They say opportunities arise in the most unexpected ways- this statement could not be more accurate. On the 23rd of March, I had the privilege of covering the Zalora Style Awards 2017 at the Aura Sky Lounge on top of the National Gallery of Singapore. The event commemorated the fifth anniversary of the top fashion e-commerce platform in the country. The event brought together Singapore’s fashion elite from five different categories in the industry ranging from the obvious (Best Young Designer of the Year) to the original (Gatekeeper of the Fashion Industry). The awards cover a “broad spectrum of the fashion industry” according to Ginette Chittick (a judge for the event). The genres they covered included Young Designer of the year, Stylist of the Year, Fashion Game Changer of the Year, Male style star of the year and Female Style star or the year.
Enveloped in a shroud of excitement and intimidation I scanned the area knowing I had the opportunity to meet these people. My ambition is through the roof when it comes to my career but the guests at the event had moved mountains which left us extremely overwhelmed. We finally spotted a few familiar faces (our teachers) in the crowd who basically gave us an agenda- go interview people and cover the event pre and post the awards. As daunting as it might have been I decided to take on the task and interview the people whose ambition brought them to the top of their hierarchy- Mr Parker Gunderson (CEO of Zalora), Ms. Yusrina Yusoff (Regional PR Manager aka The Brand Catalyst), Mrs.Ginnette (Program Director of the fashion at the Lasalle College of the Arts Singapore), Goh Ling Ling (winner of the young designer of the year award and owner of an exotic skin empire Ling Wu), and finally famous fashion photographer and winner of the Fashion Gamechanger of the year Lenne Chai.
I had the opportunity to interview the charismatic CEO of Zalora himself Mr Parker Gunderson, who was able to shed a light on how Zalora is bringing people with a “passion for fashion” together. In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the brand, the Awards took place across all the countries Zalora was launched in (Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines), to encourage the people who have supported them as Mr.Gunderson would like to put it. He elaborated on his plans for the e-commerce giant saying that now that they’ve found the secret formula it’s time to perfect it. His inspiring world left me in awe of how much this man has created- a five-year-old brand which has been recognised as one of the best for online shopping across eastern Asia.
As the show progressed and the winners have announced the air of the hall switched from suspense t happiness and cheer. Grace Lim was presented with the Stylist of the Year Award, Andee Chua won the Male Style Star of the year, Ellie Tan was presented with the female style star of the Star of the year, Lenne Chai won the fashion game changer of the year and Goh Ling Ling of Ling Wu took home the prize for Young Designer of the year. The winners were thrilled and shocked, to say the least (according to Lenne Chai). They were extremely grateful saying that, “Getting a bit of spotlight on design and fashion” which will be a gateway to put Singapore on the fashion map.
The ‘Zaloricons’ (the judges) of Singapore ranged from fashion editor-in-chiefs to international models. I had the privilege of interviewing a few of them after the show to gauge their perspective on the industry and where it’s heading. Mrs.Ginette Chittick: a fashion entrepreneur, leader of the fashion department at Lasalle, musician, lecturer and mother all wrapped into one- an inspiration to say the least; shared her take on the event. Her charm stood out from the crowded room and the loud music making me feel at ease during the interview. Thrilled with the progress Zalora has made for the Singapore fashion industry she believed that the event was a stepping stone for Singapore to get on the fashion map. She also exclaimed how difficult it was coming up with a decision on who needed to win the awards (because most were her friends). Her perspective on the industry was more youth orientated. She believed that the fashion industry was tough to crack but the advent pays off leaving the future of the fashion industry- “Keep on keeping on! Do not give up. It might be tough to break into sometimes but ones you’re there there’s nowhere but up”.
All in all the entire room had a unanimous outlook on the qualities the winners had to possess which ironically didn’t have to do with design aesthetic but to be consistent and persevere to make your voice known. Consistency was one of the main criteria the judges were looking at while picking the winner says, Ginette Chittick. Goh Ling Ling explained how important it has been in her career over the past 6 years to persevere- “The toughest thing to do and the biggest risk was perseverance. You reap the benefits after a while. After 6 years this is my first year. You need to be here to survive.”
All and all the event wasn’t just an awestruck moment for an ambitious kid, it put things into perspective about what it takes to really crack the industry. Looking at it from an outsiders perspective allows me to apply it to myself. Am I ready to put in 6 years of painstaking efforts to get to a point where I can actually be content with my work? Although my outlook was still positive it made me question what I was challenging and allowed me to look at my future career goals which are helping me look into different horizons in the fashion industry like entrepreneurship- Being an Anna Wintour in my own right.