Digital Fashion Week hopes to make the world more aware of Singapore designers

                           Some of the designers and labels showing for Digital Fashion Week, which aims to make more aware of Singapore names including CYC and MAX.TAN.

30 October, 2015


SINGAPORE – Digital Fashion Week has returned for a fourth year with the organisers hoping to see South-east Asian fashion reaching new audiences around the world. The four-day event, held annually in Singapore and Bangkok since 2012, promotes the work of emerging designers. The theme for 2015 is “Asia-Euro Exchange”.


What sets Digital Fashion Week apart from other fashion events on the calendar is its emphasis on online and social media. Its events are streamed live, which means anyone anywhere can have front-row access to Singapore fashion.


This year’s catwalk will open with a special SG50-themed fashion show featuring 12 local designers, including Josiah Chua, Eliza Yeo, Amos Ananda and Afton Chen, working alongside invited designers from MDIS, NAFA and Raffles Design Institute.


Other shows include the 2016 collections of local labels MASH-UP, MAX.TAN, Ying The Label and CYC The Custom Shop. As a teaser, MASH-UP’s Nathaniel Ng said: “I think last year we went a bit serious, so this year we are bringing back the fun and the colour” with a collection based on ’90s nostalgia. “(It’s) the things we grew up with. We are finally bringing the mean girls and the geeks and the awkward girls together, and they’re all friends.”


If you’re wondering what fashions local tailoring institution CYC, which is participating in DFW for the second year running, has to offer, Fong Loo Fern, its managing director, said: “You would think, ‘What’s there to show for tailoring?’, right? But for this particular show, we have our young designer, together with David Wang, who’s one of our pioneer Singapore designers – he’s our creative consultant – putting together outfits that are quite different from what you would expect from classic tailoring.”


Another new development is that this year, DFW have brought in a fresh group of what they call #DFWInsiders – social media influencers from several countries including Taiwan, Australia, India and the United States. It’s a key part of their strategy to reach viewers around the world.


“We are expecting a new wave of crowd and that is the reason why we are inviting a new wave of DFW Insiders – because they bring different countries to watch us,” said Charina Widjaja, managing director, DFW Creative Pte Ltd.


A conventional event, she said, would require spending a lot of money “just to build an offline activity that can only reach 6,000 to 10,000 people, which, to us, is not enough. I mean, why do we want to keep it so exclusive? This is the only way for us to break through (and reach) more than 10,000 people.”


She added: “Viewers are increasing – slowly, I would say – but at the same time, awareness is increasing really, really quickly, so we hope that can be translated to more viewers every day.”


As for whether local designers have seen tangible benefits from participating in the event, she said: “The best feedback I’ve received so far was from Max Tan last year. Buyers based overseas watched it live; right after the show, they increased their orders. Everything now is instant ... that’s where it gets very exciting. And you can do it pretty easily nowadays. It’s about how to build awareness. I think we were lucky enough to start first, in 2012. And now, in our fourth year, DFW is more recognised, and people do understand our mission.”


This year’s panelists (NB: I’m still trying to figure out what exactly they’ll be doing) were in agreement that going digital is not only expanding fashion’s reach, but also revolutionising the industry.


“The digital world has completely changed the rules of fashion,” said French producer and film director Fabien Constant. “We used to have to wait for a tiny number of people to have access to this famous ‘first row’. Now, it’s much more direct and much faster, meaning that the when the first model comes out on the catwalk, the (image) is everywhere in the world, instantly. This has completely changed our ways of producing fashion and communicating about fashion.”


Lucy Siegle, sustainability columnist at The Observer and author of the book To Die For: is fashion wearing out the world? sees these developments as a way of “democratising” fashion. “We used to have fashion journalists who were the arbiter of everything. They lacked immediacy; they lacked rapport,” she said.


With the prevalence of social media, said British television presenter, DJ and model Billie JD Porter, it’s “incredible that people are getting inspiration from real people, as opposed to opening a magazine and deciding to copy what someone’s wearing in Vogue.”