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Profiling | BELUGA

Classy. Minimalistic. Subtle. Those were the first three adjectives that popped into my head when I first visited Beluga. The shop oozed style and class in every sense possible. The gritty visuals projected onto the glass pane were beyond cool. Beluga’s ingenious installation had already amazed and won me over without even needing me to enter their shop.

“Less is more” is evidently demonstrated to its full glory at Beluga; and to great effect might I add. Beluga leverages on its clean aesthetics and simple layout to maximize its exclusivity. The décor of the shop perfectly complements the clean cuts and simplicity of its offerings; such as French Label, Cote et Ciel.

ActuallyMAG speaks to Melvin, one third of the creative minds behind Beluga, and the meek individual coolly shows us why Beluga is able to walk the talk.

So how’s your day so far?

Melvin: Good. Started out with a cup of coffee and followed by a headache. All the good signs of a productive day ahead.

Tell us something about yourself.

M: Coming from a design background and possessing experience in said field, that’s where my skill sets come into play. In Beluga, I handle most of the work on the design end; mainly the packaging and more importantly the design direction Beluga is scaled towards.

Beluga's clean interiors

Where do you see yourself if not for Beluga?

M: In my academic days, I was more focused in the Science/Maths department. I’ll probably be in a very different occupation if not for Beluga, possibly even a government job.

A day in your life, what occurs?

M: Recently, I’ve been out and about meeting people. Aside from that, designing more or less takes up the rest of the day. Though the day might be long at times, I still very much appreciate the fact that my work is something I enjoy spending time on.

You sound really busy! So how do you manage your time?

M: I’m actually still trying to master that. But really, we’re trying to get another staff now, so it reduces my time required in the store.

What’s playing in your iPod now?

M: Currently I’m listening to Stereophonics, Bonobo, Kings of Convenience, Starsailor and trance.

Who’re your main inspirations?

M: For starters, my preferred brands are Dries van Noten, Viktor & Rolf and Neil Barrett. I admire these fashion forward designers for staying true to their individual concepts and beliefs, without being influenced by mass demands. For me, I think that inspiration doesn’t solely originate from fashion related happenings or icons; it may derive from what I observe or experience from the different walks of life, the weather, architecture, etc.

So how did you and Keng Hian meet?

M: Keng Hian was introduced to me by my other partner soon after I joined Beluga. Him being a warm and friendly person, it didn’t take long before we scratched each others’ backs.

Looking at you and Keng Hian, you guys seem to have quite different styles. So how does the partnership work?

M: Being a design influenced individual, there is a tendency on my part to be experimental at times, trying to push boundaries on the colors and designs when selecting apparels. KH has a rather accurate gauge of the customers’ wants. He has a precise knowledge of color combinations, and thus aids to balance the unconventional. It also helps that he’s good with numbers (accounts) as well.

Keng Hian and Melvin

How did the name “Beluga” form?

M: ‘Beluga’ is actually derived from a Russian word. It is the name of an endangered white whale; and its rarity translates to a sense of exclusiveness. Also, white represents a certain level of royalty and beauty; a representation of our store and label.

What is the ideology behind Beluga?

M: Beluga is targeted at a more mature audience. It is for the individual who pays more attention to finer details and appreciates quality. Quality and service are the main factors that we emphasize and pay attention to.

How do you think Beluga differs from the rest of the clothing boutiques?

M: Singapore is a place where underground labels are popular. In response to that, the labels we carry are mainly European labels – and that’s where we fit in. Branding, service, quality, labels.

'NIKOLAJ by NIKOLAJ d'ÉTOILES', just one of the many cult labels that Beluga carries

What are the plans for your store in the near future.

M: There will definitely be fresh labels introduced in Beluga, so be sure to keep a lookout for that.

Your friends like you because?

M: *Laughs* If I’m allowed to… I guess I’m a sincere friend so people feel comfortable around me. And also, I happen to be a good listener.

– Text by Toke, Images by Zhi Wei

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