2017's was the last Singapore Fashion Week for founder Tjin Lee

Reena Devi
Lifestyle Reporter
Photo: SGFW

Tjin Lee, founder of marketing and communications agency Mercury M&C, which organises Singapore Fashion Week, said this year’s edition is her last as the festival needs to “evolve” and “pivot”.

Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore at the book launch of “Madonnas and Mavericks: Power Women in Singapore” at the National Gallery Singapore on Wednesday (1 November), Lee said, “After 11 editions, that is my last Singapore Fashion Week. It means next year it will be ‘go big or go home’.”

Regarding her future plans for Singapore Fashion Week, Lee said, “We have to completely evolve and pivot; it cannot stay the same. I have supported Singapore designers for 11 years, but that model has to change. Singapore is too small a country to support its own local domestic fashion because designers can’t fund themselves, the market is too small. So we have to evolve and pivot. We have to change the format.”

SGFW Chairman Lee’s vision for the new and improved fashion festival involves an Asian focus and going towards the business of fashion.

“It’s got to be bigger than Singapore; think regional, think Asia. Sixty per cent of the (international) fashion market is in Asia. I don’t even know why Asian designers are trying to get to London, Paris, Milan and New York when the western designers are coming to Asia, so focus on Asia. Whatever I do next, it will either be a bigger Asian focus or it will not be. Go big or go home,” She said.

Looking back on the past 11 editions, Lee observed that the festival has already brought the biggest designers and names to Singapore such as Diane von Furstenberg, Roberto Cavalli and Victoria Beckham – but this has not benefited local designers.

“The bigger the names (have) not really elevated my local designers. It’s elevated Singapore as a capital able to attract this quality. It’s also proven we can run a world-class fashion week,” she said.

According to Lee, the festival is ready for version 2.0, which is to take the strength of what they have built and pivot to the business of fashion. Her reason for this specific shift is that Singapore is “rich in venture capitalists” and “top funds”.

“We already founded Zipcode this year; that was our proof of concept that we’re trying to get this together. We want to introduce fashion entrepreneurs, technopreneurs to VCs, hedge funds. That’s why I founded the fashion tech summit this year,” she said.

She observed that the future of fashion lies in technology and envisions this move taking the festival in that direction.

“It makes sense to pivot to the business of fashion, connecting, fundraising; a place where new technology in fashion is discovered, and I don’t just mean online stores. I mean people doing things like A.I., holographic videos. The world of retail technology is fast-paced and so fascinating, and the future of fashion lies there,” Lee added.

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Everything you need to know about the 2017 Singapore Fashion Week, here.

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