Making Vintage Fun for All

Spurred by a passion for vintage apparel, Sai Fengjia (CS’16) set up Loop Garms last year with her business partner Isaac Ang, a former classmate from polytechnic.

-A A +A

Ever since their graduation from polytechnic, Sai Fengjia (CS’16) and Issac Ang knew that setting up a vintage clothing store was what they wanted to do. It all began from a trip to Japan in 2011, when they were awed by the scale of the country’s vintage clothing industry.

“We saw big shops like Kinji (a famous thrift store in Harajuku),” Sai said. “There were even rows of shops selling nothing but vintage clothes!”

“It all came from an offhand comment by Isaac,” Sai added. “He was like ‘Let’s do this at home’ and I rolled with it.” 

“I think we came in at a really good time and we were really true to what we wanted to be - which was to be welcoming and inclusive. And I think people resonated with all that.”

SAI FENGJIA (CS’16), CO-FOUNDER OF VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE LOOP GARMS

But their dream had to wait. Sai needed to complete her undergraduate studies at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information and Ang had to serve National Service. It wasn’t until seven years after the life-changing trip that the duo, both 27, opened Loop Garms  in February 2018.

Nestled in a quiet Housing Development Board estate on Veerasamy Road in Little India, Loop Garms sees a steady flow of customers of all ages on a daily basis. 

Loop Garm’s vintage clothes are mostly sourced from the U.S..The co-founders have friends based there who curate the items before mailing them over. Occasionally, they fly over to personally pick out the items. They also buy and trade with their customers to build up Loop Garms’ inventory.

Unlike other vintage stores, Loop Garms only operates offline, using social media - specifically Instagram - for advertising only. Despite only opening last February, Loop Garms has already racked up a following of close to 15,000 on Instagram today.

 

VIDEO: SHARLENE MARIA SANKARAN

 

Decked in an oversized dark green sweater and lego block earrings, Sai shared how her time at WKWSCI played a large part in teaching her how to effectively advertise the business and build strong relationships with her customers.

“What really made an impact were the advertising modules,” said Sai. “We had the chance to work with actual brands and clients, visited the agencies to see how they worked. That hands on experience and having that exposure helped.”

Sai also credits her Final Year Project campaign, Savvy Silvers, which provided senior citizens with smartphone lessons. Working with brands like Singtel and even Members of Parliament, she learnt how to liaise with people and negotiate mutual benefits for all parties involved.

Her FYP experience has also informed Loop Garms’ advertising strategy on Instagram, which emphasises on presenting vintage fashion as friendly instead of intimidating - the store eases its customers into the world of vintage and builds friendships with them.

 

Sai not only models for the store’s clothes, but also explains how to put the looks she creates together for her followers to try out. PHOTO: @loopgarms

 

Posting different looks of their pieces on their Instagram Stories began when Sai and Ang decked out themselves in Loop Garms’ vintage pieces. In these Instagram Stories, the duo walk their followers through the conundrum of mixing and matching clothing and accessories to create stylish looks.

 

Newly-acquired vintage pieces are introduced with design trivia in Instagram Stories. PHOTO: @loopgarms

 

Instagram is also the hub for Sai and Ang to showcase the current pieces that Loop Garms carries in its inventory. Occasionally, they also share trivia on each piece’s design on their Instagram Stories.

Sai also uses Instagram as her main point of contact with Loop Garms’ customer base. She can often be spotted scrolling through a long list of chats on Loop Garms’ direct messages and replying to all new messages.

“A lot of people always ask us, ‘You’ve got almost 15k followers on Instagram. How do you do it?’ Honestly, I don’t know,” she said. “I think we came in at a really good time and we were really true to what we wanted to be - which was to be welcoming and inclusive. And I think people resonated with all that.”

“We know that other Instagram sellers market their products as ‘vintage is cool, yeah’. But we’re never like that, cause we know some people feel intimidated when they see that.”

Loop Garms’ devotion to customer service doesn’t end at Instagram. Sai applies the motto of being “welcoming and inclusive” for in-store interactions with customers. 

Conversations begin with standard pleasantries like ‘How’s your day?’ and ‘Have you had lunch?’, with some of the younger customers taking a step further by opening up and sharing their personal issues with Sai and Ang. 

“We found ourselves in the position as adults,” Sai said. 

“We’re finding new family members. We don’t say we’re finding new staff. And you don’t find family members in just any Tom, Dick and Harry.”

SAI FENGJIA (CS’16), CO-FOUNDER OF VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE LOOP GARMS

Even the music that plays in-store is customer-oriented. It plays off a Spotify playlist named “loopytunes,” a collaborative effort between Loop Garms and its customers.

“This playlist is full of song recommendations from customers,” Sai said. “Any genre, any language, as long as you like it, we just put it inside. We have Swedish hip-hop, Chinese songs, Majulah Singapura, Billy Eilish, Travis Scott and Imagine Dragons.”

“I think ‘loopytunes’ is reflective of what we are as Loop Garms. We want to tell people that whatever it is that you like, you have the power to like it. Honestly, if you like K-Pop, please, go ahead!”

So what does Sai plan for the future of Loop Garms? While she prefers to focus on the present, her vision for Loop Garm's future is to create more content for the store and expand the team.

Semester: