LOCAL LABEL BEYOND THE VINES HAS COME A LONG WAY SINCE ITS INCEPTION FIVE YEARS AGO. WITH AN EXTENSIVE REBRANDING IN PROCESS AND A NEWLY OPENED CONCEPT SPACE AT NGEE ANN CITY (NOT TO MENTION STORES IN FIVE COUNTRIES), IT’S THE ARCHETYPE OF A SINGAPORE FASHION LABEL MADE GOOD. SO WHO BETTER TO DISCUSS THE STATE OF SINGAPORE FASHION RETAIL TODAY? BY KENG YANG SHUEN
Meet the crew: Beyond The Vines founders Daniel Chew (in orange parka) and Rebecca Ting (in green cap) and their team, all decked out in the brand’s latest
collection, In Plain Sight, which was designed with architectural and design principles in mind and includes menswear for the first time.
Two months ago, Singapore label Beyond The Vines (BTV) wiped its eponymous Instagram account slate clean. The reason? It was about to rebrand from a popular ready-to-wear operation (15 stores in Singapore and around the region) into what founders Rebecca Ting and Daniel Chew call a full-fledged creative studio. Key among this overhaul of sorts is a concept store that opened last month at Ngee Ann City offering the brand’s ever-expanding universe that now includes a new permanent menswear range alongside its well-loved womenswear as well as lifestyle products (think homeware, outdoor and tech accessories).
Of late, there seems to be a trend that sees increasingly more fashion labels branching out into lifestyle sectors. Bring this up to Ting and Chew however and the husband-and-wife duo counter that the same could be said of the inverse. Besides which, relaxed, fuss-free wares with a distinct design quality – meant to get busy professionals and creative types through the day – have always been at the heart of the brand. It’s only natural then that as it evolves (it turns five this year), that that same approach towards designing extends into all aspects of living.
“Truth be told, we have always been a design studio at heart,” says Ting. “Our approach to design has always been from a problem-solving, user-centric perspective. We believe that the best designers are the problem solvers… Progressing into a design studio really just means we’re designing a way of life.”
It stands to reason that the best designers are problem solvers – Dieter Rams and Steve Jobs come to mind. In fashion, Giorgio Armani is a prime example with his interlinked worlds of fashion, interiors, beauty, dining and hospitality. Could BTV be an empire in the making? Ahead of the opening of the brand’s 2,210 sq ft boutique at Ngee Ann City last month, we got Ting (RT) and Chew (DC) to share their philosphies as designers, entrepreneurs and one of the most understated success stories to emerge from the Singapore fashion industry.
WHAT PROMPTED THE DECISION TO REBRAND BEYOND THE VINES?
RT: “From the beginning, it was always our goal to make good design accessible to all. We started with womenswear, but over the years, as both the brand and the team grew, just focusing on that was starting to feel restrictive. There are so many elements to design and we wanted to have the freedom to express our perspective across a breadth of product categories.”
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE NEW PERMANENT MENSWEAR LINE.
RT: “Our design philosophy has always been about duality: create boldly, design simply. This will carry through into our menswear. It’s utilitarian with a focus on form and function. The pieces in the first collection are very much inspired by the guiding principles of product design. In form, you will see angled lines, panelling and subtle detailing on structured silhouettes across shirts, outerwear and bottoms. In function, we introduce toggle detailing, double pockets and also consider the optimum weight of the material for comfort. Every element is designed with intent.”
THERE SEEMS TO BE A PARTICULAR AESTHETIC POPULAR AMONG LOCAL LABELS: ACCESSIBLE PIECES THAT LEAN ON THE MINIMALIST – TRENDY YET APPROPRIATE ENOUGH FOR WORK. WOULD YOU AGREE?
RT: “I don’t think that aesthetic is just prevalent in Singapore. It probably has just stayed around longer. It could also be an impact from industry players using social media as a form of marketing, therefore giving that impression.”
WITH YOUR SUCCESS, HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE SINGAPORE FASHION SCENE AT THE MOMENT?
DC: “Singaporeans are making waves around the world – for example, Kenneth Foong who was made head chef of Noma. The voices in the local creative scene are growing louder, even if they had been slowed down by the coronavirus. The pandemic however should not stop us from making our mark around the world. There are government initiatives and the like to help, but there’s no one policy that would fit everyone… It is up to us as individuals to seize the opportunities that lie beyond.”
HOW DO YOU THINK SINGAPORE LABELS CAN DO BETTER?
RT: “We don’t feel like we’re in a position to comment on how other labels here can do better. I think it’s more about standing firm on our values and design philosophy, and understanding social trends. It was important to us that through this new identity, we would be peeling the layers off – in our tone of voice, in our visuals, in the way we approached design.”
HOW WOULD YOU SAY BTV ADDS TO THE SINGAPORE FASHION SCENE?
RT: “I’d like to think that we’re the undercurrent of liveliness and that hint of intrigue hidden in plain sight in a seemingly predictable, trend-driven industry. If anything, we hope to inspire creatives and designers to create work that reflects the truest versions of themselves.”