Singapore Fashion Awards celebrate local talent

Almost a month after the last show of Singapore Fashion Week was staged there, the National Gallery Singapore was again abuzz with fashion movers and shakers last Friday.

It hosted the Singapore Fashion Awards, which is organised by the Textile and Fashion Federation of Singapore and held in conjunction with Tangs.

The awards honour and celebrate the achievements of designers, who have significantly shaped the local fashion industry, and the organisers hope that by doing so, it will help motivate emerging designers to do better.

The biennial awards were first held in 2001 and the last edition was in the mid-2000s.

Ms Lynette Lee, the federation's chief executive officer, who joined the body in 2013, is unable to provide details on why the awards did not continue after that year.

However, she says that with the efforts the federation has put in over the years to build the Singapore fashion industry - with the support of government agencies such as Spring, International Enterprise Singapore and DesignSingapore Council - this year is the right time to bring back the Singapore Fashion Awards.

The big winner of the night was womenswear brand Love, Bonito.

The 10-year-old brand picked up the Best Marketing award and Best Collaboration of the Year award, for last year's collaboration with Indonesian designer, Tex Saverio.

It was also named one of the Top 3 Most Popular Brands of the Year, together with womenswear labels, By Invite Only and Beyond The Vines.

Public votes accounted for half of the overall scoring for the Top 3 Most Popular Brands of the Year award. Other nominees included womenswear labels Collate the Label and Eight Slate.

Love, Bonito founders - Ms Viola Tan, 32, and Ms Rachel Lim, 29 - say that the awards recognise the hard work they had put into the brand.

Ms Tan says: "We spent a good part of this year intentionally slowing down and focusing on rebuilding our foundation. We will definitely use this opportunity to bring Love, Bonito to its greatest potential by penetrating the South-east Asian markets."

Other winners included womenswear brand In Good Company and accessories brand Carrie K, which clinched the Designer of the Year Award for the fashion and accessories categories respectively.

Each award came with $24,000 worth of prizes, including $10,000 in cash and a sponsored trade showroom in Shanghai next April.

Creative director and co-founder of In Good Company, Mr Sven Tan, 36, says: "Winning the award signals that we're doing something right. This bolsters our confidence to continue listening to our instincts and to deliver clothes of refined finishing and quality at sharp price points."

Womenswear brand Ginlee Studio and accessories brand One.61 were recognised as the Emerging Designer of the Year for the fashion and accessories categories respectively.

The judging panel included veteran designer Thomas Wee, fashion retailer Tina Tan-Leo and Singapore Fashion Week chairman Tjin Lee.

Wee received an honorary award for his contributions to Singapore's fashion industry over 38 years. He is known for his sharply tailored suits and pattern-making techniques.

The 67-year-old, who was exempted from the judging panel for this award, says that while it came as a surprise to him, the award was long-awaited.

"I've received a lot of tokens and other awards but, to me, this one anchors my other achievements."

He believes that the Singapore Fashion Awards will help motivate designers as it endorses their position in the Singapore fashion scene, especially for young designers.

He says: "This is an opportunity for people in the industry to get to know about them."

Other countries have similar awards to recognise talents in their fashion industry - the United States has its Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Awards, while the United Kingdom has its British Fashion Awards.

But Ms Lee is not keen to make comparisons.

She says: "I want to build Singapore into the fashion hub of Asia. Having the Singapore Fashion Awards is a step towards that."

This article was first published on Nov 24, 2016.
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