Interview with His Style Diary founder William Tan By HX Yong on 25 Sep 2014 in Editorial
Any follower of men’s fashion today knows how difficult it is to keep up with the numerous evolving trends of the international scene. With the lack of English language Asian content, trends nearer to home can be even more difficult to follow. Local digital media strategist William Tan found an opportunity in this market niche when he created his now famous blog His Style Diary (www.hisstylediary.com) in 2011.
His Style Diary (HSD) is a platform devoted to men’s fashion, grooming and lifestyle topics from a distinctly Asian point of view. In addition to more traditional blog content as can be found on other sites, William has supplemented HSD with a unique shopping experience featuring several international brands and up-to-date accessories for the modern men. William hopes that with HSD, it will now become more convenient for busy working men to stay abreast of current styles and looks, and update their wardrobe according to what’s on trend all from the comfort of their office computer or mobile phone.
We recently had the privilege to interview William and explore his motivations and plans for HSD. We were surprised to learn that he did not start out in the fashion industry. Having spent most of his working years in the corporate world, this stylish digital strategist later joined the publishing media industry in Singapore, where he was exposed to the fashion world through work with magazines like August Man, Her World and Esquire. Having the opportunity to rub shoulders with brand owners, designers, stylists and celebrities, William had the perfect combination of network and insight to create a relevant and insightful guide to men’s fashion from the little red dot of Singapore.
BRAVE: When did you have the idea of starting a men’s fashion website?
WT: My idea for a men’s fashion website started in 2010, when I was working as the head of marketing for the fashion and beauty division of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). Perhaps you could say that I was bored dealing with all the women’s titles and wanted an outlet to express my passion for men’s fashion. That was also when I realised that there were not many websites focusing on menswear, and so I decided to start His Style Diary.
BRAVE: Who is the target audience for your lifestyle and fashion blogazine?
WT: I created His Style Diary to offer a platform for men with an interest in fashion and looking good to have access to updated and relevant style content. It was essentially a space for me to share and engage with other like-minded individuals who were facing the problem of a lack of quality online fashion content targeting Asian men. More importantly, I wanted to show that there is a growing number of guys who treat fashion and grooming as seriously as they do sports, gadgets and cars. Since launching HSD, I have gotten readers from all over the world: a big group in Singapore and other parts of Asia, as well as a good following from US and UK.
BRAVE: Did HSD take off immediately when it launched?
WT: Let’s just say that I have found a particular niche market that is thirsting for this type of website. I also had the experience of working in the media and magazine industry, which helped me to understand how to organize and market my content. Most importantly, I had great technical support from a development team who was able to translate my ideas into a website that stood out from many other men’s lifestyle websites in the region.
BRAVE: You have some cool features like 'HSD Pop-Up' and 'ShopFinder' on your website. Can you tell us how did those ideas come about?
WT: The shopping functions on HSD are additional features that I wanted to offer to my readers. The Pop-Up Shop is a curated collection of items that I like to share with my readers along with information on where to buy them. The ShopFinder is really cool – it is a men’s fashion search engine linked to over 300 top e-commerce websites around the world. Readers simply search according to the fashion categories they want and get a list of recommendations with details on prices and where to buy them.
The two features are all at an experimental stage but when the time is right, I want to launch a dedicated e-commerce service for men.
BRAVE: What is your take on Singapore’s fashion scene today compared to what it was like five years ago?
Stylish Singaporean, Colin Goh
WT: I think the fashion scene in Singapore is very dependent on international trends. You have the mass market, which is very US led (and that's not good to me), where casual functionality takes priority over strong fashion or style. On the other hand, you have the more fashion crowd that adores European labels and dresses according to runway trends.
Interestingly, the millennial generation is more adventurous and is open to experimenting with newer brands and trends like those coming from South Korea and Japan. With the advent of social media, I have also seen the younger generation becoming more stylish given the emergence of the selfie culture and the use of hashtags like #OOTD (that's “outfit of the day” for the uninitiated) and #mensfashion as they gain virtual popularity among their peers from their fashion choices. Sadly, the awareness of Singapore fashion labels is still very low and has with little support from local media despite several events meant to promote local designers.
BRAVE: How do you decide what to wear every day?
WT: I like to identify styles and looks that resonate with my personality. While I used to think of fashion in terms of brands and trends, I am now focused on finding a style that is personal and comfortable to me. I love to take eclectic references from magazines, websites and even street styles, as opposed to specific looks off the runway, to create my daily style.
BRAVE: Please describe your style. Has your style and taste in fashion evolved over the years?
WT: Right now I prefer a sporty lux style, and am wearing a lot of sneakers, sweat tops and maybe a bomber jacket when the weather is cooler. My current color palette comprises of a lot of black, navy and grey but I try to accentuate the look with bolder accessories, shoes or bags.
My style has never previously been quite as muted as it is now. It is constantly changing, and I am someone who dares to try almost anything. Two years ago I experimented with a lot of colors and prints, and I have also had a dapper period when I wore a lot of suits, pockets squares and brogues.
BRAVE: What are four items a stylish modern man should have in his closet?
- A grey or navy suit
Burberry Navy Suit
- Brown leather shoes
John Lobb William Leather
Monk Strap Shoes
- A well-made leather bag
Balenciaga Frame Creased
Leather Tote Bag
- A nice watch
Bremont BC Solo Watch
BRAVE: Any fashion advice for a timeless look?
WT: My advice is to stick to classic pieces and avoid buying seasonal items during sale period. Build your wardrobe with wearable pieces that you can easily mix and match, and most importantly something that you feel comfortable in.
BRAVE: In your opinion, where do you think the fashion scene is heading? Any trends or comebacks you foresee?
WT: I think the fashion scene will continue to be shaped by digital trends, seeing how much shopping via online retail platforms has become a social norm. We are probably going to see more brand collaborations as traditional brands try to re-position themselves to newer and younger audiences.
I will also be interested to see how wearable technology becomes more integrated with high street fashion. We are now just seeing the tip of the iceberg.