I tried to have a Friday evening the way most singaporeans would have it: on the streets of Orchard Rd. I wish the experience turned out to be how it used to be when I was a teenager, window-shopping that made your heart flutter. But it might have been age had caught up. I found myself stopped slight of entering shops that day. Some displays and mannequins sent out a strong repulsion that pushed me away. I tried to convince myself then that it was probably because I didn’t exude an air of a big spender, but something else told me that it might have been the vibes from people who dress these mannequins frequently. They may be people who are Subconsciously rebelling against excellence or in other words, harboring a serious damnation for their work. Same might possibly be said for the merchandisers and purchasers who take responsibility for the other areas of the fashion retail work flow.
I remembered applying for a window display artist position with a degree in architecture from a local university and not surprisingly, I did not land the job. Thinking back, even if I did land the job, I couldn’t have done much good with the hormonal imbalance and emotional weaknesses I struggled with, flaws which no one who stood by me could recognise or care to rectify. But the situation when taken objectively, on a scale of 1 to 10, is that the chances of a fresh graduate landing the job is a good certain 1. There is too much at stake for retailers and the young are reputed to be fickle and too light heeled to stay long enough after the training is done for returns on cost of employment. This inadvertently hurts the vibrancy of our shopping streets as the young are actually the most creative and most well informed of the lot. 10 years down the road from the time I graduated, we are suffering from what you would say having an old empire ruling over a new economy. I am starting to think it might not be a bad idea for myself to try having sales people double up as display artists if I can have a shop in ritzy Paragon one day. Making them multi-task not only cuts down senseless chatter, but the opportunity for them to showcase talents can separate the weeds from the chaff and with so few jobs in view, it might not be a bad idea. On the job training may serve more productive than workfare and skills upgrading schemes. So rather than getting people trained to get a job, which are far and few these days, you get a job to get trained. In this way, employers get incentives, or a helping hand to keep out of the red, for staking in business that keeps the economy alive. This may actually make worthier faces smile and not giveaway these to employees who are at most working for self-gratification after being put at ease with food on the table. I am aware we already have schemes that encourage employers to send their employees for training but that is not very attractive in the company’s perspective because that will just erode product and service differentiation and it would be as good as getting your employees robotized, and possibly getting them to divulge valuable confidential business recipes, eroding the zest to continue upkeeping company corporate cultures.
I also think there is an urgent need to stop making incredible demands on art students to be admin clerks after graduation just because their individualistic streak is out of step with being on the same page as the rest of society. Reminded by someone last weekend, We have to constantly remember that the challenges we are facing from the emerging markets are real and the next generation will be pitting against a big population raised up in ways we are not too familiar with. One characteristic of this rising population is individualism, undeniable with the old child policy in effect.
We have been around the world and recognized. That makes us certainly capable of producing companies we can gladly call our own.
“Only for what the world needs” There is a great importance to constantly remember this while doing what we do everyday to keep moving. If the world feeds on beautiful things and women need to feel fab, look to where fab women do their shopping these days. A fashion deluge sans spending may do something to spark off something to reconnect brain neurons again and brighten up the streets. But like how anything needs to take effect, efforts need to be maintained without an end-date.