When The Temperature Dipped

It did not even go below twenty, yet many people saw a need for puffer jackets! Surely, we’re made of sterner stuff? Or maybe not

Winter in SG 2018By Mao Shan Wang

This week, we experienced an equatorial “winter”.

At first, it was the jokes. A friend of mine, in a group chat, was reading aloud the lively dialogue among his Penang-born Singaporean cousins: “Autumn in SG”; “Cold, cold, cold”; “It’s winter going into spring”; “We can wear our Japan winter clothing”; “Hahaha…”

Then there was the ST article the day before, “The Big Chill: Coping with the cold and the rain in Singapore”. The big chill! Coping! How difficult the chill! ST Life journalist Alyssa “Wedder” Woo, in a video report for the online edition of the paper, claimed that “tourists and Singaporeans are taking the opportunity to don their winter wear”, with one interviewee in a lightweight duster coat confirming Ms Woo’s observation: “I’m wearing my trench coat like winter in Europe or somewhere!”

It must be cold, the chill!

I did not feel it, but I sure saw it. This morning, in the slowest train in the world, the East-West line of the MRT, I saw so many commuters in sweatshirts that I was certain the price of French terry spiked. People didn’t look like they were dressed to go to work; they appeared to be going to the cinema. As the train became a sardine can, I moved inwards and sighted the first quilted jacket of the day! Three seats away, a napping chap was in a full-zip jacket, zipped all the way to the top, face further obscured by a similarly coloured face mask. Then a woman in a wool-knit varsity jacket appeared. By the doors, a guy in a faux leather biker jacket and another in a pile-lined zip-up hoodie. Was there any Uniqlo’s famed Heattech innerwear under all that?

During lunch, I was at Orchard Central and out of curiosity, I dropped by Uniqlo. There was an extraordinary large number of office ladies, and at the queue to pay, nearly everyone was buying an outer, particularly a hoodie and the ultra-light down! Who would need down on a 23°C day? I wondered too soon. As I was leaving, into my view came a thirtysomething couple descending on the escalator wearing identical grey puffer jackets!

What impressed me this afternoon was a severe lack of T-shirts and shorts. There were virtually no denim cut-offs! Bare legs were as enclosed as bare arms. I do not remember when I last saw so many stocking-ed limbs—opaque black, no less. The décolletage had gone into hiding too. Neckwear was having a moment, especially neck warmers. Modest fashion should have made the headlines.

In the early evening, I took a bus to Raffles City. As I moved to the rear, I saw a guy in a thick, pull-over hoodie. That wasn’t surprising, but the ear muffs were! I looked out of the bus window to be certain it wasn’t snowing. I looked at him again. He looked very comfortable, very “big chill”.

After dinner, I was walking to the slowest train in the world, when something literally stopped me in my tracks: a pink fur jacket that could have been from Tom Ford’s Gucci of fall 2001! The woman—a bud of no more than twenty three—was cigarette-dragging-happy, the puffs of smoke acting as visible breath, the condensation of winter freeze. How appropriate!

According to ST, the coldest day in Singapore was in January 1934: it was 19.4 degrees that day. What did people at that time wear? According to my mother, no one heard of down. Uniqlo wasn’t even born.

Photos: Zhen Jiepai

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Portage In These Kicks

Bag maker Manhattan Portage now carry sneakers? With help from Puma, they are offering rather enticing pairs

Puma X Manhattan Portage

This season, one of the most attractive sneakers with camouflage print is Nike’s ‘Country Camo’ treatment for their all-time fave, the Air Force 1. Joining the handsomeness of military motif for feet is this pair of Puma Clyde Zip, conceived in collaboration with Manhattan Portage (MP), mostly known for their sturdy messenger bags. These version looks nothing like the original Clyde, a basketball shoe named after the American NBA star Walt “Clyde” Frazier.

The “Zip’’ edition of the Clyde is unmistakably post-classic, and it is immediately obvious why it receives such a moniker. In keeping with the trend to add horizontal zippers to more trad silhouettes, such as the Y-3 Stan Zip Low-top Neoprene (another sneaker we love!), Puma has given its own a striking fillip. But more than the practical—and for many, useful—detail, there’s also the rather distinctive buckle and strap at the forefoot, as well as lace secures for the entire length of the tongue. How many ups are there against Nike? (Smiley optional)

The New York-based Manhattan Portage’s collaboration with the Herzogenaurach-headquartered Puma, interestingly, isn’t just about shoes (there are two styles, including the Clyde Sock). There are also, as you would have thought, the bags, which reminds us of the Timberland X Porter collab: smart and usable, but unsurprising.

In fact, if you walk into the Manhattan Portage flagship in 313@Somerset, you’ll mostly see rather conventional bags. In Japan, the picture is quite different. Early this year, they have collaborated with Undercover to spread the latter’s Chaos/Balance mantra via MP’s messenger bags. Previously, in 2010, they’ve incorporated Frapbois’s almost cute graphics into messengers as well. They have also teamed with Tokyo-based retailers such as Freak Store and Beams to yield rather fetching, covetable results.

While nothing exceptional can be picked out at the local MP store, just next door at Limited Edt Vault, this pair of fine-looking sneakers, awaiting appreciative owners, are ready to be unlaced, unbuckled, and unzipped.

Puma X Manhattan Portage Clyde Zip, SGD165, is available at Limited Edt Vault. Photo: Puma

This Camera Bag

By Low Teck Mee

When I travel, I want to minimise the amount of bags and such that I carry. The thing is, when I have my camera—the Sony α7—with me, I always bring a small camera bag. This is a hard case that does not fit into the over-stuffed rag I always take along into the aircraft. So I end up carrying two bags, which, to me, is one too many for the limited space of the cabin. Until I met this nifty little pouch from the Japanese bag maker Artisan & Artist.

When I first saw this, I thought it was a toiletries bag! It is soft and it sure is sized like one. But when I freed it from the broad elastic band that held it secure (like our parents once did with books) and opened the flap cover, I realised that it is padded to house a camera or a couple of lenses. There’s something about the bag—I can’t quite describe now—that makes it extremely desirable to hold. Maybe it’s because it’s not too structured. Maybe it’s because it fits beautifully in the palm. What’s unmistakable is its construction.

As the story goes, A&A, as the brand is affectionately called, answered to the request of Japanese TV star Rina (not to be confused with model/pop sensation Rina Sawayama) for a small bag that can be used to house her Leica M series (fancy!) and be placed in, say, an overnighter. The result was the Rina Case, a zip-top, neoprene-interior, cosmetic-pouch-like bag that no serious photographer, even using a Leica, would be seen in one.

A&A was quick to react (read: listen to their customers) and the update on the Rina Case is this ARCAM-75 camera pouch. This is nothing fancy and its lack of bombast makes it especially attractive. The Japanese-ness can’t be missed: this could have been a kinchaku bento pouch minus the drawstrings. In fact, I was most impressed by the ARCAM-75’s lack of hardware. All it has to secure the flap cover to the body is the elastic band. Inside, it is roomy enough to hold a small camera system or two not-especially-long lenses.

Simple and functional, and a total contrast to the high-tech kit it is expected to hold. I like.

Artisan & Artist camera pouch, SGD109, is available at Zeppelin & Co, Sim Lim Square. Photo: Jim Sim

Happy New Year

New Year 2018 greeting SOTD

It has been a in-a-blink 2017 and a newsworthy one, as we have been relating to you here in SOTD. Thank you for your encouraging support, especially for the long-form posts that we prefer here. From all of us at SOTD, have a blessed year ahead.

(2017) Winter Style 6: A Bomber Re-Imagined

Christian Dada Jinbei Bomber AW 2017

A military-style bomber jacket, also known as a flight jacket, has in recent years been de rigueur, thanks to its omnipresence in the street style choices of pop and Instagram stars, so much so that retailers everywhere are pressured into selling at least one, although likely a totally uninspired version.

When we encountered this bomber jacket, we were enamoured. Regular readers of SOTD realize how much we love hybrid garments and this one by Christian Dada is in top form. The front is especially appealing because of its semblance to traditional Japanese jinbei (甚平) top, essentially a summer garment (that also includes a pair of shorts, which, therefore, is not like the yukata, which is more of a summer kimono), mostly worn at home and, if outside, usually no further than the gate to collect mail or newspaper.

Christian Dada’s take is, without doubt, meant to be worn much further than the front yard. In place of the tradition ribbed collar and zipper closure, the quilted nylon body has a front with the eri (衿or collar) of the jinbei and is fastened by tape of similar fabric as the jacket. The left sleeve sport a utility pocket no different from a standard-issue bomber jacket. It even has the orange (polyester) satin lining that is usually associated with rescue missions. The padded jacket, we were told, is reversible, but we doubt anyone would want to turn out with the bright orange as a front (although, if you do, you’ll be wearing on the upper left chest sans-serif black text that says ‘nirvana’ in English and Japanese).

To be sure, this is not a Japanese flight jackets worn by kamikaze pilots. This is very much the punk/military idea of designer Masanori Morikawa, who is never afraid to mash things up to yield an effect that is aligned with street sensibility. There’s an element of surprise in this too, which is often missing in clothes that mostly serve to bundle their wearers. Sometimes, it really is not that cold, and you don’t have to zip up to the chin.

Christian Dada ‘Jinbei’ bomber jacket, SGD850, is available at Christian Dada, 268 Orchard Road. Product photo: Fake Tokyo. Collage: Just So

(2017) Winter Style 5: The Sock Sneaker

Buddy sock sneaker

The whole sock sneaker trend does not seem to be abating, not when Balenciaga’s monkish Speed Trainer, already a year-old, is still very much the one to cop, at least according to a survey by e-retailer Lyst in partnership with Business of Fashion. The knit upper on a sneaker mid-sole is, of course, not new since Nike created the Flyknit and preceded most (dare we say all?!) with their Sock Dart and Sock Racer. On the high fashion front, Chanel took it a notch higher, literally, by affixing socks on heels some three years back.

Amid so many sock sneakers available this season, from Adidas’s Crazy Explosive to Zara’s Stretch Fabric High Top, we’re partial to this pair from the Japanese shoe (and bag) brand Buddy for one obvious reason: they really appear like a pair of socks (that you might buy for the Christmas season) sitting atop old-school rubber mid-soles. Once you slip into them, the palpable comfort aside, they stare back at you as socked feet in Converse Chucks with invisible uppers!

We are not certain if these sweater-knit-like sneakers will be warm enough for severe winter weather (they are definitely not water repellent for snow or rain), but they are truly an easy-to-put-on sneaker, with a welcome snug too. And they sure are much more fun and attention grabbing than a pair of severe black boots. Be warned: your foot, however, won’t survive the inattentive, heavy-footed commuter in a crowded subway train.

Founded in 2012, Buddy makes rather classic looking sneakers with supremely good materials and includes details such as zips for their lace-ups (in case you prefer the easier way to get out of your shoes). So admirably well made are their shoes that Dover Street Market Ginza offered an exclusive Mary Jane, early this month, called the “English Pointer” that quickly sold out within weeks of its release. What’s truly special about Buddy is the refinement in which every pair of of their shoes is infused with. These are reliable sneakers for every day, year in, year out.

Buddy knit sock sneaker, SGD199, is available at Robinsons The Hereen. Photo: Zhao Xiangji

(2017) Winters Style 4: The Bib-Hoodie

COS padded hood AW 2017

Jackets and coats with a hoodie are, for many, winter staples, but they may look a smidgen too street. But sometimes, a hoodie is useful, such as during times of inclement weather or when you need to be really bundled up to feel warm. What if you can add a hoodie to any outer you already own without actually buying one that comes attached?

When we first spotted this at the COS store in ION orchard, a sales assistant helpfully told us that this is a “fake hoodie”. Quite amused by the on-trend description, we wanted to see how forged it was. In essence, this “padded hood”, as COS officially calls it, is a hooded, zip-up bib, so compactable that it’s really a very handy extra to carry in even a handbag.

The sleeveless top comes cropped—ending slightly below the bustline—which, to us, makes it more fetching than a vest. It, too, allows for much more interesting layering since you can play with different lengths as counterpoint to a heavy and possibly ponderous overcoat.

The same assistant also told us that a man’s version is available as well—reason to look like a romantic twosome! When we asked if the “fake hoodie” is filled with down, the reply was simple: “polyester”. Were we expecting too much?

COS ‘Padded Hood’, SGD115, is available at COS stores. Product photo: COS. Collage Just So

They Say M Is Marvelous

Skincare | What has been touted as the first “true anti-ageing serum” by a Singapore-grown beauty brand isn’t mere talk. There’s magic in the M+

 

Jyunka M+ Fluid

If you are a regular duty-free shopper up in the sky with Singapore Airlines, and the KrisShop magazine is your preferred source of reading material and retail therapy, you may remember seeing in the Beauty Hall pages a Japanese-sounding name that offers a potion simply called Jyunka M+ Fluid. In the accompanying caption, KrisShop raved that “many call this the Rolls-Royce of vitamin C treatments”. A possibly Nippon-born name with suggestion of English automobile engineering is intriguing enough until you learn that Jyunka, although a Japanese word (純華or kanji for ‘pure essence’), is, in fact, a Singaporean brand.

What’s also remarkable is that Jyunka products sell in the region of three figures, and sits mere pages away from skincare heavyweights such as Estée Lauder’s Night Repair and SKII’s Facial Treatment Essence. Yet, Jyunka M+ Fluid is able to hold its own, seemingly unperturbed by the presence of the prominent; its handsome little bottle hinting at efficacy and radiating luxury.

The M+ Fluid is Jyunka’s star product and the first in a line of science-based skincare that parent company Laponie, distributor of European heritage and salon brands such as Maria Galland and Filorga, has been developing in the past ten years. M+ Fluid’s debut back in 2007, while relatively quiet, left a deep impression in the business of beauty simply because no one had thought it was possible to capture what it did in a bottle. The selling, too, of the formula under a local brand name by a company—36 years old to date—mainly known as a distributor of skincare brands was considered chancy.

Jennifer LengFounder of Jyunka Jennifer Leng

Unlike discoveries of miracle liquids in Japan involving accidental findings in paddy fields, the story of the 10-year-old M+ Fluid and the founding of Jyunka are a lot more prosaic. As the corporate telling goes, founder Jennifer Leng has been on a quest for the ultimate skin-soothing and strengthening formula for her hyper-sensitive and oily skin. Ms Leng’s work brings her into contact with scientists working on the most cutting-edge of research, and one of them is a Japanese individual who had been developing a stable form of vitamin C that, when applied, can reach the basal layers of the skin via an advanced delivery system.

Scientists and dermatologists know that vitamin C is beneficial to the skin, but it is notoriously difficult to stabilise and transport into the deeper layers below the dermis where it can do its regenerative and anti-aging work. Getting deep enough is like going to the centre of the earth: it’s simply hard to make the trek. The Japanese scientist, who is presumably a trade secret and hence remains unnamed, was able to encapsulate l-ascorbic acid, considered to be a superior form of vitamin C, using QuSomes, trade name for a form of liposome that are like a spherical layered cake (kueh lapis?), consisting concentric films of the lipophilic (oil-soluble) and the hydrophilic (water-soluble) active ingredients.  Without getting more scientific, this means nano-sized particles that are supposed to be able to reach further and faster down the skin to make a visible difference on the surface.

The ability to send l-ascorbic acid unadulterated to where it is needed most in the skin led to the formulation of the precursor of M+ Fluid, the Multi-Action Miracle Fluid. So thrilled was Ms Leng with her new product and so unwavering in her trust in its efficacy that she had a small batch produced in Japan—enough to yield 300 7-milliltre bottles. Although commercial packaging was not ready, Ms leng was not willing to hold back the Multi-Action Miracle Fluid and, according to her son Keefe Chie, who joined the family business to expand Jyunka’s reach, availed it in small tinted pharmaceutical bottles, all affixed, by hand, with a hastily printed label. This was sold at S$80 a pop, and it would not be unreasonable to compare the sell-out to hot cakes. “My mom started in this business because she has sensitive skin,” Mr Chie said. “She’s allergic to dust and so she’s always looking for only the best products to use and sell. Junkya is a commitment to that.”

Jyunka M+ Fluid 1st Gen to presentEvolution of Jyunka M+ Fluid

Ten years, three packaging revisions, and one name change later, the formula that Ms Leng brought back from Japan in 2007 to launch Jyunka has not received upgrades that characterise, for example, the tech world: M+ Fluid remains exactly the same colourless and odourless potion that first appeared in those tiny, brown, black-screw-capped bottles. Now a ‘secret’ of aficionados and a fave of (gasp) beauty-bloggers, M+ Fluid is hailed as a Singaporean beauty breakthrough, even if it was conceived in Japan and is now produced in France (Japan became less ideal after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011). Jyunka remains on the firmament of premium skincare lines despite the entrance of newer-comers such as Skin Inc and Dr GL.

What works in M+ Fluid’s favour is its total ease of use. If the texture of any skin treatment determines how it can convince adopters that there is indeed pleasure of use, M+ Fluid wins hands-down with its easy-to-like viscosity and lightness. Once the recommended five to six drops of the clear fluid touch the palm, they feel like oil, but when spread over the face, it has the weightlessness and the lack-of tackiness of water. The absorption of M+ Fluid into the skin is rapid and, surprisingly perhaps, the skin is matte. When a moisturizer is layered over it, the skin remains shine-free. The discernible result, even from first use, is truly rather remarkable, if not describable. After two weeks, the skin appears finer and brighter.

Ms Leng said, via a media release, that “ageing skin is a key concern that everyone faces, and our products are designed to not just heal and restore, but also to prevent and protect from deep within the skin.” While that may be read as PR persuasion, a visit to the newly opened Jyunka Concept Centre—retail space and face spa—in Pacific Plaza could illustrate that Ms Leng wasn’t merely talking. Former model Nora Tien and now Jyunka’s Business Development Manager, who was there when we visited, showed us two photographs on her smartphone. One was of her before she joined the brand and the other a couple of months after she accepted the post. “This is real,” she emphasised, “The ‘after’ is really what I look like now. I never thought this could be possible: believe it.”

Jyunka M+ Fluid, SGD344, is available at Jyunka Concept Centre, Pacific Plaza. Photos (main): Jim Sim; (others): Jyunka

West Goes Eastwards? Or Is It The Other Way Round?

American classic courts Nippon innovation: Timberland pairs with Porter. Should the Japanese have budged?Timberland X Porter 2-Way Boston BagBy Ray Zhang

Who proposed first? That is the question, but it’s probably inconsequential to those who consider this a marriage in heaven. To me, the Japanese bag brand Porter is so strong in its designs and its branding that it really requires no collaboration with an American brand to elevate the former’s standing among serious bagaholics. Yet, it is with Timberland that one of Japan’s most recognisable bag brands has chosen to co-output a capsule collection.

However I see it, the pairing is still a little mismatched. Sure, Timberland has attained cool status among those who let their footwear do the talking, and its 6-inch boot is still considered an ‘icon’. But Porter could possibly be on a higher rung of the status ranking, considering that the parent organisation Yoshida & Co (also known in Japan as Yoshida Kaban) are the go-to manufacturer of bags for many of Japan’s high-end labels, from Sacai to White Mountaineering. Outside of Japan, the eagerness by designer brands to collaborate with Porter—from Marni to Christopher Ræburn—has made the bag maker well loved to the level of cultish.

Admittedly, I am a Japanophile and I do have a weakness for Porter bags. Going to the B Jirushi Yoshida store in Tokyo’s Daikanyama—concept space conceived with the retailer Beams—is like a child stepping into Kiddy Land in Harajuku: it’s a bewildering experience and you cannot go against the urge to spend. Everything in there is, to me, worlds apart from and more covetable than anything seen in an LV store. It’s really how Yoshida & Co is able to make Porter totally practical and yet aesthetically appealing. Long-time collaborator Beams has a simple but on-point description: “basic and exciting”.

The Timberland X Porter collaboration yields two styles of bags in two colours (black and olive): The Boston (above) and a knapsack called a ‘daypack’. I was not too impressed with the latter, so I gave the carryall closer inspection instead. Face to face, you can’t mistake the silhouette: it’s a Porter standard seen in such styles as the Black Beauty ‘duffle’ and even the slimmer take in the form of the Master Navy ‘brief case’. To me, the all-time favourite in the Porter cache wasn’t given an imaginative makeover, not even the colour-blocking, already a Porter signature. Yes, I see it: the natural shade on the side and handle is possibly a nod to the Timberland’s “original yellow”, but elsewhere in and outside of the bag, the Porter signatures are too strong to let anything “Timb” stand out: the bright orange lining details and the unmistakable black and white Porter label discreetly stitched to the left-hand (or right, if you’re looking straight at it) bottom corner, but still conspicuous.

I guess, for many, that little rectangle is reason enough to cop one (or both) of the two bags. As for me, I can wait till Tokyo’s energetic streets are again beneath my feet.

The Timberland X Porter capsule collection of bags (SGD529 for the backpack and SGD599 for the Boston)  and 6-inch boots (SGD399) are available at Robinsons The Hereen. Photos: Timberland/Porter

(2017) Winter Style 3: A Soft And Light Mid-Cut

 

Nike Komyuter

When heading abroad to where temperature dips, travellers are inclined to go for sneakers that can cover the ankles. But rather than hitting icy tracks in something chunky and heavy, why not try kicks that are quite the opposite?

This pair of Nike Komyuter has the profile of a sturdy winter shoe, but comes with less than half the weight of the typical. It helps that Nike has chosen a relatively thick nylon upper and, in place of laces, a canvas strap that are held in place with buckles. These are no ordinary buckles as they clasp securely with the aid of unseen magnets. Unbuckling is, therefore, as easy as buckling up.

The advantage of the nylon upper is not only its light weight, but also its water repellent quality. Seasoned winter holiday makers will know that in the cold, precipitation is to be expected—weather snow or rain. While the Komyuter does not completely seal the wearer’s feet from moisture since it does not hug the ankles, it does repel enough so that stepping on puddles of rainwater or piles of wet snow won’t mean instant soggy socks.

Nike Komyuter close-upAlso known by the abbreviation KMTR, this mid-cut was originally conceived as part of the Swoosh’s not often seen here ACG (All Conditions Gear) line. The sock-like construction and suppleness of the upper had early adopters compare it to the Nike Moc, which, to us, is a lot less handsome than the KMTR. In fact, we kept thinking that the Komyuter is very much a silhouette that Yohji Yamamoto would conceive for his main line.

As soon as the foot goes into the Komyuter, the roominess is at once discernible. The advantage of this that can be added to the list: you can wear thick stocks and your feet won’t feel suffocated in there. But slender footwear lovers beware, these sneakers may look puffier than what you’re used to. While there isn’t the usual fancy cushioning system of Nike kicks such as those of the VaporMax, the Komyuter comes with a foam midsole that provides more than adequate underfoot comfort for those long treks in the countryside.

One more plus: the Komyuter is welcome in the suitcase: collapsible—you can pack it as flat as a pair of ballet pumps, well, nearly. And they are one up against boots, which are, sadly, not airport-friendly footwear. The Komyuter, unlike, say, a Timberland 6”, has such a nondescript profile that chances are, they won’t attract attention for the security staff to ask you to take them off so that the scanner could happily scrutinise them.

Nike Komyuter SE Black/Anthracite, SGD229, is available at Limited Edt, Queensway Shopping Centre. Product photos: Nike. Collage: Just So