Words by Sonia Sly
UNRESERVE is the new collection from Singapore-based menswear label, Graye. A series of understated pieces that are versatile and curated with Graye's DNA of East-meets-West and old meets new with an undercurrent that speaks of embracing differences in the world.
Graye is modern, accessible and wearable with an authentic voice that appeals to its growing customer base.
Launched two years ago, Graye's Director Xie Qian Qian says launching a menswear brand has required her to adapt very quickly from designing to handling all aspects of the business including marketing and logistics. Early on that posed a few challenges for the young label.
“We ran into many difficulties with production, especially being a small brand. When we started out we were visiting and being rejected by many factories, so it was tough,” says Xie.
Running a brand requires a multitude of decisions, including how to curate social media feeds and ensuring the branding remains consistent across various online platforms. Yet to have it's own physical bricks and mortar retail space, the brand operates as an online business and this March saw them participate in Boutique Fair Singapore - one of the city's biggest shopping events of the year.
“When GRAYE started it was just another menswear label [and] I wasn't able to define [the brand]. But seeing how GRAYE has grown has been hugely satisfying,” says the designer.
One of the key characteristics of the brand is the interplay between East and West, blending traditional Chinese elements with minimal casual wear. This aspect has come intuitively for Xie, who says her customers recognise the fusion. She quickly realized she was adding a modern touch to traditional designs.
“I would say the brand's identity has been reinforced as the collections have evolved,” she says.
A majority of Graye's customers are based in other parts of Asia including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan and more recently that has expanded to USA, UK and Australia.
Singapore is a multi-cultural society where people are open to an array of festivals, languages, food and traditions and the label has found locals to be very receptive.
“We have a lot of returning customers that support our aesthetic. Ultimately, there are not many brands that stay grounded to their roots in today's fast-fashion dominated society,” she says.