A Light Thread

Ask any visitor to Singapore what strikes them about the city, and you can count on receiving a combination of any of the following answers: the hot, humid weather, the frenzied pace of life, and the cleanliness and greenery. This last point, in particular, isn’t all that surprising: since the “Garden City” vision was introduced in the 1960s, the name has stuck, with both locals and visitors taking to the title readily.

But unlike the enduring nature of the “Garden City” moniker, fashion and lifestyle brands have had relatively less luck when it comes to adapting to the needs and preferences of those residing in Singapore. Only a handful have managed to remain relevant till today, and those that have face the growing threat of e-commerce. It’s no mean feat to stay on trend, after all, when the weather forecast is an eternal path of relentless sunshine littered with the occasional downpour.

Yet the island city has managed to find a favourite in MUJI, the Japanese brand offering items such as household products, apparel and food. Perhaps its focus on simplification struck a chord with Singaporeans; rather than struggling to keep up with the latest fads, MUJI brings a sense of modesty to its products, a subtle tempering of the harried, frazzled nerves many city-dwellers can attest to having.

This process of simplification, in fact, is a core tenet upon which the brand is built. From the unbleached paper packaging it uses at its hundreds of outlets worldwide, to the “no brand” branding it is famous for, MUJI has somehow managed to subvert the modern day expectation and hunger for bigger and better. When it comes to the Japanese brand, though, there is always another step to cut out of the manufacturing process, one more block in a Jenga tower to skillfully remove without sacrificing the integrity of their work.

Perhaps the one line of products that best showcases this attitude of simplicity is MUJI’s organic cotton range. In recent years, going organic has become something of a movement, with food establishments building entire menus around naturally grown produce. But despite it being so often tied to the idea of simple living, the hype surrounding an organic lifestyle can ironically be quite stressful to keep up with. Which is why MUJI’s quiet, understated move towards organic cotton feels a lot more accessible.

Read more in The U Press N˚13 (Singapore edition).