Home-grown fashion label Reckless Ericka has received acclaim for its chic apparel spanning the theatre, retail and education sectors over the past decade. It is also one of the 61 Singapore brands that are showcased at Design Orchard, a local design retail shop and incubator, which started last month.
For Reckless Ericka’s co-owner and fashion designer Afton Chen, all these might not have been possible if the 32-year-old had not met Mr Joe Spinelli, the principal of Raffles College of Higher Education (Raffles Design).
Then a second-year undergraduate, Ms Chen recalls that it was Mr Spinelli who encouraged her to join the Young Designer’s Contest that was held as part of Singapore Fashion Week in 2007. She emerged as a finalist, which paved the way to start her label two years later.
She says: “It was my first competition in which I had to design a fashion collection, so Mr Spinelli gave me feedback on how to make the pieces cohesive and advice on time management.”
Thanks to the competition, Ms Chen was featured in a few local newspapers. Orders started to stream in for customised pieces, which kick-started Reckless Ericka.
After the ‘A’ Levels, Ms Chen took the full-time, two-year Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design, followed by a one-year Bachelor of Design (majoring in Fashion Design) awarded by Raffles College of Design and Commerce in Sydney and delivered by Raffles Design. She graduated in 2008.
“The comprehensive course stood out as it had a wide variety of classes that were packed in the shortest period of time for me to graduate,” she says.
From pattern cutting and manufacturing to marketing, she was immersed in the world of fashion.
Asked about the most valuable skill she picked up, she points out Raffles Design’s strong focus on apparel production skills such as drafting, draping and sewing.
“I design every garment in Reckless Ericka,” she says. “As I am strongly skilled in production, I can communicate well with garment factories, which ensures the right types of cutting and fit.”
She also counts “the guidance of passionate lecturers and making friends with students from all over the world” as her best takeaway from Raffles Design.
“It was an eye-opening melting pot of cultures. I still keep in touch with some of my course mates, who have also started their fashion labels.”
On her biggest career achievement, she says: “When I walk down the street and see my designs being worn, it gives me unspeakable joy.”
This article was first published in The Straits Times on Feb 23, 2019.