He’s one of the country’s most legendary stand-up comics and drag queens. She’s the buzzy name-to-know tackling race, class and stereotypes. Here, the duo behind The Sharul and Kumar Show hash it out on identity, individuality and stepping into your fashionable truth by answering this: can Singaporean style be defined?
Kumar says: No
I don’t think Singaporeans have their own style because we are always copying someone. Like when K-pop became popular, suddenly Korean clothes became popular. Everybody’s lost their identity because we are no longer us, we are portraying some other culture. Originality is very important and we are lacking it. I don’t believe in following anyone. I know what I look good in, so I will always dress the way I want to dress. When I went to Taiwan, everyone looked Japanese because that’s the way they dressed. They liked Japanese fashion. But whether you look good, that’s another question altogether.
Originality is very important and we are lacking it.
What you can wear, sometimes I can’t wear. But Singaporeans don’t know that. I feel we don’t have an identity because of that. What is nice on that person doesn’t really look nice on you but you’re just wearing it because you like it or you feel that’s the fashion now. As for me, I like fashion because I’m a bit vain, so I always have to look good. I have to have the right clothes, glasses that match the clothes as well as a matching bag. Whenever I have a chance now to go out to have dinner with my friends, I make sure I look comfortable yet nice. It’s just what you are comfortable in.
Sharul says: Yes
I do think Singaporean style can be defined but it also depends on what race and what class you belong to. Each race likes to wear different kinds of clothes, especially because we have different body types. For example, Indian, Malay and Eurasian women are generally blessed with rounder hips and bigger busts; and Chinese women are blessed with petite and lean bodies. Of course, there are petite Indian women and curvy Chinese women too. Rich people usually wear expensive clothes because of the kind of events they have to attend to upkeep their social status.
Singaporean style can be defined but it also depends on what race and what class you belong to.
The youngsters in junior college or polytechnic tend to have a similar fashion sense due to their spending power and love for popular trends. You can’t tell what Singapore’s main look is, but there is a trend that everyone is following. Personally, when I was younger, I was 85kg. My fashion sense was based on what I could fit into. Being plus-size in the’90s was a disaster. It meant wearing baggy jeans and a polo shirt from Giordano or going to Far East Plaza to see if any of the smaller shops had your size. Now, local labels like The Curve Cult and other bigger brands are accommodating curvy women. There was a point in my life when I stopped trying to conform to fashion; what is comfortable and compliments my body size will become my style.
Catch Kumar live next at Boom Boom Room Live! from 24 November to 19 December, and stay tuned for the next edition of The Sharul & Kumar Show, to be announced at a later date.
Videographer David Bay
Video editor Hazirah Rahim
Styling Jasmine Ashvinkumar
Creative producer Vanessa Caitlin
Hair and make up Dewi Mahoney
Outfits Massimo Dutti and COS
For more stories like this, subscribe to the print edition of Vogue Singapore.