Bright, vibrant, and feminine are the first few words that come to mind when we think of AURAHERA, the hot, young label that’s on the rise in Singapore’s fashion scene. Besides offering a tasteful selection of outfits, it’s also fair to say that the clothes served a purpose — they’re all designed with the intention of empowering women to embrace their femininity and inner strength. At just a year old, AURAHERA, headed by founder Jyane Quek, has had to navigate and adapt to the changes presented during the pandemic, while trying to forge a brand presence and build community. To add to that, Quek has also boldly opened up a brand new store at Millenia Walk in a difficult time like now, in hopes of elevating the AURAHERA shopping experience and providing better reach to her audience.
In our exclusive chat with Quek, we get to hear the story of how AURAHERA came to be and what the label’s about, plus her rationale of starting up a physical store despite looming pandemic woes as well as her upcoming plans for her brand.
What gave you the idea to launch AURAHERA?
I would say the birth of AURAHERA was powered by a cause that celebrates women and femininity. People don’t normally associate a feminine woman to have similar capabilities as a man. AURAHERA as a brand wants to challenge this perception, and recognise that every woman — by default — is a strong woman, so is a woman who dresses femininely. Every woman should also recognise themselves as the heroine of her own story. We must remind ourselves that we are already the person whom we aspire to be.
Singaporeans are strong and resilient but rarely do we talk about it, especially from an Asian cultural perspective where we are raised in an environment with strong modesty norms. The AURAHERA brand is all about celebrating inner strength as we recognise the strong woman in us, and the strong women around us through positive affirmation.
Why is it so important to embody the values of girl power in your clothing line?
AURAHERA as a brand is built on a cause. We are not just an ordinary fashion brand; we want to do more than fashion. We want to empowering women beyond offering feminine collections and styles; we want to lift ourselves up and help one another on our journey towards self-actualisation. As a brand in the new decade of 2020 launched during the Covid-19 pandemic, we want to have a purpose of deriving meaning from our day-to-day work as we connect, celebrate, and strive as a community of strong women.
How does the brand celebrate the strength and empower women across ages?
Through our ‘Stories’ where we feature the diamond strength and resilience of women from all walks of life on their journey towards self-actualisation, as well as our ‘Workshops’ where women from all walks of life get together and empower one another as a community.
Tell us the concept behind the Sisterhood collection.
The concept behind the Sisterhood collection centres around the community aspect of our brand because we’ve been inspired by how the close-knit support we share among women are similar to that of sisters. We get stronger together by getting to know more women from all walks of life, lifting ourselves up as we learn new things from one another.
Each style in the collection is designed in pairs, just like how you’d co-ordinate an outfit with a sister or a bestie or pick out a jumpsuit and dress for each other. The collection also focuses on our vibrant colour palette that resonates with our brand, combined with feminine details to bring out the subtlety of soft versus strong to celebrate the feminine strength.
What’s your design process like?
It all starts from thinking about how women want to feel, and how this relates to our brand philosophy. From there, we evaluate and think about what features, colours, elements, and fabric would lead to this feeling.
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You’re opened up your first-ever brick-and-mortar store on Aug 1. How is different from the stores that we have in the malls now?
It’s designed to sell an experience and a lifestyle as compared to just maximising store space for products to be displayed. Our store has Instagrammable features that are meant to drive engagement. It’s also a space that can be converted into a collaborative workshop room, as well as a modular display structure that caters to the different lifestyle brands who partner with us on a thematic basis.
As part of our store launch, our first feature focuses on the lifestyle needs of a modern woman, under the ‘Modern Women Brands Collective’ (#MWBrandsCollective) initiative. As a local brand in Singapore, we commit to lifting other homegrown brands up too by providing them an opportunity for a retail showcase. Through this initiative, we’d like to support and collaborate with other local online brands that launched during this unprecedented time.
Our store also keeps safety protocols in mind. The shop is spacious enough for customers to walk around while keeping a safe distance, and we have a permanent UV light fixture that’s an add-on to our daily sanitisation practice.
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Why did you want to open a retail store in the middle of a pandemic?
We have always wanted to start with a retail presence because we believe in experiential retail, and selling not just clothes but a lifestyle. It’s only through brick and mortar that we can bring our brand philosophy to life, especially if we want to create an optimal boutique space for cultivating a sense of community.
- We also wanted a safe space for women to get together and inspire one another through skills-building and story-telling. While creating this multi-purpose retail space, we realised that it didn’t have to fit 100 people; instead, we decided on something more intimate. We believe in fostering deep relationships and we want to drive a positive impact in every woman we interact with — in small groups of 10 because that’s what a safe space means.
With the pandemic, we delayed our plan to launch during the beginning of Phase 2 – but AURAHERA is here to stay. We believe strongly in our vision and we want to be here for the next 10 years. The pandemic is a long battle but it will pass, while experiential retail will always be here to stay. The importance of retail is often overlooked, but the circuit Breaker made us realised how much we longed to go out and hang out because human beings are social animals and are part of a collectivist culture.
What are some of the highlights and challenges you faced as an emerging label in Singapore?
Fashion is obviously a competitive space, and especially so when it’s launched during a pandemic. We struggle with customer acquisition as retail is now offering all kinds of discounts. While it’s hard for us as a young brand to establish a voice amid all the noise in the current climate, we are very encouraged by customers who support us and continue to come back. Therefore, we are glad to have depth although we haven’t fully established our breadth and scale in this challenging climate.
What are your plans for AURAHERA?
We will continue to stay true to our brand values. We will launch our Signature Collection, which is our custom print collection embodying our brand beliefs. We will also debut our Quintessential range, focusing on wardrobe staples made of eco-friendly, bamboo fabric because we recognise the importance of sustainability in the world of fashion.
We continue to welcome brands that want to collaborate with us as we all get stronger together during this challenging time.
Shop Jyane Queks’s Favourite Picks From Aurahera
Photos: Courtesy of AURAHERA
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