Singapore contemporary fashion spotlighted in first foray of ACM’s #SGFASHIONNOW to South Korea

Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) unveils the third edition of #SGFASHIONNOW in Busan and Seoul, travelling for the first time to South Korea.

Made possible by the Korea Foundation (KF) and organised in collaboration with LASALLE College of the Arts’ School of Fashion and the Singapore Fashion Council, this is the first time the experimental contemporary fashion showcase will be presented outside Singapore. Launching first in Busan at the KF ASEAN Culture House from August 10 to October 29, 2023, it will be shown in Seoul at KF Gallery from November 21, 2023, to January 31, 2024.

#SGFASHIONNOW celebrates contemporary fashion in Singapore through the lens of its multicultural, cosmopolitan port city heritage. This year’s showcase is the largest iteration yet, bringing together 27 Singapore fashion designers, including pioneering designers Thomas Wee, Andrew Gn, and Ashley Isham, and two recent winners of the national fashion design competition Singapore Stories, Jon Max Goh and Kavita Thulasidas.

Stylemart, Kavita Thulasidas, Eternal Weaves Collection, his ensemble comprises a kebaya made of white floral lace accentuated with two panels of blue and gold beads; and a gara featuring intricate silk thread handiwork inspired by traditional Parsi embroidery, with flora and fauna that symbolise purity and protection.
Stylemart – Kavita Thulasidas, Eternal Weaves Collection. This ensemble comprises a kebaya made of white floral lace accentuated with two panels of blue and gold beads; and a gara featuring intricate silk thread handiwork inspired by traditional Parsi embroidery, with flora and fauna that symbolise purity and protection. Photo courtesy: Korea Foundation
Youths in Balaclava- Psycho Highway Collection Singapore, 2022.
Harry Halim – BELLADONNA Collection, Autumn-Winter 2021. Photo courtesy: Korea Foundation
Baëlf Design- Dress Grande Couronne.
Baëlf Design – Dress Grande Couronne. Photo courtesy: Korea Foundation

Kennie Ting, Director of ACM and Peranakan Museum, shares, “We are terribly excited to be presenting the third edition of #SGFASHIONNOW in two of Asia’s most dynamic cities, Busan and Seoul; even more so as we celebrate Singapore’s National Day this August. Presented in strong partnership with the Korea Foundation, this is the first time a special exhibition on contemporary Singaporean fashion designers has travelled abroad, and is thus an extraordinary milestone for us.

“The showcase has been made possible with the support of the Singapore Embassy in Korea and the Singapore Fashion Council. I’d like to profusely thank our ongoing partner and co-curator, LASALLE College of the Arts’ School of Fashion, and all of the Singapore designers who have been part of #SGFASHIONNOW in its various editions. I’m also grateful to the Korea Foundation for the exceptional support and partnership!

“The 2023 edition of #SGFASHIONNOW connects Singapore and South Korea — two Asian nations that take pride in their heritage, even as they are contemporary and forward-looking in their outlook.

“The showcase presents only a small glimpse of the incredible energy, creativity and cultural diversity in Singapore’s contemporary fashion scene, and is ACM’s way of celebrating our creative talent. We are curious to find out how South Korean audiences will respond to the exhibition.

“We hope that it will inspire greater interest in Singapore’s fashion scene, and spark discussions on fashion, heritage, technology and cultural identity. Certainly, we hope this also helps build closer ties between our peoples and creative talent.”

Contemporary designs inspired by traditional techniques and silhouettes
Contemporary designs inspired by traditional techniques and silhouettes. Photo courtesy: Korea Foundation

Visitors are invited to discover the creativity and diversity of Singapore’s contemporary fashion industry, explored in three parts. Craftsmanship traces the legacy of tailoring and dressmaking in Singapore, paying homage to some of the most established Singaporean designers and the enduring quality and elegance of their works. Innovation in Tradition explores how traditional techniques and silhouettes have been incorporated into contemporary fashion designs, in celebration of Singapore’s identity as a technology hub rich with heritage and culture. Urbanite spotlights vibrant streetwear and designs inspired by Singapore’s urban landscape and explores the country’s identity as a dynamic global city.

Seven new pieces will be showcased for the first time, including those by designers who have made forays into the South Korea fashion scene, such as fashion collective Youths in Balaclava, known for their links to youth culture; ESH by Esther Choy, who showcased at the recent Busan Fashion Week 2023; and Harry Halim, whose work was worn by singer and rapper Lee Chae-rin (CL) from 2NE1. The showcase also features a work by Baëlf Design, who specialises in novel manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing and laser cutting.

Rhee Jong Kook, Executive Vice-President of Korea Foundation, shares, “We are honoured to collaborate with the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore’s renowned national museum, for the exhibition 'Runway Singapore #SGFASHIONNOW' in South Korea. By organising this exhibition in the representative cosmopolitan cities of Busan and Seoul, we are delighted to have the opportunity to introduce the diverse fashion scene of Singapore, often regarded as the heart of multiculturalism, not only to Koreans but also to visitors from around the world.”

He adds, “The first exhibition, held at the KF ASEAN Culture House in Busan, opens in August, making it even more meaningful as it coincides with Singapore's National Day. We believe Singapore, a nation where people of different ethnicities, religions, and cultures peacefully coexist and achieve remarkable prosperity, possesses noteworthy potential to which the world should pay attention.

“Through the works being showcased, we anticipate lively discussions about dynamic Singaporean fashion, which embraces a fusion of diverse cultures as well as continuous innovation and transformation of traditions.

“Some of the participating fashion designers have already been involved in creating stage costumes for K-pop artists, illustrating how Singaporean fashion design is already intertwined with Korean popular culture.”

The public programme will include an artists' talk held on August 18, 2023, sharing the influence of Singaporean traditions in the creative journeys of Singapore fashion designers, and a panel discussion on how each traditional culture influences the contemporary fashion scenes in Korea and Singapore.

Moderated by Professor Yoon Chorong from Pusan National University's Department of Clothing and Textiles, speakers include Kennie Ting, Director of ACM and Peranakan Museum, and fashion designers Elyn Wong from Stolen and Baëlf Design’s Lionel Wong. The talk will be accompanied by student presentations on K-Fashion, and an exhibition tour conducted by Dominic Low, Curator at the Asian Civilisations Museum.