[dropcap size=small]“O[/dropcap]kay, we are ready for our Backstreet Boys shot,” quips Clement Piak. And, while he might be kidding, he and his collective of friends certainly look every bit the part. There is Maverick Mok, the “Nick Carter of the group” in Piak’s words, with boyish Prince Charming looks and a seemingly conservative style, but with a surprising taste for hip-hop bling. Arael Boo – the patriarch figure of the group by virtue of his seniority and the warm generosity he extends to friends – exudes gravitas in a three-piece get-up, accented with a stunning citrine, diamond and ruby brooch by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. Looking relaxed in a Prada shirt with a muted print and a dark suit is the group’s quiet dark horse Eka Benui, the live wire of the group with the VIP party passes. Standing out in her own right is Joyan Chan, clad in a crisp-cut orchid-purple dress suit that she created. Then there’s Johannes See, looking every part the young scion in his grey tailored suit. And Piak, in a suit-shorts-and-leggings get up that is at once irreverent yet elegant, is clearly the lead singer, we mean, pack leader, with his bold individual style and trend-setting sensibilities.
The majority of them are old friends – their fathers being in Ferrari Owners’ Club Singapore – young people who grew up in the same social circles. “It’s not just fashion that brings us together, but also, food, drinking and a propensity for having fun,” says Benui matter-of-factly. The group has been growing organically as each added their own friends to the mix. As their bond deepened, they discovered a shared love for fine clothes and accessories, and thus they became a fashion tribe of sorts, attending fashion shows and brand launches together. “We interact a lot more in person than online,” shares Benui.
While they might inspire one another to explore different styles and grow their personal sartorial expression, it is perhaps the recent addition of Chan that cements their status as a fashion-focused group. It is one thing to have a collective of fashion aficionados, and another to have members that are revered personalities in the world of bespoke outfits. The only tailor in Singapore to have trained under award-winning Savile Row master and Parsons School of Fashion lecturer Rory Duffy, and a protege of Singapore’s own master tailor Thomas Wong, Chan lends an expert voice to the group’s interactions, especially when it comes to insider tips on cut and quality.
This band of brothers is not a formal collective – they don’t even have a name for the group, let alone an Instagram account for flaunting their #squadOOTD. For it is not vanity that drives them, but simply a love for the beautiful things in life.
What brought you guys together in the first place?
MM: Our parents met through the Ferrari Owners’ Club, and some of us have been hanging out in this group for about five years.
JS: I know Maverick and Clement through my parents, and met Arael at a wedding last year. Eka I met through drinking! I like to bring new people into the group because I enjoy creating synergistic relationships. I have come to know Joyan quite well (through The Prestigious) and couldn’t think of anybody better to introduce to the guys. I think she adds to this group where everybody has a distinct identity, not just in terms of style but also as leaders of the industry.
Is there a rite of initiation for new group members?
JS: Just champagne showers!
What activities do you partake in, together?
AB: We all live very close to one another and we hang out.
JS: We started by doing dinners and drinks together, and realised that we have a lot more in common.
EB: Now, we call each other for runway shows, launches and parties of fashion houses such as Prada and Louis Vuitton. But we would just hang out at the kopitiam too.
MM: And Joe (Johannes) would be in a tailored suit. Even at the kopitiam.
(RELATED: Singapore’s best-dressed gentlemen on personal style)
JS: Well, we see ladies putting in the effort to not repeat their outfits but men really don’t care too much about it. But with the influence of the guys like Clement, I have come to see that fashion is a way of expressing oneself. So now I put in my A-game all the time. I try out different things.
What do each of you bring to the table?
MM: Clement is the one with the insider scoops. And Joyan too.
JS: Every meeting with Arael and Clement is like going to a fashion show and I take a lot of sartorial pointers from them. In fact, I even took street style fashion advice from Clement’s dad (well-known fashion risk-taker Jeffrey Piak). Thanks to him, I put on a jacquard blazer to a recent ball and wore a chrome cross necklace instead of a bow tie – and even got Clement’s stamp of approval!
CP: My parents are very into fashion so I got into it naturally. We are usually notified of early launches by the boutiques – or I might learn insider tips through the bloggers I follow, and I would share the information with my friends. From there, we will discuss how to mix and match and put together a look that is unique.
JC: I really like that each of them have their own style. Like now, they might all be dressed in black suits, yet they all look unique, be it classic like Johannes, subtle yet regal like Arael or funky like Clement.
Do you try to borrow one another’s style?
CP: There was once when we wanted to borrow Maverick’s good looks…
EB: Among us we’ve got two ends of the spectrum – from Johannes’ classic looks to Clement’s edgy style. And, while I take quite a few lessons from each of them, I would dress in my own style. I wear a lot of printed shirts, Hawaiian shirts!
MM: I am still quite new to the fashion scene and I learn from my dad (the inimitable Henry “Happy” Mok) and the elders of the group. I was really a jeans and T-shirt guy – everybody else in my family is quite wild and flamboyant in their dressing and somebody has got to be the normal one! But now I have also started to accessorise.
AB: We don’t judge one another because we are all different. For example, Clement and I buy from the same brands, but we would pick totally different pieces. And even when we own the same pieces – such as a Dior suit from last season – we would wear it in completely different styles. His look was super street and loose-fitting, while mine was classically fitted.
CP: That is the interesting thing about fashion because you apply your own personality to it.
(RELATED: CapitaLand Retail deputy managing director Chris Chong on personal style and strategies for saving retail)
JS: We borrow a bit of one another’s style and try to incorporate it into our own. Rather than emulating one another, I would say that we pay homage to one another’s style.
CP: We retain our own identity.
Outside of personal development, how do you see the group evolving? Any #SquadGoals?
JS: We ended up being a fashion group not because we are Instagrammers looking for the next OOTD. It was just because we are able to connect through fashion and other passions and become a true band of brothers. And building that camaraderie is the only goal. But since cars are the starting point of many of our relationships, we are thinking of planning a drive holiday together – perhaps with shopping thrown into the itinerary!
(RELATED: Earn Chen, the fashion entrepreneur behind an empire of cool)