SINGAPORE – With Coronavirus still in full swing, much of the fashion world is desperately searching for new ways to reach out to their customers, both to keep their attention, but importantly to also save their businesses.
In Singapore, we have been relatively lucky; now that CB is over, we can once again move around the city shopping to our hearts’ content. But our borders are still closed, and that means that local fashion brands’ business has slowed.
So, what to do? As the rest of the fashion world pivots to online sales and fashion films instead of runway shows, so too the Singapore fashion industry - by taking advantage of our country’s tip-top technology to create Singapore’s first virtual fashion festival, The Front Row.
“I had been thinking about doing something like The Front Row, a virtual fashion show, for a while,” explains co-founder Daniel Boey, known as Singapore’s ‘Godfather of fashion’.
“I had the ideas, but I needed help with developing the technology, so I put the word out that I was interested in working with someone. Luckily, I was introduced to Nick Tan at Anonymous Production Media, which is known for its work on virtual reality technology.”
Anonymous Production Media then introduced the concept of a virtual Singapore fashion event to Enterprise Singapore (ESG), and the launch of the 360-degree 3D platform concept happened quickly after, with ESG excited to get the idea up and running.
“Our proposal was fast-tracked, and we began putting everything together from mid-June - in the middle of lockdown! It meant we only have about one and a half months from concept to launch,” says Boey.
Boey reached out to his connections in the Singapore fashion industry, including long-time collaborator Jansen Siak from Word of Mouth Communications, and started getting Singapore fashion brands on board.
Sustainable and inclusive
Right from the start Boey and the team wanted The Front Row (TFR) to be about more than just selling clothes and accessories. “I wanted to create something new, something that heralds the future of the fashion industry,” says Boey.
To that end, TFR features sustainable and ethically focused brands, inclusive model hiring, and will feature emerging young designers from the recent NAFA graduating class.
Boey says that while many fashion brands are now claiming to be sustainable, much of their claims are unproven and involve a fair bit of ‘greenwashing’. While he says the brands featured in TFR do have some sustainable or ethical components, they are also all actively working on improving by using deadstock fabrics, reducing waste, and supporting at-risk communities in various ways.
Since TRF is a virtual event, this will reduce waste too. “In fashion show production there is a lot of waste,” explains Boey, “however, there have been several production companies working on being more sustainable in their practices, and this is what I am now doing in my company too.”
Support Local, support Asian, support young talent
The 21 fashion and accessories brands featured on The Front Row, range from womenswear and menswear to swimwear and jewellery. The majority of these brands would be considered small, independent businesses, without a great deal of cash available to help them establish a more significant online footprint or shopfront. That is why people will be able to buy these brands on TFR, which will become an online store and archive once the ten-day launch event is over.
“This is all about creating a platform for independent, small brands,” explains Boey. “It’s support and a celebration of our fashion businesses of the future. [They will be] online, digitally savvy, eco-friendly, and sustainable.”
Boey’s regional contacts from the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand also reached out to him about being involved in TFR, saying they also felt the need to do something new and innovative to help support the regional fashion industries.
“It was a nice show of solidarity,” says Boey. The organisers of TFR are already talking about the future of the concept, suggesting that various countries could hold their versions, like The Front Row Malaysia for example.
“I’m thrilled to be working with like-minded people on TFR from Singapore and around the region. It’s all about how we can all discover new ways of doing business,” says Boey.
While the majority of the fashion brands featured on TFR are established businesses, the team is also interested in supporting the new crop of graduate designers. A total of 22 fashion graduates from NAFA will have a chance to show their work on TFR; the fashion exhibition ‘Splat, Splash, Squish, Swish Illustrated’ by Rui Liang and Gary Goh, will be the first online interactive project between a photographer and an illustrator.
Don’t miss The Front Row!
This year is Boey’s 30th anniversary in the Singapore fashion industry, and he also wanted to do something that gave back to the creative world that had given him so much success over the years.
“I had the simple wish to do something for the Singapore fashion industry, I wanted to do something for the designers, but we also needed something to pull everyone together because of the recent Coronavirus situation. I also wanted to help the brands with online sales too, to help support their businesses during this time,” explains Boey.
The Front Row runs from August 20-29 on www.thefrontrow.style. There will be 21 Singapore brands featured on TFR, including Gin Lee, Maisha Concept, Reckless Ericka, Max Tan, Elohim by Sabrina Goh, HHER, OliveAnkara, Shirt Number White, Tria, Graye, Holtan Vibes, IKV studio and Irene Kusuma Couture, ITT Swim, Q Menswear, Binary Style, Layla Luna, Lully Selb, Marilyn Tan Jewellery, State Property and theKANG.
Follow The Front Row on Instagram at @thefrontrow.style and hashtag #TheFrontRowSG