A candid chat with Chow Jia Hui, Content Creator and New Balance Singapore's inspirational woman ambassador.
In 2022 New Balance Singapore celebrates independent women who are paving their own paths. They have partnered with 3 Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) who embrace the value of being fearlessly independent . In line with the global celebration of women in style and sport the 3 women featured in this collaboration are New Balance athlete, Vanessa Lee, Independent Yoga Studio Owner, Yang Jiamin and The Smart Local talent, Chow Jia Hui.
Jia Hui (affectionately referred to as Chow) took some time off her busy schedule to answer some questions from us via email.
Hey Chow! What do the words Fearless and Independent mean to you personally?
To be fearless would be to live without inhibition, and to be brave in taking risks. And to be independent would be to rely on my wit and strengths to achieve my goals, but this doesnât mean I do everything without help!
I think asking for help is important too and it does take a degree of courage to reach out to others.
For sure. How do these values differ as a woman? What would you wish to see more in a better, just and balanced world?
It is idealistic to envision a fully balanced world but if I had it my way I think it would be amazing if the human experience did not discriminate and everyone was granted the same respect. Iâd wish that stereotypes didnât speak in volumes so loud that it masks the ability of humans to genuinely get to know each other by themselves.
âAnd Iâd wish that judgment wasnât passed before one had the chance to share their world and perspectives and that there was room for acceptance of different worlds and perspectives. We all lead very different lives and it would be beautiful to hear all about them without judgment!
ââAs a content creator how do you balance putting out work that youâre passionate and excited for versus creating solely for clients that hire you?
I like to work with brands and clients that respect and understand a creatorsâ content before collaborating with them. Creators are different from online banner ads because they are engaged for their craft and voice and if a client demands for a tremendous tweak in that voice, it defeats the purpose of any collaboration. The content would not perform effectively and neither the client nor the creator benefits.
With this in mind, I make it a point to explain to clients how creative control has to be retained and how I, as a creator, can conceptualise work that can relay their campaign messaging while still being aligned with my persona.
How do you keep a sense of authenticity with the things youâre paid to endorse? What do you say to those who are cynical about KOL endorsed products (i.e.: sponsored ads).
I say âfair point, mateâ.
I used to have my own set of doubts and I do think we rightfully should view any highly polished ad with skepticism. But at the end of the day, it really depends on how a creator conducts themselves and their craft individually. I canât speak for the masses but Iâm certain about how I value and principles of staying transparent and honest, and am therefore confident of my work!
Fair point indeed mate. What are your favorite sneaker models from New Balance?
When I was a wee lil kiddy in school I used to stare at the Maroon 237âs on my schoolmateâs feet in envy.
âââââHow do you hope to inspire new fans and followers through this campaign?
Weâre all dealt with a different hand of cards, thatâs just how life is, but we all have a choice on how we want to play our hand. And I hope thatâs a takeaway anyone reading this can have! We can choose how we treat others and how honest we want to be with ourselves.
What are some fundamental style tips or go-to's for you when it comes to sneakers and streetwear?
Sneakers go with everything! For my petite frame, I try to make sure my proportions are kept in check by balancing a loose fitting item with a tighter fit one. E.g. Bicycle shorts with a loose T-shirt, or a tight crop top with baggy joggers.
Platform sneakers/hi-cuts are also a quick hack to look about 10cm taller than you actually are. Take it from all the âomg I didnât know you were so smallâ's that Iâve heard when I meet people irl.
What are your thoughts on Sole Superior and the community of sneaker and streetwear enthusiasts that we serve?
Sole Superior is actually so sick!? I've been watching your space since my early uni days back in 2017 and Iâve always been amazed at how this passion brings people together. Wish I could be as cool as you guys but also happy spectating, and not to mentioned, hella stoked to do this interview.
If success be rated by the ability to have your products resold on the internet (ah the joys of Carouhell) Pras the Bandit has bagloads of clout- judging by the random sightings of our event collab merchandise popping up and exchanging hands on that platform alone.
Enter "The Strange Confession"- the latest collection by PRAS- and prepare to immerse yourself in deviant desires and fancy fetishes pastiched in B-Grade, Sci-Fiction, Cult and Horror film glory.
The collection includes an eclectic mix of graphic tees, hand-woven rugs and tote bags and will be launched exclusively at Goodluck Bunch, Singapore on Saturday, 29 July 2017. The launch event will feature limited collaboration pieces with Goodluck Bunch available only in-store as well as an array of local, "hawker-styled" refreshments (aka my favorite mee rebus stall from AMK). Expect potentially controversial graphics, products of high quality, in limited quantities. Better to cop early than to have to scour for a piece on resell right?
Launch event details are here, enjoy images of the collection below.
PS: We've got another collection / collaboration lined up with the dude for Sole Superior 2017 come November. It's gonna be rad.
26th March. To many sneakerheads, this day bears heavy significance. After all, it is the day that one of the biggest icons in Nike's sneaker gauntlet was released.
And it's quite ironic that this year's tag line features the catchy and some may say, passive-aggressive phrase, KISS MY AIRS. Well frankly, this tagline pretty much summarised Air Max Day in our humble little island nation for the past few years.
In what promises to be a quirky Friday, Club Millian would play host to the first of many collaborative efforts between Empire Collective and AHEAD CO. An electronic music collective and homegrown clothing label, the celebration will be aptly named #UpAllNight with a host of DJs spinning till the wee hours of the morning (of course). The party is also to be a backdrop to a new line of apparel that is co-designed by the two.
Founded in 2015, Empire Collective has steadily been amassing some of the finest ‘undiscovered’ producers in the country. While not considered lao jiaos in the scene, the collective are no strangers to the big leagues with their regular curated line-ups at said club and Singjazz Club clearly no mean feat. Similarly founded on the same DIY and grit-teeth principle, AHEAD CO. was founded by a group of designers who came together, ironically, because and despite of various stigmas against each other.
Conceived by Cheryl Tng, founder and head honcho of Empire Collective, the unconventional tie-up actually has more in common after more than a fleeting glance. “Initially, there was a lot of questions raised about the feasibility of such a collaborative art push due to the different mediums that we operate in”, Cheryl said. There were also lengthy discussions regarding the direction of the collaboration before eventually realising that they had the same direction to create something that allowed various art forms to interact with one another and create something that would potentially be inclusive and unique.
The featured collection of apparel features multiple cap designs as well as a t-shirt, celebrating their partnership. The designs prominently feature their choice motif of a hand holding up a crescent moon – symbolising Empire Collective’s mission of “Taking Over The Night”. The overlaying text, which reads “Up All Night”, is pretty self-explanatory in context with their nightlife involvement. “The designs were a collective, sit-down-together, kind of decision”, Cheryl explains with a laugh. “We wanted to make it something unique and something we could all identify with. Obviously, it wasn’t easy but definitely something memorable and a sort-of milestone for us individually and collectively.”
With a huge party and an apparel to pair it with, the bar has been set unexpectedly high especially with the collaboration still in a rather infant stage of development. “This definitely isn’t like a start and end to the partnership”, Cheryl said. “What we can say is that, there really isn’t a definite timeline. A lot of it really depends on our schedules and how well we hold down our “day jobs” to say the least. More importantly, what else can we do differently together? There really isn’t a point in just following norms and being just another flash in the pan.”
#UpAllNight is happening this Friday at Club Millian, doors open at 2200.
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/420330564973063/
Credits: Matthew Lau
It is now slightly more than two weeks since the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival wrapped up, continuing the usual trend as the entree to the year’s gig calendar that was served once again with a large portion of heavy showers from start to finish. The weather situation, however, did little to rain on the parade (we had to) of Sam Rui as we found out before her debut performance at a major festival.
We had little time and got right to it quizzing her on how she felt about joining an exclusive list of local artistes to have graced the festival over the last few years. “The pressure is on!” she replied. “I feel really excited and kind of really scared at the same time carrying the torch. But you know what, I’ve already come so far and the band and the songs are going to be really tight.”
Having first seen her play years ago, her transformation from folk songwriter to R&B singer has brought unprecedented success along with a newfound attention to her bold new image. “Previously I was really shy and comfortable being in my own shell but now with the full band, I feel more confident and it shows especially now with a fuller sound.”
She admits that the maturity process has also made her smarter. “I used to write about boys and I still write about boys!” she exclaimed with a laugh. “I guess I’ve slowly started to be a bit more calculated in the way I want the message to go across, especially with the increased audience. There’s more thought into the process behind the production and the exact message I want to bring across.”
“I used to write about boys
and I still write about boys!”
Besides being a budding singer, Sam has also retained a keen interest in art; something we were wondering if we would see incorporated into her music. “Art has always been something that has been close to my heart from young, and will forever be my main bitch!” she clarifies to a series of sniggers.
“To me, art and music are two entirely different mediums where I express myself.” She clarifies that music is more an outward manifestation while art retains a more internal reflection of events. “To me art is a more contemplative process, and the person I am when I’m doing art versus when I’m doing music is completely different. I get very tense and so far I’ve yet to really find any middle ground where I can combine both mediums effectively.”
Beyond the confidence exuded, there was still a certain air of awe hanging since the remarkable journey has brought Sam from audience to performer in a matter of years. Still remembering her first Laneway experience years ago, she remarks that meeting some of her influences like Sampa The Great, Glass Animals and NAOO would prove to be as surreal as the performance itself. “It’s going to be crazy backstage. I mean I would be ecstatic to even brush past them later!”
Admitting that this performance would be the first preview of her upcoming EP scheduled to release in the months to come, the pressure was proportionate to the debut. Apart from a caffeine overdose from cups of coffee, we cheekily asked if there was a pre-gig ritual that would settle the nerves and get her into the zone. “I’m actually really high-strung, and we’re all actually supposed to take a shot before the set, but I’m quite a lightweight so maybe that’s not such a great idea!” she said. “But yes, I usually just try to chill out and breathe otherwise…”
No mishaps or worst-case-scenario projections in mind happened post-interview.
For many young fashionistas in their early twenties, the concept of fashion would usually go somewhere along the lines of an expensive and obsessive hobby that never really ceases. The constant fear of being seen in any attire that has exceeded it’s shelf life in retail stores hangs heavy and large over minds slowly shaped by media personalities and peers alike over numerous mediums. However, for such a consumer centric industry, it is a tragedy that few have aspirations to make something they can truly call their own.
Enter Judgement. : The latest manifestation of courage and sweat to toss their hats into the stress chamber of an industry that is fashion. The aspiring clothing brand is a collaborative effort put together by Timothy Ezekiel, 22, and Elizabeth Tan, 19. Originally an experiment to salvage old clothing, the ideas eventually birthed forth into an avenue to freely express themselves. “Judgement. is really just an expression of who we are and our own take on fashion”, Timothy said. “There’s something comforting about creating a piece of clothing that you, not just feel comfortable in, but also feel like you can truly be yourself; with no judgement.”
Keen photographers, the duo spent many a month thinking of their primary design and more importantly aligning their philosophy and steadying their artistic direction. “Creation and destruction is actually two sides of the same coin”, Elizabeth explains. “They’re really just two beautiful births in juxtaposition, complementing each other in process. One can’t create without destroying, and destruction itself creates and manifests into another form.”
Aptly named “We Are Not Your Friends”, their first collection aims to question the rules of society: the pillars of conventional thought. The collection specifically targets two specific groups of people: artists and anarchists. “Just in the way countries have flags, the aim is to have this collection represent those who are sick and tired of following what years of repeating this invisible, endless cycle has inbred into the fabric of our human nature”, Timothy said.
“Creation and destruction is actually two sides of the same coin”
Having seen many of his friends and family conscripted into the daily rat race, the collection also aims to “tear itself away from these systems, and to define their own worth”. “This is anarchy through art”, Timothy concludes with a silent thought. Although esoteric and introspective in thought, their designs don’t exactly fall too far off the grid with frayed fabric and raw edges representing “the beauty we see in decay”.
A sobering thought floats by and the duo acknowledges that for a small team of two, the workload has taken an additional toll considering that the duo already have commitments to national service and school. “Creating a brand isn’t easy”, Elizabeth said matter of factly when quizzed on their organisational tasks. “There are already tons of other great concepts out there. Exceptional is becoming the new norm.”
“Small-team syndrome” isn’t exactly a new concept to them either with its ugly head rearing early on in their planning phases. “Zero to no sleep is definitely a pre-requisite for success”, Elizabeth exclaims. “Suppliers tend to only reply during the wee hours of the morning. Understandable, considering the different time zones and such.” The team also shares multiple anecdotes of suppliers, who were “frankly disappointing” with the product they promised falling far off the mark. “We had suppliers who sent us samples with the designs already falling off, or with very, patchy threadwork that was beyond slipshot.” Though rueing the costs of these mishaps, they are satisfied as “the many wrongs have led to a right”.
“There’s something comforting about creating a piece of clothing that you, not just feel comfortable in, but also feel like you can truly be yourself; with no judgement.”
All negativity aside, the small Judgement. team also ensures that there is greater control in what happens within the brand with both members knowing their roles. Elizabeth’s tasks include overseeing the marketing and finances of the brand, while Timothy bears most of the creative and brainstorming load. “I’m a little neater and maybe a bit more structured in the way I do things”, she said with a laugh. “I think our personalities compliment well, and it ensures a good platform for the design to realise it’s fullest potential.”
Timothy’s tasking is rather non-linear, however, and comes in bursts and spurts, which takes its toll, often leaving him frustrated. “Similar to our philosophy, we both see the end product, though one of us sees it from beginning to end, and the other vice versa.”
When quizzed on their future endeavours and beyond their first collection, they take a moment to ponder, with both searching the other for answers. A small discussion takes place, and I wonder if the touted answers would eventually take shape in the future. A more conservative response is agreed upon however, and they admit that beyond their first collection, they are uninspired at the moment; an honest luxury that they know they can’t afford in the hustle that never sleeps. “Timeframe? Well, that’s something we can’t define at present”, Timothy answers carefully. “We’ll definitely need a bigger ‘thinktank’, than the one we had for this collection. New births, new deaths, who’s to say what this new experience is going to teach us?”
The collection is due to be released sometime in mid 2017.
Check back here and here for the latest news.
Influential people hanging out | photo credits: KEIICHI NITTA
Yes, it is 2017 now but we’re going to dwell on that BAPE x mastermind JAPAN collaboration that was definitely the highlight of the festive season. Five years in the making, the brands picked up where they left off and it was an easy, sure-win formula that was a resounding success. Skulls and apes aside, the collection is yet another brick in one man’s personal wall of fame: Hiroshi Fujiwara.
Like any dreamer, his first few steps into realisation began as an 18 year old moving away from his hometown to the sprawling and still-relatively Bohemian Tokyo. Quietly setting up his first boutique in the early 80’s, he was yet another faceless designer swimming in the sprawl of the countless other budding artists. The oriental design was then one that was domesticated within it’s own kind and probably one of the reasons where “cult following” can be traced to in an eastern respect.
Fujiwara was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of many of the who’s who during his trips to London and New York. It was the birthing of another one of his babies – music. It was the golden ages of Hip Hop, and Fujiwara was sold. One could almost call it an epiphany and Fujiwara’s revelation was a vision that he was sold and one that he brought back. Much like Marco Polo's many pilgrimages of exchange, this was to be his connection between east and west. It was also probably his most important trip ever.
Fresh (spelled with a capital ‘p’) was the consensus given upon his return as he shared his new magic amongst his peers, and already growing number of admirers. The appraisal unofficially crowned him the king of the Harajuku district as he continued pursuing both masters with great aplomb. It was then that he launched his first brand, Good Enough. His forays into music production were also greeted with great success; with hip hop culture in Japan giving him yet another crown.
Though an ever-present figure internationally, it’s probably closer to home where his influence reigns supreme with many renowned designers including Nigo and Jun Takahashi of BAPE and Undercover fame respectively having acknowledged his hand in their directions, both design and business wise. The duo incidentally met while studying in Bunta, and opened NOWHERE; the birthplace of both said brands. The shop opened quietly in uptown Urahara, and somewhere in the neon lights and backalleys birth forth the likes of Neighbourhood, WTPAS and Bounty Hunter amongst others. Fujiwara and Takahashi were also behind the brains behind the now defunct Anarchy Forever Forever Anarchy – the short-lived, openly counterculture clothing line that was popular amongst punks of that era.
The star was clearly shining brightly, and Fujiwara was just getting started. His collaborations with Nike have been known for their longevity and notoriously limited sneaker releases that have both resellers and enthusiasts licking their lips and pulling their hairs out. His dossiers of works have also stretched beyond just fashion, and counts the likes of Apple and Starbucks amongst his most high-profile collaborations. Bizarrely enough, Fujiwara also has his Midas touch in musical instruments with guitar makers, Martin & Co. releasing a “line” in collaboration with Eric Clapton - a testament to his success even in the music industry. Quite the DJ and performer, Fujiwara does make it on television sometimes playing a few tunes and then some.
Nowadays, Fujiwara has dedicated most of his time into his designs in Fragment. Most notably, Fujiwara has recently collaborated together with high-fashion label Louis Vuitton, releasing a capsule collection limited to the Japanese market within a few weeks of the latter’s own showcase at Paris Fashion Week. Crazily enough, another collection has already been recently teased. Known to be rather cryptic, it is anyone's guess what's in store for one of the GOAT.
It is rather incredible that his achievements far exceed his comparatively young age of 53. Though the New Year is often associated with all things different, we’d reckon it’s safe to say we want exactly the same from Hiroshi Fujiwara.
Depending on whether you’re the half-full or half-empty kind of person, the ending of the year would either be a major sigh of relief or a mad scramble to tick off more boxes on that to-do list (that’s probably dusty and crumpled; no prizes for guessing how we view our glasses). Irregardless of which side of the age-old, Greek-tunic donning question you’re on, one can easily answer to the best of his knowledge that this year may be one of the most significant years in the history of the local music scene.
Let's face it, resellers are very much part and parcel of sneaker culture just like you and me. Love em or hate em, as long sneakers will be put on shelves and pumped out month after month, they're very much here to stay. However, what has become synonymous with every release is the cry of "all sold to resellers", "f**k resellers" and etc. If a hyped sneaker is put on sale and subsequently gets snapped up, it's the resellers fault.
With all the recent doom and gloom being reflected in the international media surrounding elections and the likes, a phenomena of a completely different kind has gripped our sunny shores and been subjected to scrutiny of the highest order: queues.