IF there's a young festival that's starting to get bigger and better, it would be the Singapore Fashion Festival (SFF).
The fashion scene has picked up a fair bit over the years, with the mushrooming of homegrown designers and stores carrying independent labels, but the SFF - in its eighth edition this year - certainly brings forward the fashion platform unlike any event in town, say participants.
Fashion retailers such as Jay Chong, director of Sagesse Investment which helps run Curiocity at the Nanyang School of Fine Arts' fashion school, notes: 'For retailers, SFF is crucial for the fashion industry. . . for those who want to be associated with fashion. For shoppers, it's the hype around fashion and the chance to see new labels. There's no bigger event like it here as Singapore Fashion Week is more for trade,' she points out.
Thanks to the SFF, malls like Raffles City have also leveraged on the SFF's consumer-oriented platform to extend the runway to drive in its focus on fashion, as a fashion mall. It's themed its own complementary fashion event since 2005, with this year's focus on Asian designers.
'It's really been growing. . . many retailers use Raffles City's fashion event as a 'testing board' for their products,' says Ms Chong.
While it has spawned spin-off events, the smaller fashion events complement rather than make a dent on SFF's impact.
This year's SFF organiser, Mercury Marketing & Communications, has also roped in partners which aren't direct movers in the fashion scene itself to make the shopping experience much more 'lifestyle'-oriented.
Zouk, which hosts a quarterly Flea & Easy flea market, upped its cache by restricting vendor space to Singapore's top fashion 'elite' - such as designers, stylists, magazine writers, models and celebrities - and the event last weekend drew over 4,000 shoppers in five hours, says Tracy Phillips, Zouk's marketing manager. 'Flea & Easy got a lot bigger with the SFF platform as the festival had a wider reach.'
The response to another lifestyle bazaar - one featuring cult labels - at rooftop bar, Loof, this weekend has also been very positive, says Gary Tan, Loof's marketing manager. The advantage to partnering with SFF is the exposure, he agrees.
'Otherwise Rapunsale - which is meant to fill in the gap between real flea markets and designer label sales - is quite a local affair,' says Mr Tan.
The vibe that has been created around the SFF is that it's very much a consumer platform, says Tjin Lee, the festival organiser.
'We've the support of major high street labels, like Mango, Raoul, AllDressedUp and Robinson's, and we're basically saying: Come to Singapore to shop,' she says.
'And then we also celebrate Singaporean designers, besides introducing rising international designers to Asia,' she underscores.
In that event, the SFF looks set to be the 'star model' of the fashion calendar that reinforces Singapore as a fashion-shopping hub.
This article was first published in The Business Times on Apr 4, 2008.