Profiling | Hide & Seek
Here are some reasons why we think Hide & Seek is cooler than cool. 1. Its name is a playful nod to the popular childhood game, and they coolly pulled it off without sounding the least bit childish. 2. There is an elevator in the middle of the shop. 3. Take a deep breath, and read reason #2 again. Need we say more?
Originally founded in April 2008, Hide & Seek has already seen a flurry of changes; most notably its move from Hong Kong Street (where it didn’t have an elevator) to Telok Ayer Street (where it has a badass elevator). Jokes aside, the shift has revitalized Hide & Seek in several aspects; which includes its stylistic approach, newer masterminds, and even the inception of the coveted The Black Station by Puma. One thing remains constant though; Hide & Seek’s refined playfulness is here to stay.
ActuallyMAG speaks to Keith Png, the main man hiding behind the scenes of the renowned store, and he shares with us recounts from his past and the true meaning behind “Hide & Seek”.
So how has the day been for you so far?
Keith: It has been pretty hectic. I’m supposed to go Shanghai tomorrow for a business-cum-leisure trip, and I had a few appointments for my newly launched menswear label ‘Jason’ before you came in. Also I was running through the usual backend administrative stuff…
Tell us more a little about this new menswear line, ‘Jason’.
K: Jason is a label that I conceptualized with menswear designer, J R Chan. We wanted to create a label that is not just fashion centric; but one that is ‘alive’. We wanted it to embody a character. One who’s selling his clothes out of his wardrobe.
We were thinking of names for the label, when we suddenly thought of listing the months from January to December. In doing so, we realized that the initials from July to November form ‘Jason’. We found this suitable because we believe that fashion should not be bound by seasons; but rather something that is ongoing. We gave ‘him’ a life.
We had a lot of fun with this label, and we got quite a good response when we launched it at the recent Men’s Fashion Week.
Do you have any interesting stories from before you were known as the Keith Png of today?
K: I was a struggling designer. I did my Apparel Design & Merchandizing Diploma at Temasek Polytechnic. After I finished my National Service, I started a label, Mizu, with 2 other partners, and that’s how I got into the fashion industry.
There were lots of challenges faced because we were young and inexperienced. Also, we did not have the financials, contacts to work with, etc, but we managed to pull through– which ended up being quite fun because we spent most of our time drafting and sewing our own pieces; something that we don’t really do nowadays.
Who or what are your main inspirations?
K: When I visited New York during my schooling days, I came across this shop opened by a Japanese designer. What really attracted me were his designs which were so fun and eccentric. It kind of reminds me of the current Jeremy Scott. I noticed that most of his collection were one-off pieces. He told me that it was because of the financial difficulties faced producing in mass quantities, and his solution was having his studio below his store. Whenever new designs were done, he would bring up the pieces and put it up for display. I thought the concept was intriguing, and thus followed suit and am now doing the same.
With a name like ‘Hide and Seek’, share with us the concept supporting it.
K: Hide and Seek revolves around the concept of “seeking the best in hiding”. We want to be a platform where we can showcase hidden talents. For example, there are a lot of local designers who are ready and seeking to launch their products, but they are all lacking a certain platform for them to do so. With H&S, we’re aiming to be that platform.
I’ve been to the old Hide & Seek at Hong Kong Street…
K: Oh you’ve been there? *smiles*
Yeah, and having been to both Hide & Seeks, I can’t help but notice the difference in style and aesthetics; with the overall ‘feel’ having changed. Does a change in concept or direction accompany the change in looks?
K: Yeah. It was a one-man show back in Hong Kong Street. To be honest, operating at Hong Kong Street was in accordance to my financial capabilities then. I wanted to expand, but I couldn’t do it on my own; so I found two other partners to come onboard. We all felt that there were certain changes to be made to H&S, and after much discussion, we came up with a new formula.
Although the present location is somewhat better as compared to the past where it was really hidden, we had a ‘cult’ status associated with us back then. But that appeal had its shortcomings. So with the new H&S, everything had to be more polished: from our image to the brands that we carry – everything.
Another reason was also because we wanted a lift *laughs* there were simply too many flights of stairs to climb back at Hong Kong Street!
Hide & Seek supports quite a few local brands. How do you go about selecting brands to showcase?
K: There are several factors that we look out for when assessing a brand. To us, the quality of construction is of utmost importance. Secondly, its price range. We don’t want something that appears too ‘massed’ in a sense; where pieces are available in the hundreds. The labels need to possess a unique selling point, be it their designs, or maybe even the story behind their label.
One thing that has always interested me was your label, Koops. Could you tell us more about it?
K: It actually started with me renting a room at a condominium in Town, which functioned as my showroom. I showcased my collection of one-off dresses there and started my bespoke services.
I slowly realized that most of the customers are not that receptive to coming down to the showroom as compared to the option of buying off shelves. It also makes sense that if I should open my own shop, or my own boutique, I should have my own range of ready-to-wear. Initially, Koops was just a company name. It wasn’t the name of the brand. So I thought, “Might as well use the name for my dresses”.
So what can we expect from H&S in the near future?
K: We are trying our best to follow through with H&S’ concept as a guerilla store. However, we’re kind of stonewalled at the moment; as it really is proving tough to find a location where it can fit all of H&S because of all the stuff we have *laughs*.
Also, we have been trying to incorporate a little café into our shop, and this could be our direction in the future… probably have stretches of shophouses or something. Maybe then, each department can stand on its own. And then eventually 5-10 years down the road, maybe we could even have our own bed & breakfast hotel? We can dream right? *laughs*
If you had a chance to travel back in time 20 years back and tell yourself something, what would it be?
K: Woah… Uh… I don’t think I’ll say anything? For these 20 years, there’s nothing that I really regret doing, so… I guess I’ll just keep quiet. *smiles*
For more information on Hide & Seek, visit their website @ http://hideandseek.com.sg
176 Telok Ayer Street
Tel: +65 6222 2825
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