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An Esquire article: Priscilla Shunmugam

by Hong Jiun Tan | | 0 comments

An excerpt from an article on Priscilla Shunmugam, by Lestari Hairul (which you can find here):

"The transition from law to fashion, at least the repeated attempts of other journalists at broaching the subject, appears to be a particular bone of contention for Shunmugam. It’s been five years, as she rightly points out, but the on-going fascination with a person who’s turned away from the straight, narrow and confirmed path of conventional success continues to be the thing that defines her for many. Despite all the praise for the strength of her designs and the quality of her pieces, that peculiar issue still sticks.

For you, reader bros, who are quite unfamiliar with the world of women’s fashion, here’s the quick and the dirty: Shunmugam is a Singapore-based Malaysian who qualified here but left her law career behind, after a few years of practice, to learn dressmaking and sewing in London. All that achieved, she returned to Singapore, plonked down her savings, together with that of investors, and set up shop designing some of the most inventive takes on Southeast Asian women’s fashion, earning accolades and awards in the process.

In an industry stuck in the dismal state of “blogshops or Instagram stars suddenly deciding that maybe [they] should start [their] own fashion label, or talented kids, who went to LaSalle or NAFA, and spent years and effort, but are going nowhere”, she is effectively at the top of the game here. Ong Shunmugam is one of the few truly independent, and most importantly, thriving labels without a dynasty of investors to fall back on or a continuous siphoning of government grants. But forget the cleverness and the sheer beauty of the work; for the media, it’s a strange case study on unconventionality made good.""


"Shunmugam juxtaposes Singapore with Bangkok, a city with a lower GDP where English isn’t widely spoken, but where creativity and all the associated industries flourish because historically, they have rarely been viewed with disdain. “You have really healthy, thriving industries that aren’t dictated by any top-down action. They don’t need grants, they don’t need initiatives, they don’t need plans; it just happens. And that’s the problem in Singapore: it’s just not happening,” she observes."


Will Singapore ever have a true thriving and exciting retail scene? 

Tags: Musings

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