Dustin Ramos and Iris San­galang of Mon­u­ment Life­style and Dux­ton are bring­ing op­ti­mism and good vibes to Sin­ga­pore’s re­tail scene

Cal­i­for­nia na­tives Dustin Ramos and Iris San­galang of Mon­u­ment Life­style, a cafe and re­tail con­cept, and Dux­ton, a high-qual­ity ca­sual menswear brand, are bring­ing op­ti­mism and good vibes to Sin­ga­pore’s re­tail scene, which is some­thing that’s needed at th

Portfolio - - IMPRESSION - IN­TER­VIEW BY AN­TON D. JAVIER PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY DAR­REN GABRIEL LEOW

What made you de­cide that Sin­ga­pore was the per­fect place to set up your busi­ness?

We’re both from Cal­i­for­nia and our back­grounds are in tech­nol­ogy and start-ups. When we were liv­ing in New York City, the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self to move here. Not hav­ing been to Sin­ga­pore be­fore, we thought it would be a great ad­ven­ture of work­ing and trav­el­ing in South­east Asia. What was sup­posed to be two years has now be­come five. We had our first child a year ago and Sin­ga­pore just made sense as a place to raise her and to plant our first project, Mon­u­ment Life­style. It’s a won­der­ful place for chil­dren and a great place to start a busi­ness.

The re­tail and F&B con­cept is not new to Sin­ga­pore. What is Mon­u­ment Life­style’s USP that will al­low it to stand out from its pre­de­ces­sors?

We felt like ven­tur­ing into F&B and re­tail was a com­plete 180 from our pre­vi­ous lives in New York and San Fran­cisco. Iron­i­cally, it comes full cir­cle with the cus­tomers we cater to on both the cafe and fash­ion side. A lot of work meet­ings hap­pen at our cafe, whether it be start-up folks pitch­ing their new ven­ture or cre­ative agen­cies work­ing on their lat­est project with their clients. Turns out, these will be the same cus­tomers that will browse the shop, try on clothes, and buy some­thing be­fore they head out. Aside from be­ing a con­cept store where you can shop and eat, Mon­u­ment is also a place where you can get work done. It pro­vides a unique at­mos­phere as op­posed to meet­ing clients at the of­fice.

Af­ter setting up Mon­u­ment Life­style, and more re­cently, your fash­ion la­bel Dux­ton, what are your ob­ser­va­tions about Sin­ga­pore’s life­style and re­tail en­vi­ron­ment?

What we learned, not only from our own ex­pe­ri­ences but also from cus­tomers’ feed­back, is that peo­ple shop a lot when they travel. Some­times that’s be­cause they’re seek­ing out a spe­cific brand or maybe they come across some amaz­ing deals that they can’t pass up. But it’s also be­cause peo­ple find their own fa­vorite shops in cities they travel to. When we were setting up Mon­u­ment, we wanted to be one of those shops peo­ple dis­cover and re­mem­ber when vis­it­ing Sin­ga­pore.

What led to adding Dux­ton to your port­fo­lio? Was a menswear brand al­ways in the pipeline for you?

We started the brand a lit­tle over three years ago, but it was re­ally the con­ver­sa­tions at Mon­u­ment Life­style that mostly in­flu­enced our de­signs. We just got so many re­quests for qual­ity es­sen­tials that weren’t flashy and that fit per­fectly. We lis­tened to our cus­tomers and made them hap­pen.

Do you think there’s a gap in the mar­ket that the brand can fill?

The gap that Dux­ton aims to fill is an es­sen­tial men’s brand that caters to the un­con­ven­tional work uni­form. More and more of the work­force is step­ping into roles where ev­ery­day es­sen­tials are what they wear to work. Men come to our brick and mor­tar space all the time and tell us how com­fort­ing it is to find cloth­ing that feels age ap­pro­pri­ate but looks great, fits well, and makes them feel con­fi­dent for ev­ery oc­ca­sion.

How do you in­tend to grow the Dux­ton brand in Sin­ga­pore? Do you have a spe­cific cus­tomer pro­file that you are tar­get­ing?

In our first dis­cus­sions about Dux­ton, we re­al­ized that we were tar­get­ing the dream­ers and do­ers of the world. These are the folks who were rein­vent­ing them­selves mid-ca­reer and find­ing new paths. Sin­ga­pore def­i­nitely isn’t short of in­di­vid­u­als who fit the bill. As for grow­ing the brand in Sin­ga­pore, much like the de­mo­graphic we tar­get, we’re look­ing at un­con­ven­tional meth­ods of grow­ing the brand. We mixed theater and fash­ion for our launch, which went against the norm, but we love try­ing new things and be­ing cre­ative, and that’s how we’ll fo­cus on build­ing out the Dux­ton brand.

As busi­ness own­ers in Sin­ga­pore, what would you like to see more of?

There is so much diver­sity in Sin­ga­pore that it would be great to see that re­flected more in the life­style and re­tail scene.

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