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Mon, Jul 29, 2013
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Dare to swim in this $6,000 costume?
by Azim Azman

SINGAPORE - What goes into a $6,000 swimsuit?

For this mother-and-daughter team, it was a week's worth of designing and adding Swarovski crystals by painstakingly hand-sewing them onto the swimsuit.

"We're confident that the crystals will stay on if you want to go for a swim in it, but we won't recommend it," said 27-year-old Esther Loh.

The suit will make its debut at next weekend's FTV Beach Party, a showcase of high fashion swimwear that has already made waves in Dubai and Monte Carlo.

Ms Loh and her mother, Ms Christina Ho, 50, are the Singaporean team behind Inner Desire, an online business started three years ago that designs and retails luxury swimsuits, lingerie and sleepwear that usually retail for between $34 and $120.

Said Ms Ho: "At that time, online shops were starting to bloom and we felt that there was an opportunity for us to sell swimsuits and lingerie to people who wanted to buy those items but didn't want to have to go into actual shops."

They saw an opportunity for a local swimsuit brand as there were only overseas brands available.

Ms Loh designs most of Inner Desire's pieces, but she admits that she had a steep learning curve when she first started out.

She said: "I studied at Stansfield College for a business management degree from the University of London, so I did not have any design background.

"I had to learn everything on the go."

Ms Ho, who holds a full-time job as a business development manager at MYOB, a company that helps small- to medium-sized companies manage their business, helps her daughter out by making sure that her daughter has everything she needs for the business to operate. That includes helping Ms Loh to source for textiles and suppliers.

Although Ms Loh and Ms Ho's piece is based on an existing swimsuit, it was still a stressful time for the pair.

"We had a couple of 24-hour days designing and hand-stitching the crystals that go into the piece," said Ms Ho.

"It's a small market here in Singapore, so we can't just make 10,000 pieces and then wait for them to get sold off, " said Ms Ho.

The S$6,000 swim suit was created for the upcoming Fashion TV Beach Festival happening next Saturday at Tanjong Beach Club Inner Desire is one of six labels that will take part in the fashion show at next week's beach party. The other five are Gnossem, Armoire, Zardoze and Triumph International's premium lingerie range for women Valisere and the men's range, Hom.

The design using the stones was based on Singapore's tropical flora and fauna.

This piece, like all their pieces that use Swarovski crystals, are one-off pieces available for retail.

The pair were hoping to showcase 25 other Swarovski-studded swimsuits they designed, but the pieces are on the way back from the recently-concluded Miami Swim Show.

Before this, they had sponsored swimwear for several pageants such as Miss Singapore Chinatown 2012 and Miss Bikini International Singapore 2012, with the latest one being the Miss Universe Singapore 2013.

Added Ms Ho: "The rich and famous will be there, and since they're our our target market that is where we want to be."


What: Fashion TV Beach Festival
When: Aug 3, from 11am
Where: Tanjong Beach Club
Tickets: $28 (Online Pre-sale, via Eventbrite till Aug 3, 9am) $38 (At The Door)

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