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Photo: Ashley Mak

Rena Kok, a designer from Singapore, won the second runner-up in the Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award for her forward-looking ideas. Rena set her work apart by exploring augmented reality technology, working with an engineer to create digital prints that came alive on a screen. The rest of her collection was imbued with a similarly futuristic spirit, with techie fabrics and Space Age silhouettes taking centre stage. She further pushed the futurist agenda with details such as laser-cut perforations and oil-slick surfaces.

Here, we caught up with Rena to find out how things have been after the competition.

1) Tell us how you felt about being the second runner-up in the Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award? How has the experience been for you?

In all honesty, I was ambivalent about being the second runner-up. A part of me was disappointed – thoughts of “what if I had done this, what if I had improved on that?” kept clouding my mind. Another part of me knew that it’s something worth celebrating, for it’s my third attempt on joining the competition. I first heard about Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award when I was taking my diploma, and both my entries from that year (2017) and the subsequent one (2018) were rejected. Afterwhich, I committed myself to progress as far as possible the third time round – they say third time’s a charm. Thinking back, I did uphold the promise I made to myself, and that in itself is priceless. I’ve since conceded to both the failure of not clinching the winning position and the success of being recognised as one of the top three designers in a high-profile competition such as Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award. The experience I’ve had with the BAZAAR team goes back to when I first submitted my entry in diploma. To be mentored by and to work with so many industry experts is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often. It’s given me more than I could ever ask for and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

Related article: All The Stylish Guests At The BAZAAR NewGen Fashion Awards Show 2019

2) Has your life changed in any way after taking part in the Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award? How has it changed?

While it didn’t have a direct impact on my life, the ripple effects were profound. I get acknowledged for the work I do, and more people are reaching out to work with me. I would say that Harper’s BAZAAR opened one of the crucial doors for me, which has led to more doors being opened subsequently.

3) Can you share what are some of your plans for 2020?

I’ll be fulfilling the scholarship opportunity at Istituto Marangoni, either in Fashion Styling or Graphic Design. Also, I’m actively exploring positions in the industry while working on an upcycling project and running my Renakok collection on the side.

4) We are gearing up for the Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2020. What advice would you give participants?

Do not be afraid to come up with more pieces if you have the capacity to because the complexity of the looks gets diminished once they hit the runway. Invest an adequate amount of time into the collection. It is a race – so take initiative rather than waiting for the mentors to badger you for updates.

Related article: Fashion Forces: The BAZAAR Asia NewGen 2019 Finalists Take Modern Design To New Heights

5) What’s your hope for Asian/South-east Asian fashion in the future?

There are countless challenges for small-scale designers such as myself and I just hope that people would shop more responsibly and appreciate our craft.

Related article: NewGen 2020: You Could Be The Next Big Fashion Designer

Think you could be the next big fashion designer? Take part in Harper’s BAZAAR Asia NewGen Fashion Award 2020!

For details on competition process and full terms & conditions, please refer to the application form found here.

For further enquiries about the competition, please email: bazaarprojects@sph.com.sg