Audi Fashion Festival (AFF) director Tjin Lee is not sweating it that government funding for the event ended last year.
On the contrary, she says it means she can now run the annual fashion extravaganza, which she started in 2009 (along with some partners), on her own terms.
Ms Lee, 41, says the Singapore Tourism Board signed on to fund the $2 million-a-year event on a declining basis in 2010, but the endorsement came with conditions.
"One of our key performance indicators (KPI) set by the STB was to keep growing the festival. Now that we're independent, we're not bound by the same objectives," says Ms Lee, who is the managing director of Mercury Marketing & Communications. She declined to elaborate on how much she was expected to grow the event, but she says it included increasing the number of tourists to the festival every year.
Even though STB funding amounted to just 5 per cent of the festival budget last year, those KPIs still had to be met. STB declined to reveal how much of the festival's annual budget it sponsored over the years.
Without the mandate to increase the number of visitors, Ms Lee is turning this year's instalment, happening from May 14 to 18 at Ngee Ann City, into a more intimate affair.
"The intent is not to make it smaller, but more experiential. I can't do that if my event has 800 to 1,000 people at every show," says Ms Lee. There are 17 shows this year, compared with 13 shows last year.
This year, there will be 650 seats for each show, instead of 800. In 2009, the festival started with 600 seats and had 11 shows. With fewer seats and a 30m runway, up from 24m, there will be better views for showgoers.
Most shows will be open to the public. The show venue is at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza, its home before it moved to the Marina Promenade last year.
AFF is part of the Asia Fashion Exchange (AFX), which aims to promote Singapore as an Asian fashion hub.
The other key AFX events are Blueprint, a trade show; Asia Fashion Summit, a conference for industry professionals; and Audi Star Creation, a design competition for aspiring designers in the region.
Mr David Wang, vice-president of the Textile and Fashion Federation, says that, as a whole, the AFX has helped to raise Singapore's fashion profile on a global level. AFF, in particular, helps to raise the profiles of local designers by showcasing them alongside international designers.
Over the years, local labels such as Ashley Isham and Raoul have showcased their collections alongside prominent names such as Missoni, Roberto Cavalli, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Roland Mouret.
"But aside from the glitz of AFF, Blueprint is important as well to give local designers business and networking opportunities," says Mr Wang.