Singaporean fashion designer Alfie Leong, is the founder of fashion label mu and A.W.O.L. He is noted for his signature draping, unique cut and attention to detail. He won the Singapore Fashion Designers Contest in 1995; and subsequently received a scholarship for Raffles LaSalle International School of Design. He graduated in 1998. Over the years, Leong has represented Singapore at the Beijing Fashion Week and the Smirnoff International Fashion Awards. In 2001, he made the top 20 list of international designers at the Enkamania International Competition. At home, Alfie has made waves during the Singapore Fashion Week, the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival, and the Singapore Fashion Festival. He has also collaborated with Swatch as well as homegrown street wear brand 77th Street.
In 1999, Alfie started his own label and by 2004 set up The Little Voice Pte Ltd, to create unconventional designs to inspire customers who want to express themselves. The two private labels of the company, mu and A.W.O.L., aim to blur the boundary between creativity and practicality. The designs of mu are unique yet affordable. The label offers constructed designs that are a fusion between east and west. A.W.O.L., an abbreviation for “all walk of lives”, embodies an originality and refinement that are complementary to the life of the modern women. It is achieved through unconventional construction, emphasis on details and the use of luxurious and sophisticated fabric. His practice gives him the opportunity to fuse the diverse world of inspirations and cultures that motivates him.
When designing, Alfie considers form, materials, technology as well as saleability. The creations fundamentally need to be wearable. His design process usually starts with draping. He establishes a fixed point in the human posture, typically a staple point under the armpit, where comfort is essential. Once that staple point is established, he starts to challenge the silhouette. He consciously creates new silhouettes and accentuates the form. Alfie is very unassuming about it, but the strength of his works is in his ability to apply functional details with impeccable finish. It is a skill that is honed and backed by 20 years of practice.
For Alfie, sharing industry experiences with other fashion designers is very important. He recalls experiences of bringing local designs outside of Singapore which were often not smooth sailing, sometimes even fraught with setbacks. Helping each other in the industry and bringing related industries together are important.
His belief motivated him to start Workshop Element, a label that hosts a community of designers. It seeks outlets and opportunities for local designers to showcase their works in a curated space. The first edition of Workshop Element, launched in 2012, was a pop-up store. It presented an ensemble of 19 brands and 16 designers and curators. The venture was driven by a passion to give back, inspire and inculcate values that have served him well over the years.
Alfie Leong’s advice for emerging designers:
“Young designers should be modest and stay that way. Always empty your glass and refill it, in order to absorb more and learn new things.”