If you think I rip off Singapore Airlines’ Singapore Girl iconic tagline, of course I did.
I am a Singapore girl, not the air stewardess kind, unfortunately. I mean I lived here for 11 years. I grew up here. My childhood and teenage hood, and subsequently who I am today are dramatically shaped by this small island. Ultimately, I hold a Singapore passport, and therefore I am a Singaporean.
But as someone who spend 11 years born and bred in Vietnam, and 5 more studying and living in the UK, my identity is multi-faceted. As a result, I constantly struggle with answering the question: who am I and where do I belong?
In my attempt to explain Singapore to an American friend who is about move here, my one repeated line is that ‘you can find everything in Singapore’. And not just the fashion (because we are both fashion marketing students), but anything else that you can think of. Extremely authentic Japanese food in almost every big shopping mall, American TV shows on local channels, prolific British high street fashion like Topshop in every other mall, Malay silk and sequin fabrics on Arab Street, gold and other Indian goods and food in Little India, and Chinatown where you can find pretty much everything Chinese. Singaporeans sure embrace diversity and variety.
This series of 2 shoots were inspired by the desire to understand the Singaporean identity, at least partially through the fashion lens. Is the Singapore girl a fluid identity? Is she someone who, like myself, in the constant quest to explore and affirm her place in the world? Is she continually having to defend and explain who she is, because the mirrors she look into shift and shape her each time. I guess I can never adequately address these question, but I can describe what I observe from the Singapore street fashion.
Diversity and multiculturalism are always celebrated in fashion, especially the fashion of Singapore. Either it is the effect of living 365 days under the sun, or great American influence of casual clothing, or Korean drama inspired cute and understated minimalism, the average Singaporean girl is always in her flats, 3-quarter chinos or shorts and skirts, and a short-sleeve cute blouse/t-shirt. Wandering around the artsy districts, I found girls in culottes, odd cuts of pants and shirts from private labels that only those who seek to look different would find. In the business districts, there are the occasional well dressed office workers in midi dresses and skirts of bold prints, kitten heels and the usual designer bags. The influence of Japanese and especially K-pop culture is huge among the young adults who adorn the bodycon dresses, tight shorts and flat sandals. In general, fast fashion distilled from the latest designer catwalks still dictate the trends on the street. The Singapore girls I observed are still in the process of crafting their own identity with clothes, sometimes with success and other times less so.
For this shoot, I want to paint my version of the Singapore Girl. She is casual (the T-shirt), and comfortable (platform wedge sandals) but still glamorous (sunglasses and floppy hat). There is an ease and comfort in the way she dresses, a kind of played-down glamour that intertwine the trends of the season (key trends this season: umbrella midi skirt, cobalt blue and mustard yellow and stripes) with her personal style (I personally love hats, the colour orange, and cannot live without accessories).
With the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, it is time to look to the future. My fashion wish for Singapore, especially the Singapore women and girls, is that her clothes will reflect neither the trends nor the hype, but her self-assured Singaporean identity.
Special Thanks to Norman Seljaravu @ Above Norm for the photography!
Thank you for reading. Have a great week ahead!
Shot at the Esplanade Walk. To get there: Take the underground (MRT) to City Hall and walk via CityLink.
Top: River Island ( old, £10 on sale @ Singapore)
Skirt: Banana Republic (£12.99, on sale @London)
Detachable collar: Unknown (£5 @Singapore)
Earrings: Jubilant Jewellery
Sunglasses: Primark (£2)
Leather Satchel: Unknown @ British Heart Foundation (£7)
Hat: Primark (£4.50@ Edinburgh)
Shoes: DMK (old £15 @Singapore)
Earrings: Jubilant Jewellery
Foundation: MAC Face and Body
Eyes: The Naked Palette by Urban Decay (£35), P.S Love Primark Mascara (£1), Rimmel Exaggerate Eyeliner in Black (£3.99)
Lip: L’Oreal Color Caresse Shine Stain in Romy
Necklace: Lovisa (RRP £16 @Singapore)
Hat: Non Son (unknown @ Vietnam)