So tell us, what’s in Mean.XS’ closet?
My favorite designer clothes aren’t even in my two closets. Simply because I can’t fit any more clothes in it. I have a rack full of Raf Simons clothes alone and another rack for other designer clothes like Craig Green, CDG x Supreme, Loewe, and A-Cold-Wall, among others. That’s not even counting my massive sneaker collection – nine of which are Raf Simons.
How did this fascination for designer wear come about?
I’ve always been into clothes since I was a kid. I remember the fascination to dress up and look good on the daily. Maybe it had to do with the way my parents brought me up. When I was 15, I started to get into streetwear and the whole forum culture of sharing clothes and ‘fits online. I started out with obscure brands such as Henrik Vibskov and Cassette Playa, among others. And then I began buying fashion magazines, doing my own research and reading to learn more about designer wear and fashion.
Do you remember the first big-ticket item you copped?
Yeah, I remember. I was 18 years old then and I got my first Raf Simons t-shirt in Paris for S$300. I got it from a random shop called KTZ, which has grown into what we know now as the multi-brand retailer, Kokon To Zai. Before all that, they only had one store in London and another in Paris. Once I got that t-shirt, I immediately did research on Raf Simons and discovered that he majored in industrial design. At the time I was taking my diploma in industrial design too. That connection really started it all. I became a fan of his collection because I felt like I could understand what he was trying to say. I think that was an amazing discovery.
How significant was that first cop?
That was the entry point for me and my obsession with Raf Simons and designer wear. After the first t-shirt in Paris, I copped my second piece, which was a runway shirt, and then the technical pants, before I started buying pieces from all the other seasons. I also just kept researching and finding out more about the Antwerp Six, Martin Margiela and the fashion industry as a whole.
How often do you shop and what are your go-to places to shop?
It got to a point where it became really bad. I would buy designer clothes like once a week but now, probably just once a month I’ll go and get something I like. My haunt right now is DSM Singapore for sure. When I shop online, I’d say SSENSE and definitely Antonioli. Antonioli always releases the pre-order for Raf’s latest collections first. So I’m always camping out on the website to check the collection out. The styling on SSENSE is one of the best. They really make me want to buy something. But usually, any online e-tailer that has Raf Simons, I’ll be on there.
Besides Raf Simons, what other designer brands do you like?
One of them is Craig Green. I also like Loewe because I feel it’s very refreshing. When Jonathan Anderson came in as the creative director, it made the brand feel very fresh and young. It gave me the same feeling I had when I was 18 and got my first Raf piece. I first bought a Meccano pin from Loewe and then I started to get more things like the charm before copping the puzzle bag. I think I was the first guy to wear the bag too because it’s actually a women’s bag. But the cool thing is you can wear the bag five ways so it’s super dope. I like it when you can wear something in many different ways.
Do you mull things over before making a purchase?
I usually only buy what I like. I’m generally a passionate person. Once I get into something, I really go all the way. Usually, if I sense the passion in the design or the collections evoke a certain kind of emotion, it makes me want to buy it. Also, if it tells a story or a different point of view.
If you have to choose between your passion for music and designer fashion, which would it be?
I really can’t choose one over the other. They’re different sides of me that have now become one. It’s synonymous. If you see me and know me, you already know what I’m about. I’m The Dapper Rapper.
Speaking of that, how did the moniker – The Dapper Rapper – come about?
Actually, I didn’t come up with that myself. Hidzir, the former editor at Bandwagon, did an entire page feature on my album and coined the term “The Dapper Rapper”. I immediately resonated with it. It was apt and a reflection of me. From there, I realize that I don’t have to separate my interests for fashion and music. I don’t have to change myself just to fit into anyone else’s perspectives. Because that’s who I am – Mean.XS, The Dapper Rapper. People tend to judge from the surface, just based on what they see. They think it’s a front or I’m trying to flex or show off but it’s not. It’s really my passion, and I love it so much that I want to share it with people that have the same passion as me.
Most people pick one addiction, but you collect sneakers, accessories, bags, clothes and most recently designer toys as well. Do you ever think that you should pick one?
It truly is an addiction. I really just buy what I like. I buy a lot of accessories because I feel like it elevates the look. You can wear something boring and simply put on a pin, a necklace or a bracelet and you’ll have your own personalized look. Collecting designer toys is something I just got into as recently as a few months ago actually, during the Culture Cartel convention. I grew up in and around streetwear culture so these street artists are well-known and I often see Kaws’ work in magazines, so he was always an influence. I still do have his clothes, bags and the OriginalFake stuff but I’ve still yet to own a Kaws figurine. I’m planning to. And if I do, I’m going to buy a whole bunch at once. But first I’ll have to clear my room (laughs).
Do you clear your old items before buying new stuff?
I do have impulse buys, but I only get something if I really want it. Most of the stuff that I really like are the ones I will probably never sell. Actually, I’ve never sold any of my things until recently, when I sold some sneakers. I had more than 50 pairs in my room and even after my “clear out” I still have about 40 to 45 pairs. I probably need to start clearing soon because at the rate I’m buying, there won’t be any more space. It’s actually a problem. I realize that. I might even consider renting out a warehouse just to store some of it.
Can you name us some of your grails?
My first would have to be the Spring/Summer 2008 Raf Simons Vandal High which actually looks like Nike’s Air Force 1 Vandal. I’d say all of Raf Simons’ 2008 collection that I have, the Raf Simons/Sterling Ruby bleach hand-spattered shirt, and the Craig Green Diamond-appliqué jacket with silver threads. May not be grails for others, but these are definitely my grails.
What do these grails mean to you?
Most of them have sentimental meaning or they reflect the season’s collection the best. I got the Craig Green jacket after a significant moment in my career. To put it simply, it was a big payday for me and buying that was a reward for my hard work. I guess I like to have something physical to look back on. But I didn’t purchase it until I saw the piece in person and realized that the threading for the panels was actually silver. As for the Raf Simons/Sterling Ruby shirt, it was special because it got me into Raf again and I own the most pieces from that season. Before that, I kind of stopped buying. So that spark made it pretty memorable.
Will this obsession for buying and collecting designer wear ever stop?
There’s no end game to this. It’s been 12 years since I first started and I still keep all the designer clothes I bought all these years. I will always have passion for what I like. There’s bound to be new collections and new things that will speak to me. I don’t think it’s something I can simply stop and move on from.
This interview has been edited and condensed.