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Mon, Dec 03, 2012
The Straits Times
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New label in town
by Rohaizatul Azhar

[Above from far right: Marketing and merchandising director Jaclyn Teo, designers Kane Tan and Sven Tan have come up with an affordable womenswear line and a collection for girls aged between three and eight.]

They were Alldressedup. Now, they have somewhere to go. After eight years with home-grown fashion label Alldressedup, its star designer Sven Tan and three colleagues have started their own label, In Good Company.

All four left Alldressedup, which has 22 international stockists, including department store Sauce in Saudi Arabia and Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong and Dubai, at separate times over the past year. But it was only when they met for dinner in June this year that they had a lightbulb moment.

They decided to combine forces and create their own affordable womenswear and also a line for young girls called Mini-me.

The collective will launch their collection at multi-label boutique Front Row in Raffles Hotel Arcade on Friday. From January, they will sell online at Ingoodcompany.asia.

Going from making their mark with one of Singapore's best-known labels to starting out without that weight of support and targeting a lower price range - $89 to $179 versus $900 for an Alldressedup evening dress - may sound daunting.

Founded in 2003, Alldressedup collaborated with the likes of British designer Nicholas King, American jewellery designer Isaac Manevitz of Ben-Amun and Francesca Versace, the niece of the late Italian designer Gianni Versace.

But Tan, 33, said: "There are clothes for adults and then there are clothes for kids, but there isn't anything like In Good Company in the market at the moment. Plus, there aren't many local kidswear designers here as well."

Tan's "good company" is made up of fellow designer Kane Tan, 30, and marketing merchandisers Julene Aw, 33, and Jaclyn Teo, 34. Aw was the first to leave Alldressedup last year, followed by the rest who started leaving from the start of this year.

Their departure might be seen with raised eyebrows, considering that its owner, Mrs Tina Tan-Leo, was involved in a multi-million-dollar court case earlier this year involving an alleged breach of fiduciary duties concerning a company under her Link group. Court proceedings are still ongoing.

But Sven Tan, a fashion design graduate of Lasalle College of the Arts and Alldressedup's principal designer, made it clear the split was amicable. In fact, the collective happily updates Mrs Tan-Leo on the progress of their new company.

And despite rumours of Alldressedup closing down amid the legal troubles, Sven Tan maintained that they were not "abandoning a sinking ship".

"All four of us learnt a lot from our years of working under Mrs Tan-Leo at Alldressedup," he said last week when Life! met him and Teo at their studio in Thye Hong Building.

"She had seen our new collection and gave us great feedback in terms of design and how to position the brand."

In an e-mail interview with Life!, Mrs Tan-Leo, who is also Alldressedup's creative director, said: "It's good to know they have decided to take on their own label. In Good Company has a distinct point of view, with designs that are accessible and wearable."

Teo, who left Alldressedup in January and is now the marketing and merchandising director for In Good Company, said: "(Both) Julene and I have always wanted to start our own online business selling quality kidswear as we felt there weren't that many good options here.

"But it was only when Kane left Alldressedup in February that the idea of designing our own kidswear line come up."

But Kane Tan, known as the "master draper" at Alldressedup for his feminine aesthetics, was apprehensive. Teo says with a laugh, "Kane was all about the sexy silhouette. Going from that to designing kidswear wasn't something he envisioned."

After meeting Sven Tan, the collective decided on designing an affordable womenswear line and developing a miniature version of the adult collection, Mini-me, for girls aged three to eight.

The $150,000 start-up company is also co-funded by a silent partner who owns an interior design company.

The collective's bricks-and-mortar launch on Friday is exclusive to Front Row, whose owner Ann Kositchotitana, 36, said: "I like the downtown chicness of In Good Company. It's easy to wear and can be mixed and matched with other wardrobe staples. The pair-up against the little girls' Mini-me collection is also a brilliant idea."

Prices for the 50-piece women's ready-to-wear line range from $89 for tops to $179 for dresses, while the Mini-me line goes from $49 for tops and $89 for dresses.

So with the star designers gone and launching a new label, what will happen to Alldressedup?

Mrs Tan-Leo said: "We are going through a brand re-alignment currently and despite not having a principal designer, designing for the collections continues as I provide the inspiration and direction every season."

She added that the label is already working on the fall/winter 2013 collecton and the pre-spring collection is slated to be launched in stores before Chinese New Year next year.

"We plan to diversify to include special capsule collection collaborations, a revamped e-store to cater to global online shoppers and strengthening our distribution strategy. We are also looking to expand into the China market."

rohai@sph.com.sg


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