The music made him do it. Abhishek Poddar, who grew up listening to rock greats like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, was part of a punk rock band in boarding school. He also used to helm the decks at underground parties as a student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Later, when business trips on behalf of his family’s India-based textile company Siyaram Silk Mills brought him to Europe, he befriended many creatives in the fashion industry and eventually struck up indelible friendships with them.
“I had some really good times and became friends with many designers, so I’ve always wanted to do something with them,” he says. After about 13 years in the industry, this “something” has finally come to fruition in the form of Mr. Square, a newly launched men’s e-commerce site featuring new-to-market independent brands Poddar personally curated.
“I find that, in Singapore, there is a big divide between the high-end and mass-market brands. If you want to build a complete wardrobe, you have to visit several shops. But many men don’t have time for that because they have other priorities,” he observes. “There is a space for a mid-segment destination that offers a variety of dressing styles, ranging from elevated casuals to everyday essentials.”
The first four brands on board represent Poddar’s interests. They include Les (Art)ists, a Parisian streetwear label that pays homage to the city’s urban culture, including rap music and parkour, as well as UK brand Edmmond Studios, which he characterises as “more Spanish and a bright version of Ralph Lauren.”
Poddar is also making his mark as a third-generation director at Siyaram’s. Established in 1978, the company, listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, supplies men’s suiting and shirting textiles as well as yarns to brands such as Zara, H&M, Banana Republic and Karl Lagerfeld.
He joined Siyaram’s in 2008 after graduating from university with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and set about diversifying the business by starting a new department that focuses on producing boutique textiles like jacquard fabrics for interiors, which include draperies and cushion upholstery.
This labour of love took him years to establish. For instance, three years were devoted to ensuring the mill’s operations met his discerning requirements. Today, it supplies decorative fabrics to brands in the US, the UK, Australia and the Middle East.
“I find that, in Singapore, there is a big divide between the high-end and mass-market brands. If you want to build a complete wardrobe, you have to visit several shops. But many men don’t have time for that because they have other priorities.”
With this arm of the business finally running smoothly and his two children now aged three and six, it was time to finally launch his passion project, Mr. Square. The pandemic scuppered plans to open a physical boutique, but it didn’t stop him from forging ahead with mrsquare.co.
On top of this, he continues to channel his love for music by recording a weekly podcast featuring his DJ sets and playlists. “This is my leisure activity and I have friends from college and around the world who listen in to discover new tunes,” says Poddar, whose genres of choice include deep house, electronica and tech house.
When the children are in the mood to groove, he puts on Afrobeats by the likes of Da Capo or Kaytranada to get them moving. “Afrobeats are a cross between electronic and Afro music with an element of hip-hop. I love it and this is what our family can enjoy together.”