Entrepreneur

From Ah Boys To Oppas - This NUS Student Wants S'porean Guys To Ditch Tees And Berms For K-Fashion

Singaporean men are probably used to hearing gripes about their predictable fashion choices.

“Plain t-shirt and berms again?”

Even if it means they all look about the same in a crowd, the heat and hassle are pretty strong inhibitors against making an effort to don a personal style.

However, one young Singaporean man is hoping to change that with his menswear e-commerce venture, Chimaek Collective.

25-year-old Daryl Loh thinks Korean fashion is the answer because it’s stylish enough to add flair, yet casual enough to feel effortless.

While he’s still in his final year at National University of Singapore (NUS), he has been working hard to launch his first collection of Korean-made apparel on 17 June.

All About That K-Culture

The name Chimaek Collective may make your mouth water if you’re familiar with popular South Korean culture. If you’re learning it for the first time like myself, it’s a slang that describes the pairing of fried chicken with maekju (beer).

To Daryl, the term is “culturally significant” and well-recognised by Singaporeans.

“You now see many Korean Chimaek shops sprouting up in town here,” he said. “[It’s a part of] Korean culture that many Singaporeans embrace and are familiar with.”

Instead of binge watching K-dramas and following K-pop artistes, Daryl found the charm of Korean culture when he spent a month travelling the country in 2017.

korean mens fashion chimaek
Image Credit: Daryl Loh

Although the food, soju, and natural landscapes were all a treat, he was most inspired by the fashion he saw there.

I really admire how most Koreans take pride in their style and fashion. I always observed the effort put into the style of their outfit, be it the overall look or the small details.

Daryl noticed there were many high quality private fashion labels in Korea with good designs and competitive prices.

He felt that it gave Koreans the “luxury of choice” to piece together their personal style, and decided to start Chimaek Collective to fill this gap in Singapore’s menswear.

korean mens fashion chimaek
Image Credit: Daryl Loh

Curated Personal Style

Daryl admits he used to dress just like every other Singaporean dude, barely attempting to express his own style.

But after his month-long experience, he now owns a fair amount of clothing items from Korean private fashion labels.

He also spices up his wardrobe with accessories like caps and bags from Korean brands.

What I love about them is that they give me a unique and confident look, and are extremely easy to style.

korean mens fashion singapore
One of Chimaek’s offerings / Image Credit: Chimaek Collective

When he introduces his first collection, Daryl plans to ease people in.

He said the collection is “classic and essential, and can be easily worn and styled even if you are new to Korean style fashion”.

It will feature a selection of oversized tees and button up shirts with solid colours or simple patterns.

While most of the collection is deliberately toned down to be easily accepted by anyone, Daryl hopes some pieces with bolder stripes will satisfy the more daring customers.

korean mens fashion singapore
Image Credit: Chimaek Collective

Learning The Ropes In E-Commerce

This isn’t Daryl’s first business project, even though he’s still in university.

Previously, he created an online service to help job seekers improve their applications, called DGG Resume.

From that experience, as well as his studies in NUS Business School, Daryl says he has gained skills that came in handy for Chimaek Collective.

“For DGG Resume, I had to self-learn many digital marketing skills, such as Facebook advertising, SEO, Google Adwords, and content marketing,” he shared.

chimaek korean mens fashion online
Screenshot from Chimaek Collective website

But with a commercial aspect involved this time, new challenges arose.

Daryl found himself having to learn about handling physical products and deciding on suitable amounts of stock to bring in.

Packaging and shipping were also completely new to him.

There were many things I had to learn from scratch and do on my own — for example, buying and trying sample pieces, photo taking, building of the e-commerce site.

This venture is also the first that has required him to make a significant monetary investment.

“[The investment] is perhaps the greatest challenge as the stakes are now significantly higher, but it also helps inspire me to work harder to make the business a success,” said Daryl.

Lessons From Experience

chimaek collective
Image Credit: Daryl Loh

Daryl only has his nights and weekends to work on Chimaek Collective, since he is currently doing an internship in the midst of his degree.

Thankfully, he has received help from friends and family to make his vision become reality.

“A good friend lent me her camera for the photoshoots, my brother helped take many of the pictures, and my cousin took a whole afternoon to help model all the clothes,” he said.

The work he put in has helped Daryl develop new insights and attitudes which he feels he can use in business and in life.

He said he has learnt to see longer-term vision instead of getting too caught up in highs and lows that happen from day to day.

I’ve also developed a constant learning attitude. I focused on staying humble and open to learning new concepts and ideas, and I think this is also something I will bring with me as I pursue other things in future.

korean mens fashion singapore
Image Credit: Chimaek Collective

When he launches Chimaek Collective on 17 June, Daryl hopes to inspire more Singaporean men to dress with pride and confidence in their personal style.

In conjunction with their opening, Chimaek Collective will also be having a giveaway for their t-shirts.

Find out more about his Korean menswear classics here. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram here and here.

Featured Image Credit: Chimaek Collective

 

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