Mr Michael Yap, Chief Executive National Computer Board Speech - Fashion Show Opening

Mr Michael Yap, Chief Executive
National Computer Board
Speech - Fashion Show Opening
Singapore, 14 May 1999

Mr. Allan Rubenstein, Vice President, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts,
Distinguished guests, students, parents,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Future E-lancing Fashion Designers

1. As I join you this evening to celebrate the works of the graduating students from the Fashion Design Diploma programme, I must say I am very envious of our young aspiring fashion designers. For you live in exciting times. It is as if you have "two" worlds in which you can operate - a physical world, and a virtual world with its many opportunities offered by the Net.

2. What exactly are some of these opportunities for our fashion designers of tomorrow? Let's paint a scenario. You are an enthusiastic, budding designer looking to work for fashion houses. You can choose to take the traditional route and bring your portfolio physically for interviews. However, you will probably have to worry about lugging your work around, and be physically constrained by the number of places you can go to within a given period. Or you can choose the new way and market yourself to the whole industry online through a central resource centre.

3. You can either work solely for a single fashion house, which is the current way, or you could do freelancing work on the Net. I call it e-lancing. At any one time, you would be working for many fashion houses, from different parts of the world. You would be able to interact with colleagues and customers over the Internet and join virtual communities of designers worldwide. Thus you do not have to be physically in Paris to interact or compete with a French designer or in Milan with an Italian designer.

4. Let's say that through your hard work, you have established a reputation and decided to strike out with your own label. You can either engage a distributor or open a physical store, which is the old way; or you could source for distributors worldwide via cyberspace or sell directly via electronic commerce. For example, a totally customized made-to-measure jeans, where customers can submit their own measures online, choose the fabric they want, have it made to measure and delivered to their homes. Such cyber-stores are posing a serious challenge to established brick-and-mortar types of department stores worldwide.

5. I am not implying that the old way is wrong or inefficient, but rather the advancement of technology has opened up new opportunities that creative young minds like you should not ignore. I strongly encourage all aspiring fashion designers here to exploit the Internet. The Internet with its lower start-up costs and barrier of entry than physical implementations, is a great "opportunity equalizer". The Internet has further increased communication flow, shortened the production cycle, and allowed everyone to market and publish his or her product worldwide. All it takes is a bit more creativity and imagination, which I can see no lack of in this crowd here.

6. What can we do to help our people to operate more effectively in this new world? I envision the evolution of a new concept called "Talent Oasis" - an online talent capitol to support e-lancers. One major challenge in e-lancing is trust. Trust is of the companies looking for talent and services-how do they know the cyber-person they are about to engage is who he or she claims to be? Trust is also of e-lancers looking for contracts-how can they be assured that they will be paid for their work? The other challenge is search and match-how do companies and e-lancers find each other and match the needs and requirements? This is where a trusted and efficient electronic infrastructure such as the "Talent Oasis" can help-a reputed intermediary that both companies and e-lancers can trust and that can bring both parties together.

7. I am also happy to know that an important step was taken by the Fashion Design Department to include computer training into the curriculum more than 3 years ago. This exposure to Information Technology has helped students increase their productivity and relevance in the knowledge-based economy. IT tools allow Fashion Designers to explore more options in designing on the computer, enabling the designer to vary designs in seconds, mix and match colors at a click of the mouse, and create unique patterns and design output to show customers in real-time.

8. This Fashion show, a culmination of 6 months' work from the final year students is a true demonstration of teamwork in action. The graduating students from the Diploma course, and students from the School of Multimedia Art and the Faculty of Performance Arts have put in practice teamwork skills, bringing out the best in fashion, multimedia art and dance in harmony.

9. Looking at all the happy faces and proud parents, I can see that all the hard work has been worth it. I would like to congratulate the students for putting up such a good show. The Diploma at LASALLE-SIA has indeed provided a good training ground to prepare students to develop and gain expertise to translate concepts to reality.

10. I wish you all success as you embark on your careers in the physical world, as well as the electronic world. It's now my pleasure to declare the Fashion Show open.