01: PUMPED UP KICKS
Beppe de Vito, restaurateur, Il Lido Group
What he collects Shoes
Don’t be surprised if you spot a scruffy-looking Beppe de Vito on the streets. The usually well-groomed restaurateur behind popular dining spots Il Lido, Osteria Art and Aura at National Gallery Singapore will tell you it’s intentional.
“I mind how I look, even if it’s just going to the beach or park. When I look a bit shabby, it’s because I planned it, especially if I know I’m going to get physically ‘harassed’ by my kids,” says the father of four. His wardrobe is made up of neutral-tone shirts and shorts, but de Vito injects fun into his outfits through his shoes, such as his favourite multi-coloured Rivieras (opposite page) from Strangelets in Tiong Bahru. He has over 30 pairs of shoes.
“But, if I were to wear colourful shirts (with prints), I’ll put on solid-colour shoes,” says de Vito, who credits his Italian heritage for his sense of style. At six, he would trawl the malls with his mother to shop for clothes at the turn of the season. By 13, he was already thinking about colour co-ordinating his outfits.
“I tend to match my belts with my shoes, too. Colour is a big thing to me,” he says. Once, for a week-long cruise on the Aegean Sea to celebrate a friend’s wedding, the 44-year-old researched the boat’s logo and picked a pair of bright red driving shoes from Italian luxury brand Tod’s to match it.
Still, when it comes to everyday footwear, the restaurateur with eight dining spots under his belt, including new casual eatery Braci slated to open in Boat Quay this month, prefers trainers for comfort. For this, he favours sports brand Adidas for its collaborations with fashion designers. His most recent purchase, an Adidas Y3 (opposite page) by Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, was from a multi-label store in Tokyo.
“Japan has fantastic choices. I like the multi-label shops because of the variety they offer – you get all the big brands in one place,” says de Vito, who names Tomorrowland in Shibuya as one of his favourites. He travels to Japan three to four times a year.
“I don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day so I can air them out. It’s also important to keep shoes in a dark place. Don’t put them out in the sun or the leather will crack. Even for trainers, the sides will turn yellowish.”
02: PRETTY ON THE OUTSIDE
Ryan Su, founder, The Ryan Foundation
What he collects Jackets
By day, Ryan Su cuts a serious figure as a trainee lawyer at boutique shipping law firm Ang & Partners. By night, the 27-year-old shrugs off his formal black jacket in favour of vibrant, patterned pieces.
“I have to strike a balance between being eccentric and looking dignified because of my profession,” says Su, who likes jackets as they jazz up his usual black-and-white ensemble easily. His very first piece was a green tweed jacket by Thai designer Saksit Pisalasupongs of Tube Gallery. “I love its structure and material. I have worn it to various events like Art Basel Hong Kong,” shares the avid art collector, who has a collection of about 50 pieces including works by artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. Su started The Ryan Foundation in 2012 to support arts education in Singapore.
“The most adventurous place (to wear a fun jacket) is Miami. Where the only guideline is to not be stopped by the cops.”
– Ryan Su
“I select a jacket, depending on where the art fair is. The most adventurous place would be Miami, where it seems that the only guideline is to not be stopped by cops – so fun jackets with interesting materials are much appreciated there.” For places like Basel, Switzerland and Hong Kong, Su picks more conservative jackets to match the attire of fair-goers there.
His interest in fine art has also influenced his purchases. One of his standout pieces, out of nearly 30 jackets that he owns, is a turquoise silk Dolce & Gabbana that he wears to special events, such as opening nights for art shows. “Its floral design looks like (that in) Flemish-style old Master paintings. The art history nerd in me immediately caught this reference and I had to get it,” he says.
In his wardrobe are also jackets he designed himself, like one made entirely from rooster feathers (he got them from the Sampeng market in Bangkok’s Chinatown). Su started customising his own a couple of years back, when he found ill-fitting off-the-rack jackets with overly long sleeves. He sources for material at the batik section of the Beringharjo market in Yogyakarta. “The selection is amazing and it’s very inexpensive,” says Su, who travels to Bangkok five times a year to tailor his jackets, where “workmanship is excellent”. For first-timers, Su’s advice is to take sketches and “be firm, fair and polite”. He adds: “If you take your own fabric, make sure you pay less, since the tailor doesn’t need to use his own material.”
Su usually folds his jacket inside out to protect any beading it has from getting snagged when he travels. But once home, he hangs them up to air. He shares: “After dry-cleaning, don’t keep jackets in the plastic covering for too long. It creates an ecosystem (like a humid terrarium) and jackets might grow spots, mould or discolour.”
03: MAN UP THE BLING
Hideki Akiyoshi, director, Wonder Asia
What he collects Chrome Hearts Jewellery
Hideki Akiyoshi still remembers when he first arrived in Singapore over 20 years ago, wearing a leather jacket and a scarf around his neck. “People looked at me and exclaimed, ‘siao ah!’” the director of marketing consultancy Wonder Asia recalls with a chuckle. Even so, he paid them no mind. After all, this is someone who, at 12, was the only kid carrying a Louis Vuitton travelling bag (bought by his mother) on a school excursion trip, while his friends sported Adidas or Nike bags.
“Since young, I’ve always liked watching French movies by Jean-Luc Godard and European art films. The guys’ fashion in that period was superb,” says Akiyoshi, who took inspiration from the hats, ties and rings donned by the male stars to fashion his own style. He started collecting jewellery from US brand Chrome Hearts in his early 20s – he discovered the brand from reading magazines – and now owns 22 pieces. Besides those, he owns platinum and gold jewellery from luxury brands Cartier and Bulgari.
“Sometimes, I enjoy letting the jewellery overwhelm me.”
– Hideki Akiyoshi
“Back (when I was 20), guys didn’t really have a culture of wearing jewellery, but Chrome Hearts made it sexy for men by associating the designs with rock bands, tattoos and motorbikes – things that are tough and manly.” His rule of thumb when wearing jewellery is “rugged is always better”. So, rather than polishing his silver jewellery regularly, he does not take care of it at all. For pieces with diamonds, he picks subtle ones where the gemstones are small and in a concave setting.
“It is not true that guys cannot wear bling, but it cannot be too obvious,” says Akiyoshi. “Sometimes, I enjoy letting the jewellery overwhelm me.” The most number of Chrome Hearts pieces he has ever worn at one time is 10. Such extravagance, though, is reserved for parties organised by close friends who know his sense of style and won’t judge him.
“I will add three pendants to a chain – a white-gold, a diamond and a black-diamond. I use the same combination for the bracelets on both wrists, and I put on two rings,” says Akiyoshi. The trick to wearing multiple pieces at once is to keep outfits simple. For instance, he wears plain white V-neck T-shirts from brands United Arrows and Edifice, and distressed denim jeans, when accessorising heavily.
As Chrome Hearts does not have a brick-and-mortar in Singapore, Akiyoshi shops in Taipei or Japan. But his favourite outlet is at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. “In the West Coast, they carry original pieces you can’t find anywhere else,” says Akiyoshi, who visits the buzzing resort town twice a year to watch shows like Cirque du Soleil. One of his rare finds is a dog tag with diamonds.
He says: “Chrome Hearts started using diamonds only three years ago, so this is very rare and not at any of the Asian stores.”