I have to admit that this profile interview is way overdue, because Nicholas Ng is a prime example of the guys His Style Diary was created for – someone who lives and breathes style 24/7. Even more commendably, he is also one of my best friends. Even though I like to call him a ‘kampong boy’ in jest, Nicholas really is a streetwise and well-travelled individual. A native Malaysian, Nicholas lived much of his younger days in big Asian cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Taipei. For the moment, he has chosen to settle in Singapore, where he works as an advertising director for some fashion lifestyle magazines.
Working in a country not particularly plugged into the fashion world, Nicholas’s love and knowledge about all things sartorial is truly unmatched. I’d wager he’s better informed about the latest trends than the fashion stylist at his office. Even though he owns a super stylish wardrobe that draws the envy of his colleagues, Nicholas isn’t your typical self(ie)-absorbed fashion victim. Sure, he gets inspired looking through famous street-style blogs like The Sartorialist and TommyTon.com. But more than simply clothes, he loves to study how everyday people make style a part of their lives.
In 2010, Nicholas picked up the camera and started his own street style blog, Garbagelapsap.com. Although a self-taught photographer, his sharp eye for details and growing catalog of insightful photos from around the world were soon endorsed by The New Yorker, who listed his website as one of the 14 international street style blogs to check out. In 2013, New York-based fashion site Style Caster included Garbagelapsap in its “25 Inspiring Sites To Bookmark Now” listing it alongside The Sartorialist and Facehunter. Recognising his skill, GQ, Esquire, and ELLE have all hired Nicholas to cover street style at fashion weeks in Tokyo, Seoul, and Bangkok. More recently, he also started collaborating with brands like Tod’s and Saint Laurent on special photography projects.
I caught up recently with Nicholas, who just returned to the island from a photography trip in Shanghai. Here’s his take on the current state of street style, and some of the things that inspire his personal style.
HSD: You’ve covered street style in many Asian cities. Which is your favourite – and least favourite – to shoot?
Nicholas: My favourite city has to be Tokyo. There are so many different kinds of fashion in Tokyo. Not to mention street style culture really originated from Japan long before the Internet and street style blogs even existed. I don’t have a least favourite city because every city has its unique street culture. I love to study how people dress in each place I visit.
HSD: The Men’s Fashion Week season just ended in Europe. What did you think about the street style coverage?
Nicholas: You can see photographers like Tommy Ton and Adam shooting many more Asian faces. I’ve always thought Asians have a great sense of style too, and deserve more attention!
HSD: What do you look out for when you’re out taking photos on the street?
Nicholas: I like to photograph people with a great sense of personal style. These people don’t pick up complete looks from the runway or from a brand catalog and wear it all. They put different pieces together and it works in such a unique way that you can’t imagine someone else wearing what they wear. That’s personal style at its best.
HSD: You’ve now done a few projects with brands like Tod’s and Saint Laurent. What’s it like? Any more to come?
Nicholas: It’s definitely an honour to get to work with brands like that. I learned a lot from the team and the brands. I am blessed to have an opportunity like that. In the near future, I’ll be collaborating with a couple of more brands for some exciting shoots! Personally, I also wish to venture into new cities that I’ve never been before, like Beijing or Sydney.
HSD: Sum up your personal style in one sentence.
Nicholas: Simple monotones with a mix of the street and the sartorial.
HSD: What are 3 brands you absolutely love at the moment?
I love Saint Laurent, Raf Simons and Dior Homme – no particular reason, except that their designs fit my personal style perfectly. I can be quite the minimalist but sometimes I love a bit of print too.
HSD: What are your fashion essentials?
Nicholas: Jackets. I admit I am crazy about them. Especially leather jackets. They’re great for layering and creating new looks. Also, I love street sneakers, loafers, suede slippers – or really, just shoes in general.
HSD: Even though you’re based in hot and humid Singapore?
Nicholas: Well, there are many jackets out there made with lighter, thinner materials such as linen, and they work well with our climate here. In fact, we spend most of our time in air-conditioned environments, don’t we? So why not make some effort and layer up a bit more?