Looking sharp, gentlemen

Looking sharp, gentlemen
All dressed up are The Pride members (from left) Daren Tan, Nick Chong, Kevin Ou, Benjamin Kheng, Eugene Lim and Nicholas Cho.

Operating in a society that prides itself on not showing off, their mission to promote the style and concept of a "modern gentleman" has earned them some unflattering epithets.

But, staying true to their ethos, they are undeterred.

After all, they are The Pride: strategic planning director Nicholas Cho, 36; fashion merchandiser Nick Chong, 30; singer-actor Benjamin Kheng, 24; marketing and public relations head Eugene Lim, 34; entrepreneur Kevin Ou, 36; and actor Daren Tan, 32.

The six-man group banded in November last year to become "influencers" - a term used to describe trendsetters who have reach on social media - promoting the idea of a modern gentleman, a movement that they named The Gentleman's Pride.

Style is a significant part of The Pride and their Instagram account (thepridesg), which has more than 1,100 followers, reflects this.

On it, they share photos of themselves decked out in suits and stylish outfits.

Members, who met over the years at lifestyle events, hope the account will be used as a style resource that will inspire men to take more, yes, pride in the way they look.

Indeed, anyone can be part of The Gentleman's Pride movement by using the hashtag #thegentlemanspride on Instagram photos that exemplify a gentleman's lifestyle.

MORE THAN JUST LOOKING GOOD

Mr Lim, who spearheads both the group and the movement, says: "There are so many female influencers, but very few male ones.

"One of the reasons is that both women and men like to look at women, but people are less interested in male influencers, so we thought the six of us coming together would make more of an impact."

Then he adds: "Unless you're Ben Kheng - in that case, everyone will want to look at you," drawing laughter from the rest of the group. Mr Kheng is a member of local band, The Sam Willows.

Although they espouse the suit as the uniform for the modern-day gentleman, they also have plenty of ideas for casual outings and playing sports.

Given the humid climate, men who want ideas on how to incorporate elements of a suit for a smart casual look will also find plenty of inspiration from The Pride's Instagram account.

For instance, Mr Kheng arrived at the interview in a tight polo T-shirt with a vest over it, black skinny jeans and a pocket watch - a favourite accessory of 19th-century gentlemen.

Mr Chong, who works for multi-label store Rockstar, also adopted a relaxed look for the Urban video shoot, pairing a denim blazer and vest with linen trousers. The look was finished with a dressy pair of monk-strap shoes.

Mr Ou, who co-owns The Lumenere Group, an entertainment consultancy, says: "Rules are meant to be broken. It's about maintaining the concept of a gentleman and dressing for the occasion."

The movement may have a strong style focus, but the members of The Pride acknowledge that being a gentleman is more than just looking good.

They plan to start a platform for articles and videos addressing etiquette.

Mr Ou says: "We're not experts on being a gentleman. In fact, dressing and behaving like one is also a learning process for all of us, but it's something that we embrace and we hope that people will come on this journey with us."

PREENING POSEURS - NOT

The men's romantic partners also seem to have no qualms about the vanity project, with some showing up for the video shoot last week.

Ms Kate Cheong, who is married to Mr Cho, says she no longer needs to buy him formal clothes and accessories.

"He used to do only streetwear and I'm glad that he's exploring a different style, so he can put the ties I got him to use," says Ms Cheong, 39, who owns lifestyle company CoolCore Singapore.

The other members are single.

However, not everyone is as kind to men who care about their appearances.

The group concedes they have been called names, like "douche-y", but it is not getting them hot under the collar.

"We're not doing this to show off or prove something," says Mr Ou.

To those who think The Pride is just a bunch of preening poseurs, Mr Chong says: "We would like to extend an invitation to those people to hang out with us and they can decide after that."

staceyc@sph.com.sg

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