Meditations on why I still want to work in fashion …

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Please Go Away: Wearing a mix of high-end labels like Stella McCartney and emerging or cult fashion brands like Killstar and Singapore independent brand Depression at Taipei Fashion Week in 2017. Image: Kenny Lim

When I graduated from high school many, many years ago, I wanted to be a fashion designer; I was accepted into Sydney College of the Arts to do jewellery design instead. For two years I struggled to be ‘artistic’ when in reality I was a designer and stylist – although that wasn’t really a career option I knew anything about at the time. I swapped into a Bachelor of Art and my journalism career took off.

Now, after being allowed to turn my passion – fashion – into my job as a fashion editor and stylist, I have somewhat achieved my earliest dream; but not completely.

You can read more about my career in the post: Meet Niki Bruce

As a passionate supporter of emerging Asian fashion and accessories designers over the last 10 years I’ve seen the difficulties the industry is currently experiencing.

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Posing with Kenny Lim, one half of independent Singapore-based fashion label Depression. The brand is the only ‘indie’ brand that’s still standing after more than 10 years in the very conservative Singapore culture. Kenny and his partner Andrew Low (the design mind behind the brand) also run Sects Shop that supports all sorts of interesting and emerging fashion labels from Asia and more broadly across the globe. Image: Andrew Low

There is ‘no money in fashion’ anymore is the cry of traditional fashion media and marketing companies as major brands leave the magazines to spend a third of their previous budgets on social media and online shopping.

And they’re right; there is no money in the traditional way of courting revenue whether it be for magazines or bricks ‘n’ mortar stores.

But they are also wrong. There are many new opportunities for young designers and brands to generate revenue, and that is equally the problem. With so many options to choose from, many creative individuals are being lost as their businesses suffer from the overwhelming competition that’s now in the marketplace.

I want to help emerging brands to work out the best possible platforms to reach their markets; I want to help young designers to understand the importance of having good press releases – being able to explain their stories to buyers and media; I want to help create new ways of monetising strong social media followings to ensure these new creatives get paid for their work.

I’m interested in creating an platform similar to Fashion East but for the Asian and Australian markets. Fashion East is a post-graduate opportunity for young designers to get the business planning and support from the industry after they have graduated; to assist them to build a brand and not just one great runway collection. I feel that this type of programme is missing the Asia-Australia context.

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Laoban: Posing under pressure from my friends during Taipei Fashion Week wearing Korean brand LIE coat from Singapore-based Asian multi brand store Society A and shoes from Opening Ceremony with a Prada pouch. Image: Kenny Lim

 

There are a number of young Asian brands, designers and other fashion professionals like stylists, photographers and models that I have mentored over the years – and I get super excited when they succeed.

This last fashion season I had three Singapore models I’ve worked with and mentored walk major brand runways. One walked for Dolce & Gabanna! One of ‘my girls’ Diya was shot for Tank Magazine by Caroline Issa; she also walked for Christian Siriano and has shot for Marie Claire UK – I’ve known her since she was 13 years old and I’m so proud of her.

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Pink please: Singapore model Diya P in a shoot I did featuring Singapore emerging fashion brands – here she’s wearing Aijek a brand that’s now being carried by Asos, which is a major break for an Asian label. Image: Darissa

Another model I’ve worked with, Jean Yong, is taking over European fashion with shoots for Vogue Italia and too many top brand runways to mention. Again, I am so excited to see talent from a tiny place like Singapore making a splash in the fashion world.

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Singapore superstar: Model Jean Yong has gone from Singapore to Europe on her unique look and lovely personality – everyone loves working with her. Image: Niki Bruce

Over the 15 or so years I’ve been in the fashion media, I’ve met so many people who were talented and hard-working but who just never managed to take the next big step towards building a really sustainable business – and by sustainable I mean just a business that can pay its staff and not close down after a couple of seasons.

With my experience, I want to help the talented people I’ve met in the industry to succeed.

I want to be able to wear their clothes and shoes, and proudly post them on my Instagram account, tagging the brand and telling people how to buy them. 

You can see some examples of my work at https://nikibruce.com/
And you can follow me on Instagram at ini_niki_b

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