You’re no stranger to the fashion industry…
I took on modelling contracts across Asia when I was in college and had the chance to submerge myself in the wonders of runway shows, shoots, designers, styling [and] make-up artistry. I used these experiences when I was scoping out plans for Gnossem years later.
Why and how did you get to Gnossem?
Gnossem was actually fuelled by technological and marketing insights than fashion itself. While I was working as a brand strategist, I noticed the huge trends towards online shopping in the Asia-Pacific region. I then researched the main barriers to shopping online for working professionals, mainly women, and how I could introduce better technology to combat those barriers.
So what makes Gnossem stand out?
Gnossem's products are quality and innovative designs by hard-to-get independent designers; in other words, fashion artisanship. The products are special because they have been lovingly created by individuals who have invested their entire souls into making their definition of style come alive. I want to revive the link between the actual designer and the fan.
So that’s Gnossem’s philosophy – what about the website?
The website achieves the philosophy through detailed product description and high-definition [HD] videos. We offer better product footage than any store in the digital universe – full-screen, HD videos of every single item in our repertoire, with special attention paid to the details. We also showcase the true fit of the product on both regular-sized fashion models and equally beautiful petite models.
How did you find designers that fit your bill?
I began with sourcing independent designers across Asia. I flew out, heard their stories and touched the materials. Knowing the work that has gone into each piece creates an emotional significance that is hard to find in many high-end brands, which are often more about 'status' than 'artisanship'. Many of our designers do not retail online or beyond their borders. We have exclusive partnerships with these designers, either on their entire online retail operation or on particular lines.
And who are the designers we should look out for?
We have a bunch of exclusive-to-Gnossem designers. Exclusive to Singapore is Hayley Kiel [Korea] who makes eel-skin handbags; exclusive to Asia are Laruicci [New York], Georgine [the Netherlands] and stonework jewellery brand Vasundhara [India]; exclusive worldwide is Suede [India], a maker of leather handbags. Local designers Marilyn Tan and Carrie K have offered up their 'Minimalist Collection' and 'Heavy Mettle Collection' respectively.
What’s your take on Singaporean designers?
Singaporean designers are on the rise. I've met so many amazingly creative fashion designers and aspiring designers who yearn for a greater opportunity to manifest their talent. I am excited to see more local talent develop to reach the heights enjoyed by such local stars such as Ashley Isham, and I want to encourage upcoming designers to dream big and not let unfounded doubts hold them down.
I’ve noticed that many new designers [were formerly] bankers, lawyers and advertising executives. In speaking with them, I’ve found that they were spurred on by a need to become accomplished in a respected profession before moving ahead with their creative passions. There seem to be less 'starving artist' types among the successful designers in Singapore.
www.gnossem.com launched on 20 April 2012.