in the industry

To reflect the shift in consumer purchasing habits and the growing popularity of bespoke services, a new award has been added to this year's Singapore Fashion Awards (SFA).

The winner of the Bespoke Award will be selected based on the originality and creativity of their bespoke designs, and their ability to convey the story and inspiration behind the bespoke piece while staying true to their brand.

Twelve other awards, including Designer of the Year and Emerging Designer of the Year for both fashion and accessories as well as Best Collaboration, are up for grabs.

SFA, which will take place on Nov 24, honours talented local labels and creative individuals who have made an impact on the Singapore fashion scene.

The annual awards, organised by the Textile and Fashion Federation of Singapore (Taff) and supported by DesignSingapore Council, is back for its second year after a hiatus of about 10 years.

The awards also acknowledge other creative talents who have contributed to the growth of Singapore's fashion industry. Awards will be given to the top make-up artist, hairstylist, stylist and photographer.

Models dressed in labels (from left) Nuboaix, Aijek and Dzojchen. Designers of these brands have been nominated for the Designer of the Year Award (Fashion).
Models dressed in labels (from left) Nuboaix, Aijek and Dzojchen. Designers of these brands have been nominated for the Designer of the Year Award (Fashion). PHOTO: STILLUSION PHOTOGRAPHY

This year, judges of the awards include fashion retail and brand consultant David Wang, Singapore actress Janice Koh, fashion designer Thomas Wee and fashion retailer Tina Tan-Leo.

Eight brands are vying for the Top 3 Most Popular Brands of the Year.

The contenders are Benjamin Barker, Beyond The Vines, By Invite Only, Collate the Label, Klarra, Matter Prints, The Mindful Company and Love, Bonito.

Since it is a popularity award, the organisers are opening it up to the public, who can vote online at Voting opened on Tuesday and will close on Nov 9.

Taff's chief executive officer Lynette Lee tells The Straits Times that the event is "a platform for the industry to recognise talents, profile new and existing brands and, in the longer term, to attract new talents into the industry".

She adds: "SFA can help to revitalise the fashion industry by injecting the buzz and media attention on the designers. "

SFA was launched as a biennial award in 2001 until the mid-2000s before it was stopped, but Ms Lee, who joined Taff in 2013, is unable to provide details on why the awards did not continue after that year.

The event was revived last year as an annual affair.

In 2014, Taff had worked with jewellery label Carrie K. to open a 16-month pop-up store called Keepers: Singapore Designer Collective in Orchard Road, which closed in January last year.

Keepers, a multi-label retail store showcasing Singapore brands, was conceptualised in 2011 by Carrie K. founder Carolyn Kan and has held multiple pop-ups and installations.

After the Orchard Road space closed, Ms Kan moved Keepers to her atelier at the National Design Centre and Taff sought another platform to promote Singapore labels.

Ms Lee says: "The main objective for Keepers was to tell the world that we have amazing design talents in Singapore.

"We achieved $1.7 million worth of media publicity locally and internationally. After Keepers closed, Taff did not want efforts to fizzle out and hence conceptualised SFA."

The ultimate aim of the awards, she adds, is to support home-grown brands so they can expand their business locally or internationally.

Ms Rebecca Ting, 30, co-founder of contemporary womenswear label Beyond The Vines, which is nominated for the Emerging Designer award for fashion, says: "It is encouraging to be nominated.

"The awards are great exposure for smaller labels. I don't know how much it will help commercially, but I think it does raise awareness for brands."

She hopes the awards will continue annually to create greater impact.

"I also hope they add more award categories such as one for the design of retail stores. This could encourage more brands to look at the full store experience."

Founder and designer of Aijek Danelle Woo, 38, a nominee for the Designer of the Year for fashion, says she appreciates the recognition that the awards will bring.

"Being an entrepreneur and designer in Singapore can be a lonely journey. And it's not always easy to know where you stand."

One of the judges, Mr Wang, adds that the recognition matters as it brings attention to emerging designers and contributors who otherwise may not be known.

"It adds to the viability and sustainability of their business. For established designers, it is also an opportunity to honour them for their contributions.

"Now with the Internet, all the more they require a platform to give them some well-deserved attention and shine a light on their works."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2017, with the headline Singapore Fashion Awards gives nod to bespoke services. Subscribe