Established in early 2012 by co-founders Visa and Desmond, Statement aims to start conversations through the creation of fun tees and totes. These quirky, sometimes slightly cheeky slogans are inspired by Singlish and local icons that almost every Singaporean can relate to.
We decided to speak with the creative minds behind the brand to find out more.
“It was really Visa wanting some funny for himself,” they said in response to the question of how Statement came about. The duo also shared their ideas on Facebook to find out if others would be interested.
“Knowing that other local T-shirt vendors existed made it easier to take the leap,” they recall.
Statement draws inspirations for its cheeky designs from several aspects of their personal lives. They adopt the analogy of a venn diagram – identifying interesting intersections between their “personal life experiences, interests, pop culture”.
Using their iconic Bak Kwa Pantone T-shirt as an example, they explained that Desmond has a design background and as such, was familiar with the Pantone chart. The brand was trying to create something with a Chinese New Year theme then.
“Bak Kwa is square, so why not a Bak Kwa Pantone T-shirt?”
A Challenging Game
We asked the duo to share the challenges and obstacles they faced while running the label. They seem pretty chill: “We joke that we are bochup founders who spend as little time on Statement as possible — but we’d actually really like to do more with it.”
For many partners, working together may be tough – there may be a need to sort out creative differences. However, this doesn’t seem to be a challenge for Statement.
“Creative differences are actually not a big deal — very often, if we have different ideas we can just try both.”
Instead, they find it refreshing to see what ideas the other party can bring to the table.
The team, however, shares that the main challenge is juggling between Statement’s operations and their own full-time day jobs. They stress that there are “no magic solutions”, citing time management and following up as important parts of the process.
Through their locally-inspired totes and tees, Statement wants their customers to be daring. “Dare to be subversive. Dare to play with boundaries” – is their advice, as they believe that interesting things can happen once you venture beyond the ordinary.
Making That Singaporean Statement
Each piece produced by the local label features a local twist – catch slightly provocative slogans printed on canvas tote bags, like “knncb” or “suspicious looking article”.
The duo shares that they continued to produce shirts with local slang due to positive customer feedback. “Initially, there were just a couple of Singlish T- shirt ideas, but they quickly became the best-sellers,” they recall.
The Statement team also shares their thoughts on the support for local brands in Singapore. According to them, the support for local brands is growing. “There’s a commoditization of Singlish and Singaporean identity happening,” says the team, adding that the market might be “getting a little oversaturated”.
We ask them to talk about some of their favourite pieces, which they mention are Live Laugh Lanjiao, Everybody Huat Ah and Ah Kong is Watching You.
Do these designs look familiar? It’s probably because you’ve seen them along construction sites, or at places with CCTV surveillance. Statement’s punchy tag lines and familiar signs make their label unique yet relatable, and it’s no wonder why these pieces emerged as bestsellers.
The duo add that crowd favourites “are definitely HUAT and Lepak Pte Ltd,” while Statement’s Kan Cheong Spider tee “gets a special mention for the T-shirt we’re most often contacted about for urgent, express delivery.”
Coincidence? We think not.
The Huat tee, pictured above, appears to pay homage to international streetwear label, Supreme. This version, however, is friendlier on the wallet with a playful slogan.
Wise Words For Endeavouring Entrepreneurs
Creating witty, conversation-starting apparel while juggling their full-time careers is surely no easy feat. We got them to share some advice they have for aspiring entrepreneurs.
“The hardest part about entrepreneurship is managing your own psychology.”
Visa and Desmond stress that aspiring business owners should look for partners they share common values with, while being very mindful of cashflow. They add that listening is of paramount importance: “listen to your customers… talk to actual entrepreneurs and ask them about their challenges and struggles, what mistakes they made.”
Check them out here.