A Guide to Individual Style: Swee
Singaporeans aren’t generally known to be the best dressers and it’s fairly common knowledge that t-shirts, shorts, jeans and flip flops are the 4 main staples of a local wardrobe.
But as with the ever-changing nature of fashion, sartorial tides have turned on local shores. A growing number of Singaporeans have shed the local “uniform” in exchange for more chic and trendy styles—frequently inspired and sourced from the platitudes on social media. There are still though, the few who march to the beat of their own drum.
In this series, we shine a light on local fashionistas who aren’t afraid to go against trends, take a risk and embrace their individuality. From funky and pop glam looks to androgynous minimalist chic, here is an insight into their wardrobe and how their style represents who they are as a person.
Swee started Runway Bandits in 2008 on a LiveJournal platform when she was just 19. The company has grown from strength to strength through the years, and is now a full-fledged e-commerce business. Just last year, she made the bold move of opening a physical store (Goodluck Bunch) in the hopes of diversifying her reach. Though the brands each have distinctive styles of their own, the strength of their designs lies in their minimalist versatility, speaking of Swee’s meticulous and thoughtful nature. Including how she gives away ponchos on a rainy day at Goodluck Bunch, all these qualities make her every bit the fashion maverick.
“If I could sum up my style in 3 words, I would say clean, minimal and effortless. Due to the nature of my job, I’m always on the go, so being in comfortable clothing and footwear are my top priority. Meet-ups with my friends happen in-between my work and retail hours, which go on through the weekends. So, I’m nearly always decked out in my ‘work wear’, which consists of classic coordinates that were acquired with a singular intention to build a cohesive wardrobe.
Although I’m in the apparel industry and have to research, forecast and spot upcoming trends, I find myself sticking to what I’m most comfortable in and eschew the never-ending fads that come and go with each season. I prefer investing in quality staples that will last me for years to come.”
“Fashion was about fitting in, when I was a teenager. I slung my backpack really low, wore super-short denim skirts and neon-coloured ear sticks. It is embarrassing when I look back at old photos of me and my friends, but I have learnt to accept that it’s all part and parcel of finding my personal style.
During my school days, I had trouble finding affordable garments for everyday wear. While travelling, I found a good handful of stores overseas selling clothing at very reasonable prices, compared to the fast-fashion retailers which I used to frequent. That became my opportunity to start an e-commerce store (Runway Bandits) locally, which was catered toward students with limited budgets.“
“Runway Bandits is most known for reinventing everyday staples with modern, seasonless and effortless silhouettes, whereas Goodluck Bunch is a reactive response to what I feel is the dull and repetitive shopping scene in Singapore.
There have been a few turning points in my life, but the most significant was setting up Goodluck Bunch. The shop is still in its infancy, which means I don’t have a lot of free time anymore, but the past year has been exceptionally rewarding as I’ve got to meet so many new people and even developed new friendships. It allows customers to discover new and exciting brands, with an emphasis on originality. We introduce brands that do not have a physical presence in Singapore, aiding in their establishment here. These brands include London Brown. Novesta and recently, Champion. We now carry 50 brands, most of which are exclusive to us at our duplex conservation shophouse in Kampong Glam.”
“I think local fashion enthusiasts especially youths are getting more exposed and aware of emerging trends and brands due to the rise of social media, and it’s exciting to see a warm reception to independent brands with our customers at Goodluck Bunch. In fact, our staff uniform: a shirt dress especially designed and produced from fine Oxford cloth in our brand colours: white, navy and red has surprisingly garnered many enquiries from customers. That’s given us the confidence to produce a similar design, which is now sold on Runway Bandits.
I’m personally a big fan of white sneakers as they are highly versatile and complementary to all my outfits. One style tip: rotate your footwear so that you avoid wearing out one quickly.
I also enjoy looking at products from Everlane—an online retailer that sells quality staples for less by breaking off from the usual B2B wholesale/concessionaire model. I really appreciate their commitment to quality and ethical manufacturing.”