Singapore street style gets real
SINGAPORE — Style, as we all know, is not really about what you wear — it is about who you are. And to have street cred, you have to have proved your worth through sheer grit and hard work — such as the six Singaporeans Puma has identified for its Run The Streets campaign, which aims to introduce Ignite Limitless, the brand’s new range of lifestyle products with performance features.
The Singaporeans in question are rapper Shigga Shay, crochet and dreads artist Kelly Limerick, bartender Vijay Mudaliar, graffiti artist Cen02, Fishball Story “hawkerpreneur” Douglas Ng, and DJ Amanda Keisha Ang.
“(What) all of the six personalities have in common (are) the spirit of starting somewhere, undying perseverance, and passion to establish themselves in each of their fields and craft,” said Puma’s head of marketing for South-east Asia, Gabriel Yap.
“While the global counterpart of the campaign features singer-songwriter The Weeknd, we decided to create a local version of the campaign with a mix of personalities across different fields for more relatable examples Singaporeans can identify with.”
We cast a streetlight on three of these personalities to find out what makes them so legit.
SHIGGA SHAY: HEARTLAND BOY FOREVER
As a rapper, Shigga Shay sees himself as the voice of the people.
“When you put yourself in other people’s shoes and see what other people see, that’s when you can speak for them,” he said. “The fact is that we’re all the same — we’re all human, no matter what race, no matter what religion.”
The 24-year-old said that he equates being “street” in Singapore with being a heartland boy — which is how he lives.
“Being busy with my music career is one thing, but it doesn’t mean I can’t carry on with my day-to-day life, like going to the hawker centre to buy food or going grocery shopping with my mum,” he said (his heartland boy name, by the way, is Pek Jin Shen). That also means that he is better able to relate to his audience as a rapper.
“You can either (make music) in a tone of wanting to impress people, or wanting to empower people. You tell them, ‘Look, I am no different from you. I came from where you came from. If I can do it, you can, too. That’s what hip hop is all about,” he said.
His fashion choices are straightforward: “I wear whatever I feel is my mood for that day, and I don’t wear something to make people like me,” he said — not even if he is on a date.
“If I can’t really be myself on a date, then what’s the point, right? I think people should be bold in terms of dressing up. They should wear whatever they want to wear, and not worry about what people think.”
Having recently spent a month-and-a-half in Los Angeles recording new music, he is excited to release new songs later this year that will show a Singaporean’s perspective of the world, having worked on his album for the past two years. In the works too is a fashion label called 65King.
Shigga also wrote and performed the official song for Puma’s Run The Streets campaign here, which is featured in a video.
“Being street is just being as real and honest as you can be, and being true to where you came from,” he said.
KELLY LIMERICK: WALKING WORK OF ART
It is impossible to miss Kelly Limerick walking down the street. With her towering crown of colourful wool dreads, she is a self-created work of art.
The 26-year-old, whose real name is Kelly Lim, picked up crocheting at the age of seven and now makes commissioned art pieces, many of which are whimsical “monsters” based on her interpretation of her customers’ personalities. The dreads she wears are also fashioned with a crochet needle. She also recently launched a new accessory line called (HA/DE).
“Many people have commented that they can’t put a finger on what style I (present) because it changes all the time,” she said. “I thrift a lot and favour vintage clothes for their good cut and quality, which you can’t easily find today.” She is also inspired by Japanese culture.
“My interest in Japanese mythological folklore led me to create my monsters in the first place, and it was seeing the Japanese people’s attention to detail in both art and fashion that contributed to who I am today,” she said.
Choosing an artist’s career path meant having to hustle.
“Growing up as a Singaporean, I think it’s normal to consider this from a monetary point of view,” she said. That is especially since she has had to defend her choice to make art — and not allow herself to be judged on sales performances.
“It was difficult to cast that aside and tell myself to just do what I (believe in), and not care whether it gets sold or not.”
What hustling means to her is “never stopping”. “You’re always on the move, thinking about what to do next to improve your work; to be one step closer to the big dream. Sometimes I slow down and get tired, but my dreams keep me going, and there isn’t a day I don’t want to pick up my crochet needle and keep creating.”
VIJAY MUDALIAR: FUNCTION OVER FORM
Award-winning bartender Vijay Mudaliar of Native bar finds inspiration in nature — he gets down and dirty when he forages for local herbs, spices, leaves and insects to use in his concoctions.
To date, he has found between 20 and 30 varieties of edible species to use in his work. He considers his techniques and experiments a form of “moving forward with tradition” — a movement that has the power to put Singapore on the map, which he certainly did with his popular edible ants cocktail that caught the attention of local and international websites.
“We are a small city, but we’re very international and a lot of eyes are on us for the latest trends,” he said.
Pride in what Singapore has to offer is reflected in the uniforms he and his team designed, featuring batik accents. When he’s not at the bar, he favours durable clothes and shoes because of his foraging work. Where he goes, he said, is a secret. But the locations and nature of the work mean he has to keep his attire functional.
While he appreciates fashion — such as the detailing work on a favourite pair of boots — he says that it is more important to be equipped for your environment. And being “street” to him means that you “understand your surroundings; understand what’s moving around you at all times, from every angle, being sensitive to small changes”, he said.
Like Kelly Limerick and Shigga Shay, he is no stranger to the hustle. The 27-year-old has been bartending for 10 years, working at Zouk, Supper Club and The White Rabbit before opening Native bar in Amoy Street. He is part of a movement that has people looking at careers in the food and beverage industry as viable options.
“Food and beverage was seen as the lowest job that anybody could do. Now, it’s totally changed. Bartenders are being featured in magazines and newspapers,” he said. “But to me, it still feels the same — I still feel like I’m that kid from 10 years ago. It’s always about the hard work.”
His foraging work might even be one small step on the path to saving the world.
“I think insects are a way forward. I’ve seen recipes for grasshopper cookies using grasshopper flour. Demand for food is so much higher because the world’s population is growing so fast — a big insect farm could actually stop poverty.
“If you could produce enough protein fast enough, you could get food out there to a lot of people who need it,” he said.
Sounds crazy — but then again, so did his bartending dream.