Thursday, 17 April, 2014

Published December 21, 2013
Giving with style
Discerning and idiosyncratic on-trend folk can be tough to please at Christmas. Industry players share their strategies to wow even the most finicky fashion lover. By May Yip
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Frescobol Carioca beach bats (above), $289 each from Swagger. - PHOTO: SWAGGER

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Stan Lee

Owner of menswear boutique, Swagger

I ALWAYS plan ahead of time so that I can make a list and buy appropriate gifts that are both thoughtful and personal. With my busy schedule, I try to consolidate and get all my gifts from one or two of my favourite shops that have everything I need. It really is all about planning.

If you're shopping for a gentleman who appreciates quality and knows his own style, chances are he'll want a gift that focuses on craftsmanship and attention to detail. If he's more youthful and is just starting to discover the finer things in life, it's best to opt for gifts that are on-trend and cutting-edge, incorporating the modern classics with a contemporary edge.

I would suggest a fashion accessory that is functional and yet unique. There are plenty to choose from at Swagger, from fashion mainstays such as a pocket square or cufflinks to unique gift items such as leather bags or even a beach bat. Or if all else fails, a good coffee table book also makes a great gift, as long as the topic is relevant to the recipient.

When it comes to gifts I love to receive, personally, it would be rare vintage collectibles, particularly those from the Art Deco period. So an Art Deco fashion accessory or art piece would certainly make my Christmas! And please do not give someone who is into fashion a tacky Christmas jumper. Unless it's a joke or if he really needs it for a costume party!

Ann Kositchotitana

Owner of multi-label store Front Row, Korean fast fashion company Headline Seoul, and the APC and Flynow boutiques in Singapore

I TEND to buy more personal items that are in line with the recipient's lifestyle and taste. I don't like giving gifts that people will just chuck away. Rather, I buy something that they can use and appreciate whether at work or at home. Depending on how dedicated a fashionista your gift recipient may be, some are harder to shop for than others because they wear pieces only from certain brands, with price tags that may break the bank!

For Christmas, I would choose a fun, style-related gift that reflects their current interests. For example, while many fashionistas may not like to play actual sports, they are into the sports-themed trend right now, so I would get them something like one-size-fits-all accessories that have enough bling to fit in with the festive season. And do avoid presenting your favourite style-conscious pal any kind of fattening food, like log cakes or cookies. Honestly, many fashionistas will just say "thank you" and then pass it on. If you're truly stumped, a gift card from their favourite brand/store is perfect. I know, it's the lazy way out, but it works!

Personally, I just want some free time this Christmas. So a spa certificate would be lovely - it will force me to make the time to use it before it expires. "Me-time", that's what I would love to receive. And don't ever think of giving me fruitcake. I just hate the taste of it.

Johnny Manglani

President and CEO of luxury menswear company Uomo Group

GIFTING is a very personal matter and some thought has to be given to what the receiver will be able to use and appreciate. For me, it's not just a matter of making a tick on my list but actually putting some thought into what will make a good impression on the receiver. One thing to consider is whether you, yourself, would like to receive what you are giving to your friend, relative, colleague or loved one.

If yes, then go for it and if no, then it's best to avoid giving something that has little value to you. Some gifts can also be considered as bad luck or offensive in some cultures and so it's important to be sensitive to that as well.

My advice when it comes to shopping for a style-savvy guy would be to avoid any item with sizes and always choose a gift that can be used instantly, such as ties, cufflinks, scarves, wallets or fragrances. There are plenty of choices when it comes to fashion gifts. It's always good to give a gift that is attractively packaged. For example, while giving a tie, pick a tie and a pocket square set, as the recipient will use one or the other, or both of them together, all the time.

Big gift faux pas include generic items such as food baskets, diaries and calendars, or recycled gifts, which make the giver look inconsiderate. To avoid presenting a fashion-forward man a dated item, always opt for something in a classic style. Finally, any gift I feel has a personal touch to it and says, "I care for you," is a perfect gift in my book.

Jo Soh

Designer of womenswear brand, Hansel

I'M a list maker: I'll sit down, write a list of people to get presents for, then based on what I know about the person, list down a few things that I think they'd like to receive for Christmas. After that, unless I already know specifically what to get for someone, my eyes and ears are fine-tuned towards those items as I do a little research online or flip through magazines.

Then I'll try to keep to just one or two shopping expeditions to pick up everything (unless I can order the items online). Last but not least, I like to put effort into the gift-wrapping to make it look extra special. Shopping for a fashionista could be very straightforward if you know his/her style well, Or it could be a stab in the dark if you aren't really into fashion yourself and cannot articulate the recipient's style to the sales assistants.

If you aren't sure, gift vouchers are always a good treat so the person can pick out whatever he likes from the store, because sometimes it's hard to pick out clothes in the right style and/or right size to fit someone. I designed Hansel vouchers and the envelopes that they come in so that they don't look like your ordinary gift certificates, available from our store and online.

Alternatively, a unique and whimsical gift could fit the bill, such as the HDB Block enamel brooch that is from our current HDB-inspired Heartland collection. This brooch has been selling well to both men and women, and is probably the cheapest HDB in town!

Don't even think of re-gifting something that looks old and has been sitting in your storeroom for years. I've received something like this before and I can assure you that it's a Christmas spirit killer. This year, a sailing holiday from Santa to me would be awesome. In second place is a Kindle book reader.