Before They Could Cop These Off-Whites, They’ve Soiled Them

Grown men fighting over sneakers simply makes the exposure all the more over-hyped… and a little dirty

Pharrell Williams X Adidas Hu Holi Blank Canvas sneakers

By Shu Xie

I really don’t get it: Fighting over shoes! I can understand men squabbling among themselves over a woman (even if that’s juvenile), but over sneakers that will past their prime by tomorrow, that is inexplicable. And in full public view, that is tacky, tasteless, and low.

As reported all over online media—local and international, a fight broke out three days ago in the queue at Pacific Plaza for the latest release of Pharrell Williams’s collaboration with Adidas: the Hu Holi Blank Canvas collection. Not only had a video of the scuffle subsequently gone viral, it allowed Malaysia’s New Straits Times to gleefully headline their report, “Near-riot breaks out in orderly Singapore over limited-edition Adidas.”

Ok, it was nowhere near a riot, but anything disorderly in “orderly Singapore” is usually seen as riotous. There was finger-pointing fuming and security staff warding off possible threats with their forearm, but was it close to an insurrection? Unfortunately, Adidas didn’t get the extra marketing advantage.

What’s puzzling is that, according to someone I know who was there, the people in the queue were not “fashion types”. Fashion folks don’t fight, do they? Rather, the guys (mostly) in line looked like those who might hawk knock-offs in a wet market—“between the taugeh/taukwa seller and the butcher”, so helpfully described. Which sounds to me like these were guys who would put their purchases on Ebay or Carousell to gainfully tempt the moneyed and the desperate.

Unfortunate also for the Hu Holi Blank Canvas collection—the blank canvas is now stained with the un-“holi” taint of violence. So are these shoes more desirable now that guys are fighting to cop them? Even if they are, you have no chance of getting your gentle hands on them. They’re sold out. Every one of them.

Photo: Adidas

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Versace: Still Brash, But With Some Dash

Versace AW 2018 P1

According to Versace’s own description on their website after the autumn/winter 2018 show was posted online, the latest collection is “Strong. Loud. Confident. There are no compromises. A clash of cultures between past and present, old and new, sneakers and stilettos”.

Yes, it is classic Versace, but there is something else, something that expresses Donatella Versace’s in-your-face, I-can-wear-anything-I-want feminism. And, the man-baiting sexuality. It is Ms Donatella coming into her own, a confident assertion that this is how she now sees the brand her brother built. She is making Versace in her own image.

It is as if, after marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Gianni Versace with an homage show, she is finally able to purge all the obligations held to keep his memory alive and the expectations of her as a designer she could never be. Ms Donatella was finally able to breathe easy. And she did. And she came up tops.

Versace AW 2018 G1

Earlier suggestion and viral rumours that she contemplated stepping down was conventional smoke. Now that we know for sure Riccardo Tisci has gone to Burberry after persistent news that he would zip to the house of the Medusa head, we can lay all talk of Ms Donatella not designing the label she inherited a rest. This autumn/winter season is her strongest and compelling collection yet—a sure-footed discourse on what the Versace woman is today and a deft hand at melting the house codes into visuals that connect to the present time.

There is the obligatory lian-ness, of course, such as the over-patched Western shirt seen on Kaia Gerber, who is able to pull off such a top because she is very young. Sometimes you sensed that Versus has crossed over to the main line and some of the effects do throw back to Ms Donatella’s early years with the diffusion line, which she had led. The tartans were especially fetching—they did, however, remind us of how Christopher Kane, one time Versus designer, would have handled the highland checks. Gingham corset over tartan blazer!

There seems to be a need to pull the collection into street territory too. One outfit stood out only because it is un-Versace: a body-obscuring, studded (like a Chesterfield) puffer coat styled with an oversized padded scarf and worn with a short skirt that matches the former’s lining is a walk on Demna Gvasalia territory. It is, to us, a stray that could be seen as testing the waters. Versace could do with larger support from youths even if they have admirably seduced the young of the Chinese market.

Versace AW 2018 G2

Other times, you sensed a Versace for the careerist. Gigi Hadid looked Wall Street-bound! Ms Donatella has always called herself a working woman. And has often claimed to cater to those who have a career path to track and who desire powerful sartorial images of the height of corporate conquest. Her work clothes are not meek and secretarial; they’re unyielding and dominating. Her coats and jackets project power and the shirts and blouses that go with them just as fierce.

Fierceness has always been a Donatella trait—now, the intensity tempered with girlishness, often in the form of short, pleated, as well as flouncy skirts that straddle the narrow divide between school uniform and otaku fantasy. The suggestion of adolescent at play, too, can be seen in the pairing of T-shirts (some looking as if there were made from two halves) to huge, poufed skirts—a styling trick possibly gleaned from the Sharon Stone playbook.

Don’t get us wrong: Donatella Versace has not abandoned the very essence that has endeared her brand to stars such as Jennifer Lopez: sex. There is, in fact, a healthy dose of it: sex as empowerment, ironically pronounced in a time of anti-sexually-predatory behavior. But what would Versace be without accenting the hips and flashing a limb? Simply put, no zest.

Photos: Versace

Gucci Not Good

Gucci AW 2018 P1

Gucci, there’s really nothing more to say about your clothes since there’s little that can be said of your offerings that we have not already expressed before. So, this season, we looked at how your pieces were styled for the catwalk: what (more) theatrics would you succumb to? And, boy, did you not disappoint. High drama made all the more apparent and discernible by your wonderfully bright staging (as opposed to last season’s eye-squinting/straining gloom), so bright that it was actually clinical—operating-theatre clear, as your set was designed to be every (cosmetic?) surgeon’s (or pathologist’s?) pride and delight.

And because all was distinct to see, we could not miss, not for a moment, the daastars—turbans that are unmistakably a physical part of the Sikh identity—placed on the heads of non-Sikhs. If they weren’t attention-grabbing enough, there, too, were hijabs, niqabs, and tudongs, additional headdresses that are traditionally symbols of faith, not fashion (as well as, oddly, what appeared to be a third eye, not perhaps dharmic, but definitely an eye between eyes). If they did not disturb sufficiently, there was the thoughtless (some say “wicked”) and inexplicable pairing of tudong and daatar!

Gucci AW 2018 G1

Frankly, we do not know for sure what Alessandro Michele was thinking at that moment, or moments before that. Or, was he even thinking? We really want to frame this as inspiration, but appropriation comes to mind faster than we could say ‘head wrap’. Why is a daastar (and kindred head wear) important in the communication of a fashion statement? Is it even appropriate given the religious sensitivities/phobia of the present time? Could this be Mr Michele’s version of diversity? Or, are we too serious about something as flippant as accessorising models for a fashion show? Should we just take it as ‘fun’? Can having fun bear no consequences?

Some media reports in the past have noted Mr Michele’s “encyclopedic aesthetic”, but surely even Wikipedea would have informed him of the daastar’s identity to Sikhism, or, that it is men, not women, who wear them. And for sticking to what distinguishes a Sikh male, many have been victims of prejudice and attack, including mistaking daastar wearers for Muslims. It’s fine to live in your own head; it’s not when you trivialise what others put on theirs as identity of self. This, Gucci, isn’t like putting a crown on a head to satisfy some fantasy about royalty or beauty pageants.

Gucci AW 2018 G2

When once, designers depended on make-up and hair styles to augment their seasonal looks, we now have designers making their own wearables (which could then be credited to them, rather than to external collaborators), to replace the artistry of directional make-up (remember the single-line bright eye colours of Raf Simons’s Dior) and hair (remember Julien d’Ys coiffure for Comme des Garçons?). Even wigs and face jewellery are no longer enough.

Are head and face wear, as indicated and seen in nearly every look presented on the Gucci catwalk, really important fashion categories? (Not to mention severed heads!) Or, are the (sometimes outrageous) coverings merely a distracting “newness” to obscure what are essentially again-clownish clothes? The circus association here is deliberate: How else do you explain Mr Michele’s pulling together of the allusions to disparate times, cultures, and religions to yield goofy and OTT looks? Alessandro Michele is the ringmaster of ringmasters. Messrs Dolce and Gabbana, step aside.

Photos: Gucci

She Just Wants To Show Some Skin, So Let Her

Like the rest of us, feminism is confronting confounding times. Jennifer Lawrence, too. She wears a dress with conscious volition and she’s compared not with other women, but male co-stars! Suddenly, out in the cold, it’s all unfair. The men get to cover up, and the lass has to be all sexy, in a dress with a slit that went up to there. The dictates of photo ops?!

Would a woman who is vocal about unequal pay in Hollywood succumb to sexist pressure and don a dress to steal the thunder from the guys? Or have we moved inexorably from fat-shaming to slut-shaming to dress-shaming? When Beyonce wore next-to-nothing, the “naked dress” is hot. When Jennifer Lawrence takes to the sartorial path of Elizabeth Hurley, she is “poor Jennifer Lawrence wearing a small amout of fabric some might call a dress”.

Sure, it’s still winter in London, but some women can take the cold better than others. What’s five minutes (according to Ms Lawrence) of the cold (if it’s at all cold to her) to show of what she thinks is a “fabulous” Versace dress? Conversely, have you not seen girls in neoprene hoodies walking down Orchard Road in thirty-two-degree heat for the duration it takes to get from ION Orchard to Plaza Singapura? Like Ms Lawrence, they do it for fashion.

What’s more intriguing to us is her choice of dress. How did she go from Dior to Versace? Indeed, Ms Lawrence says she loves fashion. But a fashion lover can’t love all fashion, can she? Or are we just a little potted in our thinking, a little too unwilling to see a style star traipse the path of flashiness too easily available to those who need such meretricious looks to win attention, such as the safety-pinned then starlet Liz Hurley?

Ms Lawrence, thanks to her partnership with Dior, was a couture kind of fashion consumer, we thought, tripping/falling spectacularly during the 2013 Oscars presentation in a gown Raf Simons designed. Ms Lawrence, as we see her, is not quite inclined to bare as much as Rihanna; she has too much self-confidence and self-awarenesssmarts and goofiness, tooto need Donatella Versace’s brand of high-octane, sexy-wins glamour.

The red carpet moment, whether on an actual red carpet or not, has always been a chance to show some physical assets. Isn’t it the same for brides? Have you seen a bride in a coat? Which explains why few care for a winter wedding. As Ms Lawrence said in her passionate defence on Twitter, “And if I want to be cold, THAT’S MY CHOICE.”

Choice, that’s a powerful thing to have.

Photo: Getty Images

Is Bailey Blasé About Burberry?

Christopher Bailey showed his final collection in London two days ago. It was not the swan song of swan songs

Burberry Feb 2018 P1

This could be the most anticipated show of the London season, but we could not have known. Christopher Bailey bowed out of Burberry with his final presentation, but it wasn’t a give-it-to-them collection. It wasn’t even a best-of throwback. No one stood up when the models strutted their stuff for the finale. Only when Mr Bailey emerged for his customary runway bow did the audience rose to its feet. The man drew a standing ovation, not the clothes.

As farewell shows go, this one was rather low on moments. Sure, people were thrilled to see the rarely-on-catwalk-these-days Cara Delevingne close the show, being goofy, but what was that she was wearing? Costume from a school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat? And what was Ms Delevingne wearing beneath that? Something to go to bed with, or to pick up the morning paper? Or was this deliberately anti-knock-out last dress, just as the show was anti-exit-with-a-bang display so that it will resound in the pages of final-show history?

Burberry Feb 2018 G1

This was meant to be a salute to LGBT+ youths everywhere, but it could easily be thumbs up to the “chavs” and “chavettes” (loosely, the British bengs and lians) that had once made Burberry many rungs below classy and deserving a makeover, which had led to Christopher Bailey taking the creative reigns of the 162-year-old British house. The checks that the chavs made crass were back in full glory (including those infamous caps). But it was the decidedly low-brow styling—boys and girls going about their mundane day in, possibly, east London, or even Ang Mo Kio—that made the clothes a tad too difficult to digest. Add those tired-by-now supermarket bags and you have a picture of a hipster heartland that is too much a parody to be cool and desirable.

Mr Bailey has long abandoned cool. The London cool associated with his Burberry (trench coats ruched at the shoulder), the English Rose and “Garden Girls” (full-lace tea dresses and floral prairie dresses), the ’60s edge (the autumn/winter 2011 collection inspired by Jean Shrimpton), Mr Bailey has ditched them. Like everyone else, he’s doing street, good and bad street. How else do you explain the (still) oversized Harrington jackets or Yonex-would-be-proud windbreakers? He’s also looking back at the ’90s. How else do you elucidate those multi-coloured embroidered logotype, so done-to-death by Kenzo’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, and so reminiscent of the knock-offs that once festooned the night market stalls of Bangkok’s Silom Road?

Burberry Feb 2018 G2

It did seem to us that Mr Bailey was doing a Marc Jacobs: He mined chav culture the way Mr Jacobs mines black culture or disco past. The hotchpotch was certainly there, so was the ’80s/’90s references and the sub-culture tags. Even the vast, somewhat bare show venue at the Dimco Building of West London was reminiscent of Mr Jacobs favourite Park Avenue Armoury. Even the music: No more live performances; just good old gay disco, courtesy of The Communards and Jimmy Somerville and a generous dash of the ever listenable Marc Almond.

Yes, they’re for the kids who have never seen and worn and dance in them before, we hear you say, but where does that leave the rest of us—we who do not want to muse over the past; who desire even the moderately new, the irreverent, the witty, the complex; we who think that, while fashion is cyclic, the cycle should take much longer to come full circle; we who think there’s too much fashion and much of it is like the other, so why bother? We understand that Burberry has to cater to those not yet bored, not yet satiated, not yet inducted, but isn’t there enough grassroots gaiety at Topshop?

Burberry Feb 2018 G4

Oh, the LGBT+ bit. “My final collection here at Burberry is dedicated to—and in support of—some of the best and brightest organisations supporting LGBTQ+ youths around the world,” Mr Bailey had said to the media. “There has never been a more important time to say that in our diversity lies our strength, and our creativity.” The recurrent motif in about half-a-dozen outfits was the rainbow flag/stripe. And if they seemed a little reductive in view how far gay people and their kindred kinds have come, it’s because there was something very gift shop by way of the Castro in San Francisco or the Chelsea in New York, circa 1988, in those bubble vest, coat, jacket, dress, bags, and trainers. You sort of half –aspect ‘Does Your Mother Know’ jokes emblazoned on T-shirts. We’re not sure if any of them is a good look, for gay or straight.

It could be that Mr Bailey was already in bow-out mood when assembling the collection, which, to us, was just a pastiche of stuff—a rambling thought, flashes of reflections, not the attentively conceived collection dedicated to Henry Moore (same time last year) that thrilled us so. Perhaps, he has indeed lost steam, as some observers had previously posited. This February collection is likely to remain linked to this month, to the end of a designer’s 17-year reign, and would date the moment we forget his departure. Maybe this wasn’t just Christopher Bailey’s last Burberry show; maybe this was his last laugh.

Photo: (top) Burberry/Youtube and (catwalk) Indigital.tv

What Does A Pair Of Nude Sisters Say About Fashion?

Nothing. Zilch. Naught

The naked Hadids for Vogue.jpg

By Wang Mao Shan

The Hadid sisters: Is there nothing they won’t do for attention? Well, I suppose it’s not entirely their own doing if British Vogue wants them to go naked to help improve the magazine’s sales, or its declared inclusiveness (naked girls deserve editorial space in decent publications too). Well, to be clear, I don’t know for sure. I am uncertain if this is editor Edward Enninful’s specific request to communicate a particular hitherto unexpressed heterosexual leaning. I am not sure if this is the result of lensman Steven Meisel’s urging—some photographers are known to be good at making models take off their clothes. For all I know, maybe the stylist did not bring enough threads, and a page had to be filled.

Still, Vogue is a fashion magazine. It is not Treats!. Those of us who still flip a hard copy (how archaic that sounds!) magazine do so for the fashion (that, too, is outmoded, no?). Sure, in the old days, there were topless photos, but at least there were skirts or pants to look at—oh, how wide the waistband. Okay, even panties—look, how skimpy there are! The Hadids didn’t even have shoes on. Or, we could have said something like how fierce the heels are. Nary a pink pussy hat too, or is that too one-year-ago? Is that why Kim K posted a bare-breasted photo of herself on Instagram about the same time the pre-newsstand publicity for the Vogue shot went viral: not to be outdone?

In an age of #dresslikeawoman (primarily a reaction to Donald Trump’s alleged dress code for his female staff), we have a duo ready to spawn #undresslikeawoman. They are, however, not setting the precedent; they are mere followers in an increasingly pornified media-scape. You could boil it down to female empowerment (as per Hillary Clinton’s encouragement, “To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want.” Anything!), but would assertion of self be less powerful if there were any shred of clothing? Or is bare-all see-all, know-all, understand-all?

It’s not easy to make clear why British Vogue saw the necessity of publishing these two sisters looking pre- (or post-) coital, nor do we want to. Surely this isn’t a sisterly, after-a-shared-shower moment! It’s more problematic because Bella and Gigi, to me, don’t really look related, which gives this same-sex pairing a not-quite-mundane, “creepy”—as the Guardian so succinctly put it—(front) side. Or am I—a damsel from more covered times, who likes seeing clothes on models, not without—just not “woke” enough?

The thing is, people do things that defy comprehension, more so decency. Fashion be damned. In the end, who cares about clothes? Vogue knows you don’t. If you want fashion, go to instyle.com. How about “30 Most Nude Dresses of All Time”?

Photo: Vogue/Steven Meisel/stevenmeiselphoto, Instagram

Le Sac Plastique Fantastique

After last year’s Fraktar bag hack, is the nondescript and omnipresent plastic supermarket bag the next big thing?

Actually plastic bagStylish, extra-large and extra-thick plastic bag offered by Actually @ Orchard Gateway

By Ray Zhang

Ten years ago, a dear friend of mine gave me a birthday gift that came bundled in a pink plastic bag, typically used by vegetable sellers—yes, the wet market staple. To be sure, he wasn’t a fashion forward type although he worked in fashion his whole life. And he definitely did not have a crystal ball to see a decade into the future, when anti-fashion fashion has taken root in fashion, and spawned fashionable bags with a provenance that can be traced to sellers of fresh comestible.

That the lowly plastic market (and supermarket) carrier can now have fashion cred may be attributed to our predilection for choosing low to yield high. Does the T-shirt not come to mind? Let’s, for convenience, put the blame on Demna Gvasalia, that provocateur-in-chief at the house of Balenciaga. He had picked common bags—for example, those usually associated with mainland Chinese moving vast quantities of city goods back to their rural homes during festive seasons such as the Lunar New Year—to make them into high-end, covetable carriers. It culminated in the re-make of Ikea’s Fraktar tote—in leather, of course—that could be seen as Mr Gvasalia doing a DHL for the equally humble shopping bag.

Muji shopping bagMuji’s nylon shopping bag can be folded flat and fitted into an attached slip case that comes with a loop at the top in case you’d want to add a carabiner to it

But that wasn’t the last of the common bags that Mr Gvasalia has given a luxury spin. Last month, his Balenciaga launched the “supermarket shopper”, an undisguised shopping bag not normally associated with fashion once steeped in the tradition of couture. The thing is, it isn’t yet clear if a leather “supermarket shopper” will have the same impact on popular fashion the way Celine’s leather shopper did back in 2009 (which predates Balenciaga’s own leather ‘Shopping Tote’ by eight years).

Brands are following Balenciaga’s lead. But rather than leather, plastic is presently king. Phoebe Philo, as a parting shot perhaps, created plastic supermarket bags to be sold as merch rather than for you take your in-store purchases home in one. Just a month ago, Raf Simons, too, got into the act, and released a see-through version (called, what else, RS Shopping Bag!) with Voo Store, one of Berlin’s most progressive multi-label fashion retailers. Mr Simons’s version is clearly pitched as a collectible, not to be used when you next go shopping and you want to play eco-warrior. The plastic supermarket bag has achieved It bag status, which, admittedly, now sounds rather quaint.

MMM cotton shopping bagThe nondescript store bags given to shoppers at what was once Maison Martin Margiela. Their version is not tubular, with stitched hems on both sides of the folded gusset

The nondescript store bags given to shoppers at what was once Maison Martin Margiela. Their version is not tubular, with stitched hems on both sides of the folded gusset
Like many fixations of fashion designers, this one isn’t terribly new. For the longest time, Maison Martin Margiela, pre-John Galliano, packed your purchases into supermarket-style shopping bags in white cotton that was akin to calico. (A leather, for-sale version was also released under the sub-line MM6.) I can’t tell you convincingly enough (now that such bags are a fashion item) how surprised I was many, many moons ago when I was presented with that bag after buying an MMM leather jacket at its Rue de Richelieu store in Paris. Surely they could do better, I had thought. But there was something decidedly appealing about the idea of a luxury item housed in a non-luxury bag that I found myself traipsing the City of Lights for the rest of the day in this plain and un-labelled sac with some satisfaction that I can’t quite describe now. A wink-wink moment perhaps. Was this how Mr Gvasalia had felt when he thought of the shopping bag for Balenciaga? Or was he being nostalgic of his days at the influential house?

The supermarket shopping bag—not as article of fashion—has a rather long history. According to popular telling, the grocery bag that we know so well was invented by Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin in the early 1960s. What Mr Thulin had in mind was a one-piece bad that can be formed by folding, welding and die-cutting a flat tubular plastic. This he did for Celloplast, a Swedish company known for producing cellulose film and for processing plastics. Celloplast was quick to patent the making of the plastic shopping bag and the rest, I think you’d agree, really requires no detailed recounting.

Bag in TokyoShoppers in Tokyo are often seen with shopping bags attached to a carabiner that’s hooked to a belt loop. Here, a velvety plastic bag from retailer Bayflow that’s printed with a message: “Respect nature, respect fashion. Stay healthy and simple, comfortable and beautiful.”

Oversized shopping bags—carried over the shoulder like a tote—are often spotted in Bangkok where shoppers carry them to house large purchases

While the bag of our current interest has been mostly associated with the wet market and the supermarket, versions in more durable nylon and with attractive prints started to appear when retailers discourage shoppers from using the plastic versions as they are not biodegradable and will add to the woes of inadequate landfills. Some cities such as Hong Kong and Taipei started charging customers when a plastic bag is required for their purchase. With demand for bring-your-own-bags rising, many bag manufacturers started producing reusable, washable, and long-lasting nylon shopping bags that can be folded neatly into a little package no bigger than a wallet.

In Japan, Tokyo especially, not only are these attractive bags available in supermarkets, they are sold in stores such as Muji and Uniqlo and trendy shops such as Beams and Urban Research. The basic shape is the same no matter where you find them, but there’s where the similarity ends. Patterns are almost always the eye-catching part, but, for me, it is how the Japanese carry them that I find so fascinating. Many guys have them secured to their waist with a carabiner. Some would tie them to their bag straps in a way that can only be described as fetching. Once, in Tomorrowland, the multi-label store, I saw a woman with a black nylon shopping bag. Nothing terribly interesting in that except that she had one handle looped over the other, which was slipped on to her wrist. There was something terribly artful in the bag-and-wrist composition. It reminded me of the Japanese azuma bukuro, a traditional cloth bag that—at least in Japan—is anything but ordinary.

Aland bagsThe myriad colours and patterns cheerfully offered at Seoul retailer Åland, as seen in their Bangkok flagship store

Today, fancier shops call them “marché (which is really French for market) bags”. At Muji, their version is labelled as “tote bag”, which adds to the mild confusion. The thing is, these fancy takes on the supermarket bag are not likely going to be seen in the likes of Fairprice. But where would you carry them to, then? Except at Ikea, home of the Fraktar, few retailers in Singapore discourage you from expecting a store-issued shopping bag, for free. In fact, at many supermarkets, shoppers are known to ask for more than they require. When will this habit be shaken off? When will the use of our own unique shopping bags be a common sight?

Or perhaps the structured, hardware-festooned bag of unambiguous designer standing is over. Who even remembers the Baguette now? Isn’t 1997 a long time ago? This is the era of Vetements, the time of looking at seemingly commonplace, unremarkable things to make them objects of desire. This is, after all, the age of the sweatshirt made good.

Photos: Chin Boh Kay and Jagkrit Suwanmethanon

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. 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

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