Thin Skin To Thick Skin

In a history-making Oscars night moment, Will Smith went from won’t take it to won’t budge

As it turned out, Will Smith was asked to leave the Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre after slapping Chris Rock. But he was adamant about staying put. According to the latest statement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that was reported by the press, “Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused”. It is not certain if it was a request or a demand. Or why Mr Smith was allowed to deny either. The Academy added that they “could have handled the situation differently”. How so, they did not say. But they did concede that “Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television”. That it was unacceptable was not mentioned. But in a letter addressed to its members, as report by Variety, the Academy’s president and CEO, David Rubin and Dawn Hudson respectively, wrote, “To be clear, we condemn Mr. Smith’s actions that transpired Sunday night.”

Will Smith’s refusal to leave allowed him to bask in the standing ovation when he went to receive his Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In fact, he took to the stage twice. The first, prematurely, to strike Chris Rock. And the second, triumphantly, to be the fifth Black actor to win the award, for the first time. It is possible that Mr Smith declined to submit to the Academy’s toothless punitive action then because he was confident he would win. The 94th Academy Awards was the “most diverse” presentation, produced by an “all-Black” team (or “mostly black”, depending on which news service you subscribe to). They had to give it to him. Denzel Washington, the other Black nominee already won one Oscar. It was Will Smith’s turn—the actor was probably convinced. He was not ready for a win in absentia.

And his insistence paid off. What was truly amazing to us was that Mr Smith was first a thin-skinned husband when it came to an unfunny joke about his wife, but quickly became a thick-skinned star, certain that he would be bestowed Hollywood’s highest accolade, even when his presence was not desired in the theatre. The witnessed aggressor seemingly accorded impunity. Sure, the Academy later said they would investigate and Mr Smith has issued, via social media, an apology to Mr Rock (so did the Academy. Every presenter, without doubt, deserves a safe space on stage), but that Slap is unfortunately an affront to decency and humanity. And the world saw it. And the Internet has it secured deep in its bowels, waiting to cough it out by the stroke of a search entry. To forget it would be hard, very hard.

Update (31 March 2022, 9.30pm): Who is right? According to TMZ, who spoke to “sources with direct knowledge who were present”, Will Smith was not asked to leave the scene of the Slap. Apparently, “Academy officials were backstage with Will’s reps and there were heated conversations about what had gone down.” No consensus was reached as those officials were split in what was the right thing to do. Oscars producer Will Packer apparently told Mr Smith that “he could stay”. And the actor did

Illustration: Just So

An Angry World

What do the Oscars 2022 show in LA and the launch of the Swatch X Omega Bioceramic MoonSwatch here have in common? Unbridled rage

By Shikong Wuzhu

People get mad easily these days. And in the past weekend, I saw two examples of this anger that was hard to process. One became an open-palm smack “heard around the world”; the other, a dare—to get the police to shoot in the middle of a riled up crowd. People do get angry, of course, but to the point of expressing that ire so harshly, and violently? Blame it on the pandemic (right?), as many do. People are just fed-up and at the slightest provocation, become a ticking bomb (admittedly, a bad rhetoric, considering who the angriest man is right now! That initiator of open conflict). From bilious online social discourse (Twitter is a difficult—even unbearable—place to be when controversies break out) to hawker-centre quarrels, even between old men. The display of rage won’t let up.

Will Smith, as you know by now, showed his temper at the 94th Academy Awards. At that moment on stage, watched by millions worldwide, he, too, billed Hollywood as the ’hood. Could this be the equivalent of a drive-by shooting, although not premeditated, and in a swankier setting? Black presence must be palpable in today’s American culture and on stage. Take-things-into-your-own-hand impulse too. At the Dolby Theatre on Sunday night (or Monday morning, our time), restraint did not accompany Mr Smith into the auditorium; recklessness, selfishness, aggressiveness—all of them did, and they were applauded. I still can’t make out what the takeaway was when a man received a standing ovation shortly after he clearly assaulted another.

The Slap. Photo: Reuters/The Washington Post

It was, and still is, hard for many people to call the violence just that. Many tried to come up with all sorts of excuse for him, including the good ’ol standby, impaired mental state. Or, the lame “he was beside himself”. No one would plainly say he blew up. It is hard to consider the Men in Black actor wrong because, as one editorial in The Guardian suggested, the “white outrage about Will Smith’s slap is rooted in anti-Blackness”. If condemning violence is “anti-Blackness”, is the believer of that equation admitting that violence is part of Blackness? I am not white. Does that make my disapproval of the Slap stinkingly “rooted in anti-Blackness” too, like those angmos’, except the ones who stood up to clap? I would have denounce the smack if it was given by one White guy to another. Would that make my Asian outrage rooted in anti-Whiteness? More so since they were once colonisers?

There was also the enthusiastic lauding of him protecting his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. Sure, a husband does that, but it’s disturbing to think that it’s alright for him to hit a man to “defend her honour”, as supporters of the Smiths have said. Was this in America or Pakistan? “I wish I had a man protecting me like that,” said actress Tiffany Haddish to the media after the show. Also outside the Dolby Theatre, transgender star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez opined, “When you speak about somebody’s wife, you can’t really help that.” Unable to act differently then? Really? Or, has slapping these days become the cruel kindness to right wrongs, to express social justice, to protect loved ones?” Some Netizens wondered what Mr Smith was teaching kids with his school-yard action. Perhaps that was precisely what he wanted his own children to learn. As his son, fashion darling Jaden Smith, later wrote on Twitter, “And that’s how we do it”.

The Challenge: man, with mask down, dared the police to shoot him. Screen grab: TikTok

Anger percolated here too, just a day before the Will Smith rage. At the now-infamous launch of the Swatch X Omega Bioceramic MoonSwatch at ION Orchard (and just the same everywhere in the world), a man, so incensed by purportedly being separated from his friends when the police came to restore order in the increasingly overcrowded space, he dared the men in blue to shoot him. Like so many of you, I saw that TikTok video. The outburst was so outrageous that, after hearing of it, law and home affairs minister K Shanmugam posted on Facebook, “It’s not life and death.” Mr Shanmugam was not wrong, but there was no life or death in that episode, just a want. And what the guy wanted was an affordable watch that is modelled after one that is not. And he has to get it. The police be damned.

Some Netizens sympathised with the fellow as he was upset because he was kept apart from his chums. Or, as the man said, they were “cut out”. So if you and your pals were, for some reason (packed platform, for example?), separated by closing MRT train doors, do you kick the doors down? Or jump onto the track and challenge the driver (assuming, the trains were still manned) to run you over? Fashion has become so democratised and so sharply priced that everyone wants a piece of it, no matter what, no matter if tempers need to flare. I don’t know. Are we really so easily provoked these days? Have we become so emotionally fragile that we can just hit someone for offense taken and indignation felt? And fume at the police for doing their job? Is it only through anger that we can get even or what we desperately want? Anger begets anger, and the world will only get angrier.

Illustration: Just So

Not Freedom Day, Yet

Those who were out and about without a mask were rather jubilant as whole faces got to bask in the sun. Surprisingly, there were not that many of them

By Mao Shan Wang

Today is a triumph for the “Badge Lady”. And her ilk. I can imagine her walking anywhere on Orchard Road or any open space without a mask and not be interrupted by un-badged individuals coming up to her to insist she wears one. Or social media stars hoping to score an interview to bank on her offline infamy to strengthen their online fame. Mandatory restrictions have finally met Badge Lady’s tenacity—admirable and reviled in equal measure. Although this day makes no real difference for those who persisted in taking an anti-mask stance, it is still a win for the likes of the recalcitrant Ms Show Me Your Badge. She can now be outdoors with her whole face for all to see and for breezes to kiss. Many, like her, can now walk on footpaths or void decks without the hated mask, and be free from the gaze of disapproving eyes.

Despite the relaxing of mask wearing for most outdoor spaces beginning today, not that many people have done away with covering up. This surprised me as I had thought that many had been waiting for this day to arrive. In fact, just after the news of this “significant easing” broke last Thursday, I encountered not an insignificant number of individuals bringing forward this day. Over the past weekend, pedestrians on a busy footpath near my flat were testing how far they could rid the mask ahead of time. Never mind if it was in broad daylight or under the cloak of darkness—they tried and got away with it. On Sunday morning, I overheard a wife telling her husband off when she was told to put her mask on: “Aiya, two more days. Now and Tuesday, what’s the difference?”

So I was really surprised by the humanity that embraced the outdoor today. Rather than the many full faces I had expected to beam at me, I witnessed mostly masked-up glum. At Raffles Place, the lunch crowd kept their masks on in unexpectedly large numbers. Perhaps it was because they were lunching in groups (in sixes, I kept seeing). Those who bared their faces were taking a cigarette break, expectedly next to dustbins. And those who truly delighted in taking on the world with no facial cover in sight—and talking audibly so I’d know of their glee—seemed to be mostly expatriate Caucasians. They were truly visible, enjoying the sun, coffee, and each other. Perhaps they were fast to act because this was the closest to getting back their civil liberties and personal freedom, without which life is hell even when a deadly virus is bent on spreading, and infecting.

I decided to take a train to Orchard Road. It was busier there than I expected. Then the sky darkened very suddenly—like Will Smith’s face yesterday—and, in an instant, it started to be very wet—like Will Smith’s face yesterday too, and the pedestrians disappeared. Someone up there clearly wanted to put the damper on the anti-maskers’ celebration outside. In case the excited people wanted to burn masks? I walked to the Orchard Road-facing entrance of Wisma Atria. It was quiet here. Instinctively, I moved to Ngee Ann City. The few people who chose to stay out of the rain, but were still outdoor, did not take advantage of the “relaxed restrictions”, as the easing has been called, oxymoronic as it sounds. I crossed over to Tangs. Outside was like inside—all wore a mask. In the thirty minutes that I stood where Tiong Bahru Bakery is, I saw just a middle-aged woman with mask off. That was one in, like, one hundred pedestrians! If you missed seeing joyful faces, you would still miss them.

Away from the four walls of home, I did not feel “a different vibe”, to borrow the phrase from one of this year’s hosts of the Oscars, Amy Schumer. It did not seem like the mask-off permission had kicked in. It was not that there were few takers; it was just not different from yesterday, the day before, or last week, even last month. While waiting for the rain to stop (and hoping to see more unobscured faces), I struck up a conversation with a mask-less chap who, too was waiting for the sky to clear. He was playing a game on his phone. When he caught sight of me looking, I asked, “is it nice to be with no mask?” He was annoyed with my question. “Don’t wear oso kena, what for wear?” I was not sure I was ready to countenance the displeasure. Or, his respiratory droplets landing on me as he huffed. Or someone else’s when they vociferate or when they cough. As my friends always say, I am prone to attracting those who love to express or expel.

That’s why I have chosen to keep my mask on. I didn’t come this far—more than two years—of carefully avoiding potentially dangerous situations so that I can stay healthy and safe to welcome the coronavirus into my body, even if it is supposed to cause only “mild” symptoms. Mild may not necessarily be pleasant for me. And I do not wish to find out if that would be true. Pre-COVID, I don’t even want to get the flu, so why would I hail the virus du jour. It does bother me, therefore, that social distancing in some settings are no longer necessary. Not going too close to anyone you do not need to be physical with is not only respecting the personal space of others, but also minimising the possibility of exposing yourself to forgotten contagion still present, such as tuberculosis. I am not being dramatic; I am being careful.

What turned out to be rather antithetical was that I saw more people without mask indoor than out. At one mall, a girl and a guy were allowed in even when their masks were chin cups. I politely asked the girl seated at a desk, manning the entrance: “Oh, they can go in?” She looked at me sleepily. “Their masks were not worn properly,” I explained. She turned to look at the couple’s fast disappearing backs and then mumbled to me, “Is it?” Inside, I quickly met bubble tea drinkers happily imbibing as they walked, even when the cups in their hands were empty. Curry puff addicts devoured there favourite snacks and talked excitedly at the same time, from point to point to point. As I went down an escalator, a man riding up opposite opened his mouth wide and inserted thumb and index finger to free whatever was trapped inside. Bad weather, you think?

It did not look like I was able to meet the crowd of open faces that I thought I would. Masks, it seemed, stayed committed to noses and mouths. Did the Prime Minister’s wish come true when he said during his address to the nation last week, “Let us all continue to exercise personal and social responsibility”? Or, did that many really heed his call? I was beginning to feel good about the future when I entered the Orchard Road MRT station to take the train home, a sense of certainty washed over me. The wearing of masks could be part of the return to normalcy! While waiting on the packed platform, flanked by commuters laden with shopping bags, an announcement came clearly through the PA: “Attention, passengers on the platform. Please put on your mask properly. Thank you.”

Photos: Chin Boh Kay and AB Tan

Oscars 2022: Many Forgettable Dresses, One Memorable Moment

Gowns failed to impress after Will Smith seemingly pulled off a slap-first version of Kanye West at the 2009 VMAs

Will Smith took to the stage to slap Chris Rock for joking about wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. Screen grab: YouTube

Warning: this post contains language that some readers may find objectionable

“Love will make you do crazy things,” said Will Smith in his acceptance speech for the Best Actor award. And crazy it was when the King Richard lead earlier slapped Chris Rock on stage after Jada Pickett-Smith was teased by the comedian. Mr Rock had jabbed at her by comparing her to G.I. Jane, the eponym in the 1997 Ridley Scott film in which Demi Moore plays the soldier-character with a shaved head. “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Mr Rock teased. Ms Pickett-Smith’s barely discernible hair is the result of alopecia, an autoimmune condition, where the body attacks the cells of hair follicles, causing hair loss. At first, Mr Smith seemed to be laughing, but then his wife, decked in a Glenn Martens for Jean Paul Gaultier Couture gown, showed she disapproved the joke by rolling her eyes. The camera returned to Mr Rock and the next thing we saw was the actor marching up the stage and quickly smacking the presenter. It did not look scripted. Immediately, social media went berserk! “What just happened?” became the question of the hour.

But the on-stage slap was not enough. After swaggering back to his seat, Mr Smith shouted, “keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” Twice! (The telecast on channel 5 this morning was not censored.) The Academy Awards have its fair share of distasteful jokes, and nominated actors—and their companions—have always been free for all who host (should Jesse Plemmons have lunged at Amy Schumer for calling his wife Kirsten Dunst a “seat filler” and getting her to vacate her chair?). But is a bad gag good reason to attack the joker? At the risk of pointing to the unmentionable “angry Black man”, this was not the first time a Black ‘bro’ took to the stage to express deep unhappiness. Back in the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), Kanye West leapt on stage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance of the Best Female Video award and said, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!” Notice the repeat. Only now, Mr Smith had not confronted a White woman or a White man. He laid his hand on a Black guy, which could be “settled”, just as P Diddy said, when he appeared after Mr Rock: “Will and Chris, we’re gonna solve that like family…” On their official Twitter account, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posted: “The Academy does not condone violence of any form.” And quickly re-focused on the aim of the show: “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”

Will Smith, in Dolce & Gabbana and wife Jada Pinkett-Smith in Glenn Martens for Jean Paul Gaultier Couture gown. Photo WireImage

After the manly outburst, the show moved into surreal territory. While a (mere) heckler would likely be shown the door, Will Smith was allowed to stay and watch the show, and laugh, and go back up the same stage to receive the award for Best Actor, his first. He was met with a standing ovation (Prada-clad Lupita Nyong’o, who sat behind him and was at first shocked by the latter’s open-hand action, stood up to applaud excitedly)! Tearing (or acting?), he said sorry to practically everyone except the guy he smacked. “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people… Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father…” While he was crying, social media was calling out the slap for a joke as reactive and excessive. And, what if he didn’t win?! This was, however, not the first time Chris Rock targeted Jada Pinkett-Smith. During the 2016 presentation, he joked about her boycotting the award show due to what she saw as lack of diversity. “Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars?” he joked, “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!”. But the current “attack”, some also said, “was low”. Very quickly, #UgliestOscarsMoment_Ever was trending.

Earlier, on the red carpet, the media described the Smiths to have had “wow(ed) the red carpet”—he in a fussy black three-piece suit (and a tie!) by Dolce & Gabbana and she in a green Glenn Martens for Jean Paul Gaultier Couture gown with a ponderous-looking train. Their comeliness gave no clue that something a lot less attractive would take place soon. But, the red carpet this year did seem like a foretaste of the lacklustre proceedings of a tightly-edited show, up to the slap. The looks easily fell into twos: conservative or sexy, pink or green, easy or trying. Those who opted for a more ‘conventional’, symmetrical choice brought back chic based on a definition we thought was lost. Those who took their style cues from Saweetie looked as slutty. Chloe Bailey’s LVDF dress (by the LA-based Austrian designer Lukas van der Fecht), for example, had a slit up her left leg that went straight to below her breast!

The Better Dressed

Clockwise from top left: Zoe Kravitz in Saint Laurent, Uma Thurman in Bottega Veneta, Cynthia Erivo in Louis Vuitton, Zendaya in Valentino, Timothée Chalamet in Louis Vuitton, Kodi Smit-McPhee in Bottega Veneta. Photos: Getty Images

The Worst Dressed

Clockwise from top left: Megan Thee Stallion in Gaurav Gupta, Penélope Cruz in Chanel, H.E.R. in Carolina Herrera, Kristen Stewart in Chanel, Maggie Gyllenhaal in Schiaparelli, Halle Bailey in Roberto Cavalli. Photos: Getty Images

In the camp of the better-dressed, there was a nod to a specific past: the shirt and skirt ensemble not normally associated with the Oscars red carpet, except for Sharon Stone’s Gap and Vera Wang respectively in 1998. Uma Thurman wore a nicely loose white shirt with a barely flared black skirt, both by Bottega Veneta. The slickest look of the night seemingly channeled her 1994 Pulp Fiction character Mia Wallace. Zendaya, who has embraced this red carpet season in more avant-garde looks, such as those by Rick Owens and Loewe, has opted, just like Ms Thurman, for a shirt (and sparkly and impeccably fitted skirt with a train), only hers was cropped and came with curved shirttails. Such simplicity finally negates the outdated belief that princess dresses stand out more on the red carpet and augment the wearer’s femininity. But, perhaps more memorable would be Timothée Chalamet, who, quite the opposite, went shirtless under his Louis Vuitton cropped tuxedo jacket—not from anything by the late Virgil Abloh, but by Nicolas Ghesquière for the women’s collection!

Those who tried harder just appeared to have, perhaps as evidence that they did experience the Oscars ritual of getting dolled/tarted up. This was, after all, the first mask-free Oscars since the start of the pandemic. Megan Thee Stallion, rather new to the show, looked like she fell into a craft class teaching the making of fabric flowers. Penélope Cruz, no newbie, was dressed by Chanel to look like a woman who went back to high school to be a belated prom queen. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who normally looks pleasing if not smashing, appeared to have worn a chest of drawers, or were the drawer knobs on the Schiaparelli dress unnecessarily evocative of furniture? And then Kristen Stewart appeared in something that could have come from that chest: shorts! Lady Gaga, expected to turn up in a showstopper of a gown, did not walk on the red carpet at all. When she emerged on stage (with Lisa Minnelli in a wheelchair), she was not stealing any scene, at least not in a curiously dated look of a shinny tux by Ralph Lauren. Without a nomination, did the house of Gucci abandon her? Next year, we probably won’t remember her tuxedo, but we would recall those worn by the two guys’, who let this troubled world be distracted from war and pandemic with the Oscars’ first on-stage, man-to-man slap.

Note: Mediacorp censored the expletive in the repeat telecast of the show this evening

Update (28 March 2022, 11pm): The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a statement: “The academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law.” Earlier , it was reported that Chris Rock would not be filing charges

Update (29 March 2022, 9.30am): Twenty four hours after The Slap, Will Smith posted an apology on Instagram, saying, “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be”

“It’s Madness”: Swatch Hits The Jackpot

The response to the launch of the MoonSwatch is even better than McDonald’s Happy Meal giveaways. Reports emerged that it’s the same throughout much of Asia

Swatch at ION Orchard this morning. Photo: Singapore Atrium Sale

The crowd at the opening of Uniqlo in Ang Mo Kio yesterday was nothing, “insane” as it might have been. This morning, at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and ION Orchard, you’d think that mask-off Tuesday had arrived, rather than the launch of a mere timepiece: the Swatch X Omega Speedmaster MoonSwatch. A friend of SOTD’s texted us at 9.30 this morning, saying: “It’s madness; it’s like they’re giving the watch for free. Don’t come.” He was at ION Orchard—“I know they say that with mask on, no social distancing is required, but jostling?” His frustration is understandable, just as the response to the launch of the MoonSwatch is expected. Yesterday, at the Swatch store in Orchard Central, we were advised by the friendly staff not to join the “crush”. One of them told us to “wait for the restock”. And why not? Swatch has never touted the MoonSwatch as a limited release.

The thing is, who’d believe this—an explodable throng outside Swatch? This was not the first drop of some Yeezy sneaks. It made the manic scramble last December outside the Foot Locker at Orchard Gateway look like nothing. At ION Orchard this morning, tempers flared quickly and things became so bad that the easily-angered even challenged security personnel to do the unthinkable. One video starting circulating online during lunch time. An antagonised fellow shouted at uniformed officers as if he was denied entry into his favourite KTV bar. With his face mask down to his lips, he challenged them in Mandarin: “你拿枪射击我啦 (Take your gun and shoot me, lah)”. Someone was heard responding: “This one three hundred dollar (sic) only, leh”. Many took to social media to lament how poorly Swatch ran the event, with scant crowd management procedures in sight.

In Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo: Tokyo Touch

In Taipei’s 101. Photo: Watchbus

Queuing in the rain in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Photo: Frankie Herrera

But it was not just on our island that the Swatch stores were ”overwhelmed”, as one marketing executive told us, pointing to how the staff at the stores could not manage the “determined” shoppers. Reports started to appear on social media after noon of the crowds that swarmed Swatch outlets in the capital cities around us. Our contact in Japan was the first to tell us that what he saw outside the Shibuya store was “discouraging”. In Bangkok, we were informed, Swatch “cancelled” the launch as the crowds at all three of their launch sites were “overcrowded” and “baa (crazy)”. A friend from Macau, who took time off from his job at the front desk of a hotel, too, reported that there was “no way” he could cop the watch. In neighbouring Hong Kong, our contributor saw queues snaked round blocks in Causeway Bay, with those in line waiting in the rain. The police eventually dispersed the crowd and Swatch Hong Kong announced that “the launch will be on hold until further notice“, prompting Netizen to call the event a “disaster”. More stories shared on social media also expressed dismay and shock at the hordes and the lack of order in Taipei and Kuala Lumpur. Swatch really scored big this time.

The mad dash outside CentralWorld, Bangkok. Screen grab: Payu Nerngchamnong

Last-minute signs posted on the Swatch store in CentralWorld, announcing its closure. Photo: ttoeytraveller

Outside Kuala Lumpur’s Pavilion Mall. Last night! Photo: Shopping Mall Malaysia

Many were unhappy that the situation had “turned messy”. Despite being told that the watches (11 colours) are sold out, scores chose to hang around outside the two Swatch stores here, which prompted the retailer to announce via Facebook around noon that the MoonSwatch “is not limited edition, and more opportunities to purchase will be available in the coming weeks”’ It also urged “customers without queue numbers (to) please kindly refrain from visiting the store as we are temporarily out of stock”. Netizens started sharing that the sale of the MoonSwatch is not limited in quantity and would be available again. But that has not stopped those lucky enough to buy one (the initial limit of two per customer was amended to a single piece) to resell it on Carousell for a staggering S$4,888, in one offer. That is madness too.

That the response to this collaboration between two watch brands could be this frenzied and staggering is perhaps to be expected. While the tie-up was teased on social media for a week (including full-page ads in The New York Times telling readers that “It’s time to change your Swatch,” or “It’s time to change your Omega”), many did not know what it’ll turn out to be. Global curiosity raged. When images of the MoonSwatch were released two days before launch, the news spread more rapidly than any spacecraft heading for the stars. Swatch and Omega have, with one timepiece, debunked the believe that people do not wear wristwatches anymore. The MoonSwatch is one landing no one imagined.

Update (26 March 2022, 6pm): According to local media, Swatch Japan has “cancelled the release” of the MoonSwatch due to “shoppers flooding” designated stores in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Harajuku districts. It is not clear when the release would be reinstated

The Priscilla Shunmugam Surprise

A modern designing woman with unfashionable views?

Less than six hours after the news broke that Priscilla Shunmugam made some “offensive” remarks came the designer’s swift apology: She told Today that what she said during an Asian Civilisations Museum-faciliated discussion last September about fashion and identity was “clumsy, hurtful, and insensitive”. In that Zoom session of the series ACMtalks, she had said—in response to a question about her designs being more ethnically Chinese—“historically, and even today, Chinese women have progressed significantly faster and further, as compared to their Malay and Indian counterparts”. Part of a two-and-half minute clip that was shared on social media, the broad remark had many viewers saying that Ms Shunmugam’s view is “racist”. In her response to Today, she added, “I apologise unreservedly for the comments I made”.

That ACMtalks session, “Designing Singapore’s contemporary fashion identity”, organised in conjunction with the museum’s #SGFASHIONNOW exhibition, has been removed from ACM’s Facebook page following the uproar. But in the said clip still circulating, there were more questionable remarks. Ms Shunmugam, who was not wearing anything that could be identified as Chinese, said: “This is not a modern-day phenomenon; this is just something that has been the way it’s been since, I think, the ’60s. In fact, for example, Chinese women were the first Asian women to shake hands with men. So, culturally, it was acceptable for Chinese women to shake the hands of men long before it was acceptable for Indian and Malay women to do so.” Her comment, we noted, did not take into consideration the social customs women had to observe (and still do) and the religious constraints they experienced before, and now.

Priscilla Shunmugam on ACMtalks. Screen grab: kebaya.societe/Instagram

As a proponent of ethnically-flavoured clothes and textiles, and their amalgamation, Priscilla Shunmugam’s observations were startling. CNA called her “the designer who reinvented the cheongsam with her unique flair for mixing traditional Asian textiles with modernised silhouettes”, yet this “flair” was blind-stitched into her surprisingly narrow view of how women across ethnicities have indeed progressed in the choice of their clothes. Playing the anthropologist, Ms Shunmugam also went on to say that “Chinese women, for example, were culturally the first Asian women to adopt Western dressing”. It’s hard to digest that. Thai women, for example, were no laggards. Look at Queen Sirikit: In the era that Ms Shunmugam singled out—the ’60s, she wore Western fashion by a French house—Balmain couture, no less—with as much ease as traditional Thai dress, and her choices influenced generations of women, even the present.

At the beginning of the clip, the Malaysia-born designer revealed that she did some research into the “emancipation of Asian women” before she started her brand Ong Shunmugam (named after her mother’s and father’s surnames respectively). If she was equating the emancipation of women only with the adoption of Western fashion (“the dress or the mini-skirt”), then she was negating the reality that education opportunities and economic circumstances influenced women in the clothes they bought and wore. And, if local non-Chinese women were slow to adopt Western clothes, have they been left behind “Singapore’s contemporary fashion identity”? Wearers of baju kurong or the sari are somehow stuck in a distance, away from progress, or denied it? We viewed the clip a few times and it surprised us that Ms Shunmugam, a trained lawyer, who touts herself to be “a regular on the speaking and judging circuit in the Asian design community”, could put forth her argument so unpersuasively. We thought that only happens with her fashion design.

Illustration: Just So

Watch Brands Are Pairing Up Too

Swatch meets Omega. And a fresh take on the Speedmaster Moonwatch—the Bioceramic MoonSwatch. In a word: handsome

The buzziest collaboration this month is the tie-up of Swatch and Omega. This is—as far as we’re aware—the first high-low pairing between timepiece brands. We didn’t see that coming, but we are also not surprised. Swatch teaming up with Omega is rather like Gucci and Balenciaga coupling, in that both watch labels are stablemates under The Swatch Group. This is not, however, a Beams and Casio collab with very little tweaking of the later’s timepieces. This is far grander as it taps from Omega’s “legendary” Speedmaster Moonwatch, reimagined and cleverly called MoonSwatch. Not since the Big Bold, launched in 2019, has Swatch rolled out a looker of a timepiece this desirable.

It is not always easy to describe Swatch as desire-arousing. But this time, it is vastly differently. Three days ago, a friend of SOTD who does not wear or own a watch, excitedly sent us a photograph of the pink ‘Venus’ MoonSwatch and an accompanying two-word message, “Nice, right?” Swatch has created something covetable. And they achieved it with Omega. This is a pairing on rather equal footing: The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch’s recognisable form factor and Swatch’s original material, the Bioceramic—a “blend of two-thirds ceramic and one-third bio-sourced plastic” derived from castor oil. Classic and cute in a comely face. The result is a watch a young James Bond might wear if he is not so hooked on the Seamaster!

The Omega Speemaster Moonwatch was born in the same year of this nation: 1965. It was, however, first worn in space by Wally Schirra in 1962 during his Mercury Atlas 8 mission and was the first watch worn on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. It has since been on all manned US space flights and worn by American astronauts on the moon. The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, typically around S$8,000, has, as collectors like to say, impeccable ”pedigree”. And on the MoonSwatch, “the key Moonwatch design features are all there. The asymmetrical case, the famous tachymeter scale with dot over ninety and the distinctive Speedmaster subdials,” as Swatch promises.

Typical of Swatch, though, the “budget Speedmaster” has the pop sensibility that we have come to expect of the Swiss brand. The MoonSwatch comes in an impressive 11 colours (the black could really pass off as the Omega original!). Each is named after a planet and is accompanied by its own “mission”. And, like celestial bodies in the night sky, all hours, minutes, chronograph seconds hands and hour markers glow attractively in the dark. Despite its galactic appeal, Swatch modestly describes their iteration of the Omega signature, “a down to earth take on the watch that went to the moon”. Could we expect a humble Swatch X Breguet next?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Swatch X Omega Bioceramic MoonSwatch, SGD372, is available only at Swatch MBS and ION Orchard from tomorrow. Expect a long queue. As a staffer told us, “wait for the restock”. Photos: Swatch

Update (26 March 2022, 1.30pm): Swatch has just posted on Facebook, urging those without a queue number “to kindly refrain from visiting the MBS store” where the MoonSwatch is available, as they “are temporarily out of stock”. One Marcus Song shared on the Swatch page, “It was mayhem at your Ion boutique and it was not possible to find a proper queue, I totally gave up and left”

War Of What They Wear

Two neighbours go to battle: Both men share the same Slavic first name (spelled differently), but not the same war-time garb. One shows he has more—a lot more—money than the other. Hence, more power?

Two presidents: Volodymyr Zelensky (left) and Vladimir Putin (right). Photos: Reuters

Volodymyr versus Vladimir, less versus lux, pared versus plush. The contrast couldn’t be more obvious. During the present warring states in Eastern Europe, two presidents fight it out sartorially on television in vastly different garbs. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on one side, dressed to stand with his fellowmen in defending his country and Russian president Vladimir Putin togged to impress his citizens that he is the most powerful man in the land who is never wrong. Since the war, Mr Zelensky is often shown wearing a fitted T-shirt, even when appearing before world leaders (via video calls). Quite the opposite, Mr Putin has been seen in suit and tie, and in a recent appearance at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to garner support for his war against Ukraine, wore a US$14,000 (or about S$19,012) navy puffer that the Western press gleefully noted to be “25 times (or 31, depending on the state of the rouble) the nation’s average monthly wages”.

That Mr Putin would have expensive taste in clothes is not surprising. He has the means and the oligarchs amassed during is very long rule to support his clothing choice. Yet, the five-figure hooded outer he wore on stage does not look like some statement coat; it could have been picked from any homegrown store in Moscow, rather than from Loro Piana, the Italian textile manufacturer and clothier, originally from the northern Italian commune of Trivero (also the provenance of Ermenegildo Zegna). Loro Piano is known for their expensive cashmere and wool products. It is part of the LVMH empire (the company owns 80% of the brand). They have a few stores in Moscow, but as with all LVMH-owned businesses, are now closed (they are two stores on our island).

At Loro Piana, an unassuming wool coat would not sell for less than US$3,000. A puffer similar to Mr Putin’s listed on the brand’s American website for US$11,000, the Clement Bomber, is made of ‘The Gift of Kings’ wool, touted to be of fibres that are 12 microns in diameter (the common Merino wool is between 18 to 24 microns, cashmere between 14 to 17). A luxury outer has to sit atop a just-as-splendid sweater. Mr Putin paired his Loro Piano with a cashmere turtleneck from Kiton, also Italian, that is believed to cost US$3,000 (or about S$4,073). In pictures, he appeared to be wearing leather shoes. These could have been from his favourite English bootmaker John Lobb. If the Russian president wore a suit, as he has been for his TV appearances, he would have likely chosen the Italian label Brioni. And if we could see what was on his wrists, there is the possibility that he had on either the US$$60,000 Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar or the $500,000 A. Lange & Sohne Toubograph, both identified by Fortune to be among his stash of luxury watches he possesses.

Vladimir Putin in the Loro Piana puffer and Kiton sweater at a rally in Moscow on 18 March 2022. Photo: Getty Images

What Mr Putin wears is now of international interest not because of how good—or bad—he looks, but how not right. Russian observers are shocked with their leader’s blatant display of wealth. In times of austerity (not forgetting sanctions), heads of states tend not to boast sartorially, but Mr Putin, with billions in personal wealth, according to some reports (one estimate says US$200 billion!), isn’t one affected by the harsh economic realities affecting so many outside the Kremlin. The patriot does not have to make patriotic fashion choices.

Of that horizontally-quilted coat, the deputy chairman of Loro Piana, Pier Luigi told Italian newspaper la Repubblica that Putin’s choice of outerwear that day “creates some embarrassment from a human point of view”, in the wake of a petition asking the Italian house to denounce their famous war-bent customer. Karine Orlova, correspondent for Echo of Moscow radio, Tweeted: “Anyone who likes anything Western is a national traitor, declared Putin and two days later appeared dressed in a $10K Loro Piana coat at a rally in Moscow promoting war in Ukraine. Putin has long been a fan of the brand—time to end this. Please, sign”.

Shortly after the start of the war a month ago, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky adopted a more battle-prepared attire—with clothes that appeared to be issued by the quartermaster of the Ukrainian army than his favourite tailor. Prior to that, Mr Zelensky wore suits (usually dark coloured), white shirt with semi-spread collars, and a solid-coloured tie that tended to match his suits: Very much in the classic, politically-smart style of Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau. But then he retired that wardrobe. His favourite top is now a simple, brand-unknown T-shirt, usually in shades between military green and camo brown. However, befitting of a commander-in-chief, his smartly fitted tees—with their refined skinny crew neck and seemingly mercerised fabric (in some instances, and brushed or bio-finished in others)—do not resemble those issued to the private personnel of the army.

Volodymyr Zelensky in his signature T-shirt of unknown make. Photo: AP

Many observers point to Mr Zelensky’s former profession for his present choice of clothes. The president was an actor before, a comedian too; he is aware, it has been suggested, of how to work the costume to his advantage, to augment the believability of his character. He, therefore, knows how to use the T-shirt, as Marlo Brando and James Dean did, to play the everyman who connects with everyday Ukranians, just as our Lee Hsien Loong’s predilection for pink shirts have impressed the electorate. Mr Velensky’s T-shirts also allowed him to gird himself for the difficult role ahead, one that shows he’s battle-ready, not battle-weary. “Civilians and soldiers are dying in Ukraine, the president would not want to be seen to have spent time preening,” one image consultant told us.

But not everyone approves of Mr Zelensky’s casual attire. Following his video address to the US Congress a week ago, Republican financier, chief economist at Euro Pacific Capital, and radio personality Peter Schiff, Tweeted: “I understand times are hard, but doesn’t the President of the #Ukraine own a suit?” Was the sensibilities of Mr Schiff, the Wall Street stiff, insulted? It clearly was: A day ago, he doubled down, by commenting on his podcast The Peter Schiff Show, “Yes, it’s a war. Times are tough. But I didn’t think it was such a dire life or death situation… that he couldn’t have worn something nicer than a T-shirt.” Vladimir Putin, a nicer dresser (certainly more so than his pal Donald Trump), would surely have appeared spiffier. Who was Mr Schiff really expecting?.

When Mr Zelensky addressed the European Parliament two weeks prior to his video appearance in front of the US audience, he wore a T-shirt similar to the one he had on when speaking to the Americans. However, no European lawmaker on the legislative branch felt umbrage at the non-existent snub. Would Peter Schiff be less outraged if Mr Zelensky wore, over the offensive T-shirt, an additional top, such as the blouson that he is, just as often, seen in? Since the Russian invasion, Volodymyr Zelensky has mostly appeared in the same military-style outfit, whether he is speaking to his audience indoor or outdoor. This consistency prompted many media outlets to suppose that the president was directing the defence operation and encouraging international response on little sleep. With constant, audible artillery attacks, do we really expect the leader of the Ukrainians to pause and consider which suit to wear so that the members of the American Congress would not be “disrespected”, while many Ukrainians die in the line of Russian fire? Leave the suit wearing to Vladimir Putin as he marches onward to meet his inexorably tragic fate.

Banned (In Thailand): Lisa And Chivas

A bottle of whiskey in hand may be sexy to many, but Blackpink’s holding of a Chivas Regal is not welcome in the home of tomyam goong

This image of Lisa with a bottle in her hand (as well as others) is not welcome in Thailand. The Blackpink member in her latest advertising coup with the Scotch whiskey Chivas Regal is disallowed in the country of her birth, to the extent that circulating the said photographs on social media by fans is an offence too. Alcohol advertising is banned in Thailand, across all media, despite the country’s very own successful alcohol industry. Local news reports have been reminding would-be violators that the penalty is a fine of up to 500,000 baht (approximately S$20,260) or a year in jail, or both. Critics of the hefty punishment imposed pointed out that traffic offenders are fined no more than 1,000 baht (or about S$40). Perhaps this explains why the Chivas Regal images do not appear on Lisa’s Instagram page.

According to a Bangkok Post headline from last week, the Thai “govt warns against sharing Lisa Blackpink’s whiskey ads” (the photo used for the story was picked from the singer’s Facebook account). In addition, “the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee is considering action against people who post and share images of Blackpink superstar Lisa Manoban promoting a brand of whiskey”. They did not identify the brand. The director of this committee was assigned by the Department of Disease Control—under the Ministry of Public Health—to “investigate anyone who propagates the forbidden images on social media”. The rapper is expected back in Thailand this week, after being away for close to three years, to visit her family and to spend her birthday (she turns 25) at home. Is the authorities’ warning a reaction to her homecoming and the possible frenzy that would result? K-pop stars endorsing alcohol is not new. In fact, fellow Blackpink singer Jennie is promoting the Korean brand Chum-Churum. There is no warning by the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee of the punishment that would be meted out to Thais sharing images of Jennie holding a (much smaller) bottle of soju.

Lisa (aka Lalisa Manoban [officially spelled Manobal]) is Thai. She was born in the province of Buriram, some 300 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, that was once part of the Khmer empire. Some observers feel that she was singled out as she still holds the That passport. Local media often call her a “homegrown superstar” although she was trained in South Korea under YG Entertainment since the age of 13 and is now based in Seoul as she pursued her unstoppable entertainment career. When she was accepted at the label, she was their first non-ethnically Korean trainee. Blackpink debuted in 2016, and the band’s rise was nothing short of meteoric. She is now a solo act too, with a single Lalisa (her Thai name) launched last September, garnering more than 450 million views on YouTube to date, even when the critics’ reviews were, at best, mixed.

The Chivas Regal pair-up made Ms Manobal the whiskey brand’s “first female ambassador in Asia”. It is not known why she accepted the ambassadorship or if she was, at that time, aware of the implication that would bear out in her home country. She claims to like whiskey (calling herself a “whiskey fan” in relation to her Chivas Regal work), but she has not mention before a fondness for Thai ‘whiskey’ such as SangSom, which is popular in Buriram. While this may be her first alcohol endorsement, Ms Manobal isn’t unknown for her paid association with fashion brands. In 2020, she was singled out by the house of Celine, where she was purported to be Hedi Slimane’s muse. She soon became their “global ambassador”, and was recently photographed by Mr Slimane for the spring/summer (March 2022) issue of Pop magazine, sans lao wiski. Adoring Thai fans have that to share freely, and legally. โชคดีค่ะ

Photo: Chivas Regal

A Ban Won’t Shut Him Up

Kanye West’s use of Instagram was disallowed for 24 hours after he posted something racially insensitive. That, regretfully, won’t coax him into speaking with some vestige of grace

The Instagram ban of Kanye West for a mere full day, won’t cause the rapper to suffer much, if he suffered at all. That 24-hour ban is expired now. Mr West is probably planning his next textual attack, never mind that he was already told that what he posted about his estranged wife (they are not divorced yet!) was harassment and her boyfriend Pete Davidson, cyber bullying. And one of the persons who pointed those out, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, was hit back with a racial slur, which prompted IG to put in place that brief, hardly-a-deterrent ban, even if that post was quickly deleted by the author. Why would a mere day’s suspension of his favourite social media be enough to encourage good online behaviour for a fellow who does not care about such things, in the least?

Online, as on the streets, some people are just more entitled than others. Celebrities, especially so, as they are often given no limit to bad behaviour, online or off. Kanye West can be nasty at the Grammy’s, but who remembers? If they do, they recall with fondness. Despite his repeated attacks on not just the two major targets of the present, many fans still consider him “great”. “Great for Gap”, went one fervid support. While it is true that the disapproval of Mr West’s abusiveness has been expressed on the Gap social media pages, there are also many—far more—who ask the clothier to continue to support him: “Don’t cancel Ye”, “da best thing that ever happened to yu (sic)”, “here for Ye”, “Ye is harmless man always like that when y’all will understand him?”, the simple “we love Kanye” and the adoring “Kanye is King”.

Or, could it be possible that, in Mr West’s case, badness is good for business?

Should Gap budge? They probably won’t. Ditto for Adidas and Balenciaga, whose Demna Gvasalia is so chummy with Mr West that it is unlikely the designer would call the rapper out for his deplorable ways, or stop dressing him. Any fashion label linked to Kanye West has only fared well despite past transgressions. Just because they didn’t involve his now-single wife (they are not divorced yet!) does not mean there was no harassment targeted at women. Or, could it be possible that, in Mr West’s case, badness is good for business? Because in that package of wrongs, is an amalgam of talents? As he once said (on Sway In The Morning Radio Show, 2013), “I am Warhol! I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh. Walt Disney, Nike, Google.”

Delusional, some may call that, but Mr West believes in his own greatness and strengths, and has displayed them in full public view, augmenting his self-importance. All that publicness can’t escape scrutiny and being talked about, whether audibly or not. A big part of his success is that he’s discussed, whether flatteringly or otherwise. The multi-channel/platform chatter in its unfiltered, antagonistic glory is, perhaps, what Gap wants, even craves. In as much as we are living in the grasp of what author/Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff calls “surveillance capitalism”, we are also in the grip of scrutinised social existence. Kanye West may say as he pleases and get away with it, but Gap—and the rest—may not merely associate with who they please and not account for their deliberate action. Either way, we are watching. Fashion deserves better.

Update (21 March 2022, 9am): The Los Angeles Times reported that “Kanye West has been pulled off the performance lineup for the upcoming Grammy Awards due to his recent erratic online behavior”. Trevor Noah Twittered, “I said counsel Kanye not cancel Kanye.” Even the leader of his own Sunday Service needs counselling

Illustration: Just So

H&M: Multi-Label Online Store

The Swedish fast fashion giant allows other brands to trade on its e-commerce site in Sweden and Germany

According to a recent Reuters report, H&M won’t be just selling the group’s own labels on their e-store. The news outlet quoted an H&M spokesperson saying that online shoppers can now also purchase from a “curated selection of other fashion brands” in Sweden and Germany. The brands cited are namely jeans and streetwear names: Lee, Wrangler, and Kangol. This expanded mix was made available in Germany this month. A quick look at the Swedish page saw at least 20 non-H&M brands, including the footwear of GH Bass (and even Crocs!), bags of Hershel, and eyewear of Le Specs. There is no mention of introducing this enhanced e-commerce concept outside Europe, only that they “will gradually add more markets online”.

H&M has been comparatively slow in turning to the potential of online selling (although their Swedish site has been around since 1998), compared to others, such as Zara or Uniqlo. As their physical stores are looking a shadow of their earlier selves, the company needs online presence to boost their waning appeal, even with the reported 23% hike in first quarter sales. Some observers say that H&M needs to strengthen their online offerings in the wake of the onslaught by China’s Shein, coupled by increasing difficulty in the Chinese market, where it is (still) suffering backlash against its decision to stop using cotton from Xinjiang. H&M needs to shore up its brand positioning by doing more, and online seems the natural place to press on. Their online sales achieved last year was in the neighbourhood of one-third of total sales.

The inclusion of third-party brands reminds us of e-stores such as Zalora, ASOS, and Urban Outfitters, all with their house labels too. Despite the variety of brands,, is still primarily and aesthetically H&M, comprising at the fore, their own products. To seek non-H&M names, you need to click on ‘H&M with friends’ which allows you to “shop by brand”. While the site layout is similar to its competitors’, is not exactly fizzing with excitement. It could do with the elusive quality known as fun or what e-tailers like to call experiential. It is perhaps telling that despite including the group’s kindred labels, such as Monki, & Other Stories, Arket, and Weekday (all not available here), H&M’s e-commerce offering requires the presence of other brands to augment its merchandise breadth as the world’s second-biggest clothing retailer.

File photo: SOTD

Court Case: He Showed Up In These

Charged with taking monetary perks to reserve limited-edition kicks for resellers, Muhammad Faiz Amy Jasman appeared before the judge in a pair of just-as-limited Nike X Off-White Rubber Dunk

He had his day in court, so did his sought-after shoes. Former sneaker sales assistant Muhammad Faiz Amy Jasman willingly accepted payment for reserving limited-edition kicks at the now-shuttered AW Lab for two resellers, who traded them for profits. That is, simply put, the taking of bribes. When he appeared in court yesterday to hear the sentencing after he pleaded guilty to one charge of corruption, he showed he knows his limited-edition sneakers, especially those from trending collaborations. A photo in Today offered a clear view of Mr Jasman arriving at the State Courts in a pair of Nike X Off-White Rubber Dunk, in “University Blue”, complete with the signature orange zip-tie left visibly intact.

The Nike X Off-White Rubber Dunk was launched in February 2020, but the colourway that Mr Jasman happily wore to his sentencing was dropped in October 2020 as an “Europe exclusive” (it was also available, according to Nike, in the Middle East and Africa). At that time, the regular retail price for the shoes was US$180 (or about S$245). The Rubber Dunk, a mashup of the Nike Pegasus line and the Nike Dunk, is now asking for more than S$600 among online resellers, with a Farfetch listing priced at S$1,631. It is not known if Mr Jasman acquired his pair from AW Lab, a store known to carry limited-edition sneakers in colourways that were released, as Nike describes, “with exclusive regional availability”—mainly Europe, where the Bata-owned retailer has about 200 stores. According to his lawyer, Mr Jasman wanted to make a quick buck in order to support his family; he does not, apparently, splurge on luxuries. Perhaps S$245 is nothing, compared to, say, S$3,100 for the Nike X Dior Air Jordan 1.

Muhammad Faiz Amy Jasman. Illustration: Just So

According to news reports, Mr Jasman received a total of S$5,295 in “reservation fees” from two individuals. In the year that the Nike X Off-White Rubber Dunk was made available globally, he was working at the Wisma Atria outlet of AW Lab in basement one. Initially, he listed a pair of unidentified sneakers on Carousell. A man named Brian Fong responded, and when he was told that Mr Jasman worked at AW Lab, asked if the latter could reserve sneakers on his behalf, with additional “fees” offered for each pair. An arrangement was made. Mr Fong would transfer the monies—cost of the shoes and the attendant “fees”—into the bank account of Mr Jasman’s wife, who would make the purchases at the Wisma Atria store. Mr Fong would later collect the sneakers from her. Mr Fong reportedly bought a total of 49 pairs through Mr Jasman in this manner. Another reseller who similarly secured shoes from the ex-AW Lab staffer was Meng Fanxuan. Mr Jasman was fined S$10,000 and was also made to pay a penalty tantamount to the bribes he took. Mr Meng was fined for his part in the scheme, but it is not known if Mr Fong has been charged.

At the time of its launch, the Nike X Off-White Rubber Dunk, discernible by its overlays and offsets, was described by the media as “a real winner”. Wearing a pair on the day of his court appearance, Muhammad Faiz Amy Jasman was perhaps saying he was a winner too: He did not have to do time.

Photo: Nike