Priscilla Shunmugam
Esquire Singapore|April 2019
Priscilla Shunmugam

Priscilla Shunmugam on the state of Singapore’s fashion industry, technology in fashion and her plans for menswear.

Eugene Lim

Our AI editor must know something that we don’t. One of the recommended topics from Squire when researching ‘Singapore’ and ‘fashion’ was Ong Shunmugam, which is unexpected. An interview with a womenswear designer for a men’s lifestyle publication? So Esquire Singapore sat down with Priscilla Shunmugam to talk about being synonymous with Singapore fashion, her thoughts on the local industry, how tech has changed the fashion landscape, and her approach to design. She also shares some exciting plans about her brand’s expansion into menswear. Like we said in the beginning, the AI editor must know something that we don’t.

ESQ: How are things with you and Ong Shunmugam since Esquire last sat down with you in 2015?

PRISCILLA SHUNMUGAM: We’ve been on a path of growth in many ways, from moving into our flagship store at Chip Bee Gardens to breaking into Hong Kong last year, which was our first time entering a major market.

ESQ: As you know, this interview is the result of our AI editor Squire’s recommendation because your brand generated the most number of results from a search of the words ‘Singapore’ and ‘fashion’. What are your thoughts on that?

PRISCILLA SHUNMUGAM: It’s bizarre to me, but Ong Shunmugam is in its the ninth year so I think it’s nice to be able to have things to show, whether tangible or intangible.

The tangible ways are perhaps when you can say, “oh I have a nice flagship store”, but equally the intangible achievements are quite important and I would classify this as one of those. It’s hard to quantify, but it really does reflect well and puts across a lot of things that we have been trying to achieve.

ESQ: In another interview, you said that you have a few good years left with your seamstresses. One of the things I notice in our fashion industry is that there are many people who are starting their fashion label by focusing on all the facets of running a label, except the ones that involve the actual know-how in making clothes. What are your views on how technology and social media marketing have become a huge part of running a fashion label and is this leading to a decline in the analogue discipline of sewing and pattern-making?

PRISCILLA SHUNMUGAM: That’s a great question, but also an uncomfortable one for many. On one hand, we are creating this barrier of entry and telling people that you can’t sit with us unless you have true-blue fashion training. But I don’t think that’s what you’re trying to say and I don’t think that is what I am trying to push as well. The question is, are you trying to run a fashion label or a fashion business? Because the two are different things.

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April 2019