Guo Pei Ci Couture 2013 Fashion Show
Highlights of DFW Singapore
Thomas Wee Fashion Show
Modeconnect interviews Charina Widjaja, co-founder of Digital Fashion Week.
Digital Fashion Digital Fashion Week Singapore creates the event: DFW SG
On October 22, 2012, acclaimed Chinese Couture designer Guo Pei added her own touch of glamour to a unique event: she revealed her latest collection to the world digitally via Digital Fashion Week Singapore 2012. Her catwalk show closed this three days event, “the world’s first shoppable live streaming fashion week”. In addition to Guo Pei, Digital Fashion Week Singapore 2012 featured Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field, ANTM winner Sophie Sumner, gender bending supermodel Andrej Pejic and most importantly the collections of six home grown Singaporean designers: Eugene Lin, Tze Goh, -J-A-S-O-N-, PAULINE.NING, Thomas Wee and OwnMuse.
In collaboration with YouTube, Google+ and Zalora (Asia’s biggest online fashion store) Digital Fashion Week Singapore 2012 (DFW SG 2012) brought real time, the latest Singaporean fashion to consumers worldwide. Online viewers could take part in the fashion week action live, not only watching runway shows, pre and post show interviews and the backstage excitement and but also interacting directly with DFW throughout its social networking platforms.
As the collections were being unveiled on screens, viewers could pre-order their favourite looks on a Zadora’s dedicated platform created especially for DFW SG inaugural edition. During the month that followed, customers could continue to shop the Spring Summer 2013 collections on this platform. Cutting out the industry middlemen and delivery times, garments have been delivered within three months of the shows. DFW figures reveal that over three days, the event gathered over 2.7 million viewers from 67 different countries.
DFW is the brainchild of its co-founders Charina Widjaja and Keyis Ng – also its creative director. Both previously worked with some of the biggest creative agencies in Asia, counting high-end fashion labels such as Gucci and YSL and mass market brands such as Puma and Pull & Bear as clients. It is while working together in one of these agencies that Keyis and Charina imagined DFW SG. The idea formed when they realised how costly and difficult it had become for local designers, especially emerging ones to get the attention they deserved. By merging the worlds of technology and fashion they believe they found an effective way to promote local fashion to a regional and international audience.
In an exclusive collaboration with a prestigious international organisation, DFW SG will run its second, larger and improved edition in October 2013. This new partnership will be the first of its kind for a locally-staged fashion event. No, DFW does not want to reveal more at this point! Keeping with last year’s format, they will be inviting a number of international fashion personalities including supermodels and leading fashion designers.
In line with the international fashion calendar, DFW aims present two seasons annually (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter). They will first focus on Singapore, but will later be moving on to different Asian cities, each time raising via the DFW digital platform, the profile of local home-grown designers.
Charina, how do see technology changing the way fashion business is done?
Fashion designers in small domestic markets such as Singapore cannot build a business selling only locally. It quickly becomes vital for them to expand and sell overseas. This comes with all sort of difficulties when like Singapore you are far away from the major fashion trading centres. Many local designers, especially emerging ones do not have the necessary funds to show in New York or Europe. In this context, technology seems the perfect solution.
DFW intends make the international market accessible to emerging Asian designers, to garner ‘eyeballs’ on to their work and get their labels recognised. Thanks to technology, DFW can reach out to the international media and audiences, potentially with the same impact than any of the 4 traditional fashion weeks.
In your opinion what is the likely effect of the changes brought by technology?
Fashion will be much more accessible around the world and fashion designers will have more avenues to market themselves. This may mean, however that competition amongst designers will grow stronger: with reduced distribution barriers more designers will try to capture the global market.
What came as a surprise to you when working on the first edition of DFW SG?
We were very excited to be able to get personalities such as Patricia Field and Guo Pei to join DFW – both have excellent fashion credibility. Their commitment to DFW was a defining moment; it helped us convince sponsors and designers to come on board. Another accomplishment for us was to get a broad range of international, regional and local press to introduce the concept of DFW to their readers; this really helped us to spread the word about our event and garner an audience.
You co-founded DFW with Keyis Ng. What is the team dynamic?
We complement each other very well. I deal with the servicing and marketing aspects of our partnerships, this includes negotiating with clients and sponsors. Keyis handles the creative element of DFW such as identifying designers to feature and thinking of different ways to promote them either through social or traditional media.
What are the qualities required for launching a start-up such as DFW?
What helped us to translate our idea into reality was our network. We had friendly relations with local and international media and a wide web of business contacts and partners whose expertise greatly helped us in understanding and negotiating the challenges of starting a company from scratch.
Besides that, I feel our passion and determination to help Singaporean fashion designers be recognised internationally made a difference. We want to establish ourselves as the platform for local designers to look to when they want to expand their label.
How and on what basis did you select the designers you feature?
We pay special care when choosing designers. Each designer must exhibit individuality in their designs and have the highest quality of finishing in their clothes. They must be able to compete globally.
We curate designers to achieve a mix that represents Singapore fashion as a whole. In our first edition, we mixed established and emerging designers as well as overseas-based Singaporean designers (like Eugene Lin and Tze Goh).
What kind of designers would you like to see approach you to be part of DFW
We would like to uncover raw and underrated local talent. We look forward to helping these designers market their brand strategically and connecting them to growing network that would help them expand their label.
Can you give further details about your relationship with the designers, in particular how do you charge for your services?
We pride ourselves in not charging any fee when designers join DFW SG. We want DFW to be accessible to every local designer. Quality of design is our main selection criteria.
For the upcoming 2013 edition, we will introduce an additional event format. I can’t reveal everything yet but in parallel to the catwalk show, this event will allow invited guests to get up close and personal with the clothes and the designers. This will also be the occasion for younger, up-and-coming local designers to get exposure and increasing awareness of their brand.
Our in-house PR team invests heavily into the promotion of our designers; basically DFW acts as a one-stop service to get designers known and recognised. As much as possible, we try to link up designers with each other so they share information and inspirations or develop ideas for potential collaborations.
What would be your advice to someone launching a new fashion label?
Of course passion and determination are the two most important qualities, but designers also need to have good networking and marketing skills to ensure their brand remains relevant and economically viable.
What are your plans for the future?
We had always envisioned Digital Fashion Week to be a regional event. Two to three years from now, once we’ve ironed out all logistic issues, we would like to take DFW to the next level by expanding it to other Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok and Jakarta. Yes Digital Fashion Week Bangkok and Digital Fashion Week Jakarta are definitely in the pipeline.