Spades Room And Its Boys
words and designs by angelyn
It is not an uncommon sight to see youths in Singapore starting their very own clothing business lately. We have seen the OG vintage stores from Death Threads to Loop Garms who have shown us how to appreciate the vintage phenomenon. Apart from the vintage scene, we have also seen local labels like vintagewknd starting to carry reworked pieces. With the saturated clothing scene here, it is definitely a challenge to stand out but one has a different story. Imagine vintage tees, homegrown brands, reworked and archive pieces all in one place because that is what Spades is here to offer. Delivering labels and ideas alike, Spades is more than just a brick and mortar store.
From Chaotic Haven to Commoners Regalia, the store carries a number of labels that are owned by none other than the owners of Spades: Shane, Jon, and Justin. The trio has introduced labels who curate archive clothing collection featuring Helmut Lang and Issey Miyake pieces to vintage tees into Spades but that’s not all. Labels such as Cherub and JONT that were started by Shane and Jon respectively are here to express their creativity through clothes. WIth Spades’ official opening which happened a month ago, I spoke to Jon and Shane to find out how it is like to be a young entrepreneur in the fashion scene today.
Could you share with us what is Spades all about and how it started?
Spades is a multi-label store and we decided to come together about a year ago after Justin and I did a few successful pop-ups. Justin was running Jiggy Things while I was running Cherub which was initially a vintage brand before I rebranded. We got quite a few good responses (from the pop-ups) with more than a thousand in attendance and $20-$30K in revenue. With that success, I proposed to Justin to do something permanent where we can open and bring in other local brands as well. Spades is here to act as a creative space and a place for friends to chill.
What’s the story behind Spades?
There’s actually no story behind the name. I just thought of a name that rolls off the tongue or something easy or memorable when someone says ‘Spades’. Ya know, like ‘Hey, let’s go down to Spades’ or ‘Hey, let’s chill at Spades’.
When I drafted the name ‘Spades’, it was right after Chinese New Year where I played a lot of card games and the spades card reminded me of the store name. There was one alternative name that Justin proposed which is ‘The Corner Shop’ because it is a corner unit but it really didn’t go through.
Every label under Spades is unique on its own, so could you share what each label is all about?
Jon: My label is actually under my alias so my alias is JONT with a ‘T’ at the back. I am a multi-disciplinary artist in Singapore. I like to make things so, under this, I decided after much consideration I wanted to follow through and make more products like tees or whatsoever. Then, with Spades being this multi-label store, I think it is a good place to let local creatives have a say in stuff like culture and all that. I have made some tees and pants that are unreleased and I might release them in April.
Shane: Cherub is actually my vintage brand that I started while I was serving my National Service and when I couldn’t sleep, I would vintage shop online. I began to source for a lot of clothes and after a year or so, I transformed it into my own personal brand where I would make my own pieces. After Cherub was rebranded, I wanted to continue my love for vintage which is why I started Solar’s Rebirth.
And for Jiggy Things, it’s done by Justin. It actually takes up the bigger scale of the store here. So, he has most of the brands that appeal to the youths in Singapore today like Champion, Fila, Burberry, Palace, Ellesse, Ralph Lauren and more.
Chaotic Heaven and Reduxing are our two archive brands so we brought them in because we wanted to give the youths a new perspective on clothing. Archive clothing is here to show that clothes are more than just its fabric. It acts as a time capsule: embodying the spirit of the season, the culture behind the piece and reflects the designer’s vision in the form of a garment. Many are not aware about archive clothing these days as there is a lot of research involved to know about these brands so we decided to ask them to come on board.
Freakshow is more of a gothic take on clothing. I told him it’s quite pretentious. So, Freakshow despite being unreleased features a gothic aesthetic that tempers with experimental concepts allowing consumers to try new things while staying in their comfort zone. The pieces are intricately detailed with a personalised touch and it is set to debut this year. He has learnt how to screen print the graphics that will later appear on tees. Commoners Regalia is another project by Justin so it’s reworked pieces similar to Needles. They would cut up 7 pieces of jumpers, sweatshirts or hoodies and piece them up together.
Knowing that you are the founder of Solar’s Rebirth and Cherub, how did it all begin?
I was in the army and during those two years, you kinda become brain dead as you do not do much thinking so I needed some sort of creative output. Before this, I wasn’t into fashion. I was in a sports school so I do not have any fashion background. Everything for me was very trial and error. My first few pieces are what I am not proud of like the Cherubine State Collegiate Sweater. I would emulate brands that are actually successful like Prada and such so I can draw inspiration for my pieces. So, Prada actually does something that’s called Jacquard stitching so the embroidery on this jumper is called Jacquard.
There was a lot of learning and experimenting when I started Cherub. For me, I needed to learn more about the fit of the clothing that I have made. With this year’s collection, is that shirt over there. This focuses a lot more on the fit and it went through 5 to 6 samples from the manufacturer. Regarding Solar’s Rebirth, I used to do vintage and couldn’t stay away from vintage because I only wear vintage t-shirts and I don’t wanna sound like those social activists but it actually does help the environment a lot because like 1 shirt takes 27,000 liters to make a shirt so I think I have saved 1 billion liters of water with my vintage shirts. For me, I rotate my shirts on a daily basis so when I was doing vintage in the past, I never wore the same shirt for a few months straight and I thought it was pretty fun without having much of an impact on the environment.
What are some of the things that have been sold that are dear to Spades?
It means a lot to me when anyone buys anything from Cherub. When I put my pieces here and people take an interest, it means a lot to me. I don’t put the prices up as well so if they ask about it and they actually purchase it, it says something. So, this is a ring that I made so I drew it out and sent it to the manufacturer to make. It is something very special to me because I don’t think anyone has done something like this before. Jewellery is kinda hard to create as it is either a cross or a heart or something so I was inspired by the times in the army so I made a rifle scope. It’s in full silver and I had to go through a few samples to get the perfect fit and everything.
What can we expect from Cherub’s 2020 collection?
The collection is called “Cherub bricoleur” and bricoleur means an odd job man carpenter. The focus of the collection are the trucker jackets, jeans, caps, button-up shirts or anything an odd job man would wear.
What are the challenges of starting your own label in Singapore?
One of the challenges is to try not to look like other current brands. I think right now everyone is copying each other and everyone says that there is no such thing as an original idea.
I did a remake of Harley-Davidson for this shirt and if you bring your own personal interest into things, it gives a personalised touch on the brand. Other challenges would be finding suppliers, learning how to draw because I can’t possibly make the product myself as I don’t know how to sew. So, I have to draw it out to show the manufacturers exactly what I want. I learnt about measurements, the different types of materials and types of stitching.
What is Spades supposed to signify?
I feel like for all of us, Spades is kinda like an avenue just for young, local creatives to have a say. It is to add to a bigger picture of a culture in general and hopefully, it inspires like other people come up with their own ideas and stuff like that and make it come true.
Is that the appeal of it?
I would say yeah but I would say that we are not the most professional like we don’t have a framework. We don’t have a framework that most mature stores would have but I think there’s just appeal in being amateur, you know? Just people that want to get things done and put things out so we learn a lot along the way.
What’s next for Spades?
We have a couple events coming up. The next immediate event when the coronavirus is over is this Kuala Lumpur-based brand called ghostboy.club They are pretty popular and we are discussing. In fact, we wanted them to come this April but the situation right now is not favourable. The moment all these ends, she is going to have a pop-up. We have various brands coming together for events such as my brands and we are open to other creatives. Our focus wouldn’t be getting new people to come in permanently but more of having monthly events.
Visit Spades at 1Thomson Road #01-342A S30001 from Thursday to Sunday daily. However, due to the ongoing circuit breaker, business will be closed until further notice. Opening hours: Thursday – Friday 12 PM – 8 PM & Saturday – Sunday 1 PM – 10 PM.