Singapore Fashion Festival

The first Singapore Fashion Festival was launched on 16 March 2001. The annual two-week-long festival is supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) with the aim of making Singapore the fashion capital of Asia. Festival highlights include the showcase of international and local designers’ collections, fashion shows, exhibitions and other related fringe events.

Singapore Fashion Festival is a consumer-driven fashion event started by STB in 2001 to position Singapore as the fashion capital of Asia. The idea for such a festival was mooted in 1997, but plans were shelved when tourist arrivals dipped due to the Asian financial crisis in 1998. By 2001, however, it was felt that the time was right to proceed with the launch of the festival as tourist arrivals and spending had revived.1 In 2000, visitors to Singapore spent S$2.58 billion on shopping, out of which S$1.07 billion went to fashion items such as apparel, jewellery, cosmetics and perfume.2 Recognising the contribution of the fashion industry to tourism, STB launched the Singapore Fashion Festival with the aim of attracting more high-spending, fashion-savvy shoppers.3


Entitled “Wear to Be”, the inaugural Singapore Fashion Festival ran from 16 to 31 March 2001. The event kicked off with outdoor fashion shows at the Millenia Walk shopping centre, showcasing the brands Kenzo and Moschino. Guests at the launch were also treated to a performance by jazz artiste Laura Fygi.4 One of the festival highlights was the fashion show called The Hip Parade, which saw Zouk’s carpark converted into a catwalk for fashion shows. Labels that were showcased included Armani Exchange, Boycott, OZOC and local fashion label, Island Shop. Among the exhibitions held in conjunction with the festival were the François Kollar Fashion Photography Exhibition as well as Motif(s), a fashion photography exhibition with a slant on haute couture.5

For the following year’s edition, the STB increased the number of participating international labels from 15 to 36, added 19 local designers and featured 21 events instead of 15.6 The festival opened with The Hip Parade, where 130 models sashayed down a specially constructed catwalk at One Fullerton in the latest streetwear by labels such as Mambo, Diesel, A/X, CK, DKNY, as well as brands carried by Club 21’s boutique, Blackjack.7 Local designers were given exposure in a two-day showcase called Fashion in the City. Seasoned fashion labels Celia Loe, Francis Cheong and Daniel Wang, as well as younger players Teresa Koh, Jan Khoo and Hazel Tey, were among those participating in the local showcase.8 Designs from five cutting-edge Indian designers were also shown in a charity fashion event.9

The third Singapore Fashion Festival was held from 21 March to 6 April 2003 with Mercedes-Benz as a principal sponsor.10 There were a total of 35 events, including the new Mercedes-Benz Asia Fashion Week, which featured 15 Asian designers.11 The opening gala took place at St James Power House and showcased the latest ready-to-wear collection from the Paris brand Emanuel Ungaro.12 The festival attracted over 80,000 people and garnered about S$2 million worth of media coverage.13

The Singapore Fashion Festival was held annually until 2009 when it took a hiatus and was relaunched as the Asia Fashion Exchange (AFX) in 2010.14 AFX is a joint private and public sector initiative involving the Textile and Fashion Federation of Singapore, Mercury Marketing and Communications as well as government agencies International Enterprise Singapore, SPRING Singapore and the STB.15

Singapore Fashion Festival is not to be confused with the Singapore Fashion Week, an annual trade event that began in 1988 and had been known as Fashion Connection until 2000.16 The Singapore Fashion Week was relaunched in 2015 as a core event of AFX.17


Nureza Ahmad

1. Elisabeth Gwee, “Festival to Show Off Brand-Name Fashion,” Straits Times, 21 February 2001, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Elisabeth Gwee, “Vanity Flair,” Straits Times, 14 March 2002, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Gwee, “Festival to Show Off Brand-Name Fashion”; Singapore Tourism Board, Annual Report 2001/2002 (Singapore: The Board, 2002), 48. (Call no. RCLOS 338.47915957 STB-[AR])
4. Elisabeth Gwee, “Fashion Festival Kicks Off with Outdoor Show,” Straits Times, 17 March 2001, 3. (From NewspaperSG); Singapore Tourism Board, Annual Report 2000/2001, 14.
5. Elisabeth Gwee, “Subway Humour,” Straits Times, 22 February 2001, 5; Elisabeth Gwee, “Fashion Festival 2001 Highlights,” Straits Times, 15 March 2001, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Singapore Tourism Board, Annual Report 2001/2002 (Singapore: The Board, 2002), 48. (Call no. RCLOS 338.47915957 STB-[AR])
7. “Fashion Fest Opens in Style,” Straits Times, 17 March 2002, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Singapore Tourism Board, Annual Report 2001/2002, 48; Elisabeth Gwee, “Four Show Festive Foretaste,” Straits Times, 7 March 2002, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Gwee, “Vanity Flair.”
10. Lionel Seah, “And the Benz Played On,” Straits Times, 13 March 2003, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Lionel Seah, “Let the Fun Begin,” Straits Times, 20 March 2003, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “Valli Light,” Straits Times, 24 March 2003, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Singapore Tourism Board, Annual Report 2002/2003 (Singapore: The Board, 2003), 23. (Call no. RCLOS 338.47915957 STB-[AR]); Seah, “Let the Fun Begin.” 
14. Hong Xinyi, “Revamped Fashion Festival to Be Relaunched in 2010,” Straits Times, 23 September 2008, 29. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Singapore Tourism Board, “About Asian Fashion Exchange,” Media release, 21 January 2019.
16. Lionel Seah, “Singapore Fashion Week,” Straits Times, 21 August 2003, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
17. Singapore Tourism Board, “About Asian Fashion Exchange.”

The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Fashion shows--Singapore
Ethnic festivals