Going Against the Grain

What it means to be resourceful for a Singaporean fashion label

By BERNINA SIngapore

25 Jun 2022

Founder of Shirt Number White, Shannon Lee shares his creative thought process, and challenges that have led him to his non-conventional approach to growing a fashion label.

Shannon Lee has built a solid foundation in his understanding of the aspects of running a fashion label, with his experience at a menswear brand for almost a decade. Now, for the third year, he is growing his very own womenswear label, retailing internationally. His collections are retailed at Boon Paris as well as various online platforms.

How would you describe yourself as a designer?

Just a curious designer pushing the boundaries of clothes-making.

You were trained in fashion womenswear at Raffles Design Institute, and for almost a decade, worked at a menswear label. What made you launch your own brand in 2019?

I wanted to revisit womenswear pattern-making, and to push the envelope on wearing and making a garment. I chose to start off with the white shirt to be the initial translation of this idea, revolving around a capsule of five to eight re-interpreted and artisanal shirts per year.

Images courtesy of: @shirtnumberwhite

Images courtesy of: @shirtnumberwhite

“...the objective is to be as as possible without being overtly avant-garde and non-wearable.”

Images courtesy of: @shirtnumberwhite

Walk us through your creative process, as much as you can disclose…

I usually start with research that helps me focus visually and informatively, so that the concept is translated into the shirts’ cutting, form, and details.

Images courtesy of: @shirtnumberwhite

Images courtesy of: @shirtnumberwhite

There are experimenting and developing mechanisms in the shirts, and more often than not, the details are an evolution from the previous collection.

It continues with copious amounts of sketching and sampling prototypes until I am able to present shirts that embody the inspiration.

Images courtesy of: @shirtnumberwhite

Images courtesy of: @shirtnumberwhite

Subsequently, I discuss with the photographer that I am working with to work on the visuals. Usually they will be segregated into catalog, lookbook, and/or campaign imagery.

As I have my showroom in Paris that showcases the collection for buyers a season in advance, I will have to wait for orders before arranging for production of the shirts. Once it is done, I have them shipped to my overseas buyers, and my local stockists will also receive the shirts.

Images courtesy of: Shirt Number White

Where are your collections made?

Currently they are made by local seamstresses right here in Singapore.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced, operating from Singapore?

Personally, I feel that we have a huge lack of industry infrastructure that we need to source production overseas, once the designs or workmanship becomes more complicated. There aren’t facilities or places that allow designers to explore more in textile development, as well as production capabilities besides traditional sewing.

So what’s your studio setup like?

As I make my own samples from scratch, I have my draping mannequin, drafting table, a couple of industrial machines for general sewing, and a portable home-machine for multi-purpose stitching such as buttonholes. Of course, bales of fabric to create our pieces for our overseas showroom.

Images courtesy of: @shirtnumberwhite

Images courtesy of: Shirt Number White

Despite the lack of infrastructure, Shannon has found his way around sampling and production challenges. He has crafted a unique mode of working, using equipment that best suits his brand’s location, distribution, and quantities.

Follow the developments of Shannon’s creations for Shirt Number White @shirtnumberwhite, and browse his collections here:

Nana and Bird www.nanaandbird.com Society A www.society-a.com

Idle Wild Woman www.idlewildwoman.com Fuggiamo www.fuggiamo.com
Enny Monaco hwww.ennymonacostyle.com/

Images courtesy of: Shirt Number White

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