Whole9Yards Is The Local Label You Should Be Wearing Now

It hit the big time five years ago as a trendy e-tailer with thoughtful services like virtual fitting and a try-before-you-pay option, but now Whole9yards wants to establish itself as a serious designer label. Creative director Daniel Ngoo tells us how it’s changing perceptions.

whole9yards Daniel Ngoo (second from right) at a fitting for Whole9yard’s Jumanji-inspired S/S ’18 collection

It’s refined its aesthetic

DN: “We first went big with the vintage-inspired look, but it’s not a feasible theme to sustain every season. Also, that aesthetic is so different from my own, which celebrates unconventional femininity. This is why lace is (now) at the core of every collection, because I love mixing it with trendy elements and styles. Our target (customer) is someone who isn’t restricted to one sub-culture or look, and is into remixing her wardrobe to create her own personal sense of style.”

It shies away from the local tag

DN: “I don’t believe in segregating ‘Singapore labels’ and ‘international brands’. People subconsciously think of Singapore as a small market when, in truth, it’s a sizeable one. The problem is brand-conscious consumers. We need to change the perspective that ‘international labels’ have to mean big European labels. Our brand is a Singapore-based contemporary label, but we also operate an international wholesale business. We believe in making good products, and strive to continue (growing) an international presence.”

It’s gone global

DN: “We decided to venture into the international wholesale business after our S/S ’16 collection. Today, we’re sold in 18 countries (here, it’s available online and at Tangs at Tang Plaza), and have three showrooms in the key fashion cities of Shanghai, Tokyo and Milan. The showrooms open four times a year during Fashion Week, when we meet our buyers to get feedback on our pieces first-hand.”

It understands the needs of various cultures

DN: “We try to understand our markets inside out, and the specific preference of customers in each country. To appeal to a wide audience, we also create bigger collections that can cater to most people’s tastes. We are currently trying to expand into the US, for example, so we’re adding more flowy pieces into the S/S ’18 collection because (we’ve learnt that) that’s what customers there prefer.”

It’s got that Vetements connection

DN: “We believe in creating unexpected fashion visuals as part of our DNA. For example, our model could be wearing a very feminine dress, but riding a skateboard. We also work with (forward-thinking) creative individuals such as Paris-based fashion stylist Georgia Pendlebury, assistant to Lotta Volkova (stylist of the moment and Demna Gvasalia’s right hand). She’s in charge of creating the visuals for our lookbook, right from the casting to the final images.”

Photography Frenchescar Lim Art Direction Adeline Eng

This story first appeared in Female's January 2018 issue. 

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This article is originally published on Female Singapore.

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