S’pore Startup Singaplex Pivoted To Sell GE 2020 Meme-Worthy Tees
If you want a memory of the GE 2020 drama, you might want to consider buying a deliciously snarky Singapore shirt.
This local brand recently started producing merchandise that captures the highlights of Singapore’s general election.
“As non-essential memes craftsmen whose incomes had been impacted by COVID-19, we decided to turn lemons into lemonade,” says Ken Tan, head of digital strategy at Singapore.
Some of the Singapore products include shirts with the slogans “WARM COCKLES des HEARTS” and “EAST COAST by EAST COAST” on their chest.
These slogans refer to iconic quotes from Jamus Lim of the Worker’s Party and Heng Swee Keat of the People’s Action Party.
The clothes sold by Singaporelex during the GE 2020 pleased the electorate.
“GE 2020 has definitely resulted in better sales. We can now finance our bubble tea and coffee addictions with a little more ease – important first-world crutches for coping in the troubled world we live in now, ”cheekily said Jonathan Leong, Content Manager from Singapore.
Make Money With Memes
Co-founded by Jonathan and Ken a year ago, Singaporelex is led by a group of creative professionals with almost a decade of experience. The brand was first conceived as a form of “after work therapy”.
“Halfway through, we started taking (Singapore) seriously and posting content religiously almost every day, no matter how tired or exhausted we were, as we thought it might become something bigger Says Jonathan.
Taking advantage of the world of memes, sarcasm and humor, the creative consulting firm peddles satire.
“(We make) top infotainment and satirical products for a reality that becomes crazier than fiction,” says Jonathan.
The goal? Building a sustainable “unique Singaporean brand”.
The brand is up to date with Singapore’s heartbeat: whether it’s creating creative media, recording socio-political podcasts, posting satirical memes, or creating merchandise that captures Singapore’s unique cultural climate.
“(We are creating) content that takes away the big sad, content so moving that it has the power to bring the unicorns back from extinction, even if for a brief moment.
To date, Singapore has developed content for clients like MTV, Nike and New Balance.
They include creative assets celebrating the passing of Kobe Bryant and experimental artwork from the “Internet Garden of Earthly Delights” gallery.
“The 20-box rule” speeds up the creative process
Creating clothes has always been part of the plan, says Jonathan. In fact, the very first incarnation of the Singapore website had an already integrated online store.
However, Jonathan notes that launching clothes from the start would be “suicide,” adding that the brand first needed to build its creative credibility and its own voice.
As the owner of a clothing business, Jonathan speaks from experience. This company has since ceased operations when he joined creative consultancy, and it took him about 10 years to find the courage to start a new line of clothing.
But it’s the thing of being a creative person, you’re always restless and impatient to do things – the question is how can you make it a long-term effort.
– Jonathan Leong, Co-Founder and Head of Content Singapore
Sharing more on the Singapore merchandise, he describes them as “cultural memorabilia” or “polaroid frozen images” that capture the cultural spirit of a particular moment.
The brilliance and speed of the Singapore designers are essential. Freeze frame Polaroid or not, the socio-political message on Singapore clothing is very time sensitive and requires short and lively work.
There is a trick to this. Jonathan relies on “The 20 Box Rule” – filling 20 boxes on a piece of paper with different ideas for creating viable content – a tip he took on a trip to Japan as a student.
Ultimately, the way to make clothing sustainable in terms of profit is to create “items that appeal to the Singaporean conscience… that transcend any particular event,” Ken says.
During GE 2020, the Singapore creative team was on red alert. The clothes literally came out a day or two after iconic moments occurred.
(We) were always glued to our screens reading and watching the news… every time we saw something that hit cultural awareness, we would do things really fast to get things out of all the guns.
– Jonathan Leong, Co-Founder and Head of Content Singapore
However, Singaporelex remains oblique on the more technical aspects of clothing production.
When asked about their production process, Ken simply replies, “The elves at our secret base are always hard at work creating magic for humans all over the world.”
However, sustainability enthusiasts can rest assured that Singaporelex clothing does not harm the environment or animals.
“We have not sold our souls to the devil and, so far, have a peaceful relationship with Mother Gaia,” says Jonathan
They are not there for the money
Working in the creative industry and developing a fledgling clothing business at the same time is difficult.
“There are much more profitable careers. Doing things is a lonely journey with many hours on a screen, ”admits Jonathan.
The fashion industry is notoriously fast-paced and volatile. In addition to the high turnover of new businesses, the sector is also plagued by controversies over sustainable clothing, supply line outages and labor exploitation.
Either way, there are ways to make your business work. Selling directly to consumers, especially through online stores, is becoming an increasingly popular and convenient business. Singapore uses the same model.
In the end, the brand is not in business just to “make a dough”.
“We love satire and making words and pictures feel like sex. Bringing ideas to life is just exhilarating, ”says Jonathan.
“We provide a digital therapy pathway for our readers as well as for ourselves … even though the world can be a depressing place, why not try to focus on looking at it through a light lens?”
“Because soon we’ll all be dead anyway… might as well walk towards that day laughing.”
Featured Image Credit: Singapore
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