Discover your fashion style

If you’ve been wondering where you can get that jacket that the actress wore, look no further because help is at hand. Check out StyleCrush, which has just been rolled out in Singapore.

StyleCrush is a style discovery platform that uses AI technology to let you find clothes and fashion items, including shoes and bags, that caught your attention.

All you need to do is to upload an image or paste a link of the item that you’re looking for and the AI system will connect you to the relevant shopping malls where you can purchase the products conveniently.

You can also create a wish list of the fashion products discovered through the search and place them in an album. It’s like a curation of your tastes where you can come back to and browse at a later date.

The platform is developed by Korea’s Odd Concepts, which is collaborating with Suggesty and Sta1 of Korea, and Qoo10 of Singapore to provide you with a wide variety of fashion styles.

Suggesty is an online mall selling AI-curated Korean designer brands internationally and will share its database and apparels with StyleCrush. Sta1 has more than one million products from over 6,000 brands.

Odd Concepts will work with more fashion and apparel e-commerce partners in Singapore and ASEAN countries to provide consumers with access to a greater variety of fashion styles.

Do check out StyleCrush the next time a fashion item catches your eye.

What’s your size?

Size.jpgSize can be a highly sensitive topic if not presented correctly. XS or XL can mean different things to different people. For some, being extra small is nice but others may feel that it translates to tiny, bony or skinny. Likewise, the other end of the scale is another massive minefield.

One of the biggest problems with buying clothes is getting the size right. Each continent has its own standards. An S is Asia and translate to XS in the US or the UK. Even then, the same L in the UK and the US varies with the US version tending to be a size or two larger.

I have comfortably fitted into a US XS (Abercrombie and Fitch), UK S and Asia M.

When buying clothes online, it’s important to check out the size chart, and in some cases, provide a little variant because cuts can differ. I have bought same size tops from my favourite team’s store and they don’t always turn out the same. Cuts, material and design make the difference too.

Even when you’ve done all your due diligence, like checking the size chart, reading reviews and looking at the cuts, things could still go wrong. It happened to me with an order from a China site. I ordered a jacket according to my measurements and mapped it against the shop’s size chart.

When the order arrived, I was stunned. The jacket looks like the picture but it at least three sizes smaller!

So, sometimes, it’s better to buy from more familiar brands that you’ve already bought from and are comfortable with. Otherwise, ordering clothes online is a case of hit and miss.

 

Barber takes a cut

Barber.jpgCompetition for business is everywhere. Even everyday services have to learn to adapt to market demand and pricing in order to survive.

Case in point is my barber. I’ve been going to him for my snips for several years. He used to charge S$10 each time but raised it to S$12 a couple of years ago.

As a regular, I have not issue with this increase because of inflation and continued going to his shop in the heartland.

Yesterday, I went for my cut and was surprised that the S$12 sticker on his rate card was removed with the price reduced to the original S$10 of recent past.

I was curious and thought that perhaps there was a mistake.

Why asked, he sighed and replied that he had to reduce the rate two months ago because potential walk-in customers saw the price and did not come in.

He had to do this to draw more customers in the face of growing competition.

Price is a sensitive matter — perhaps more so in HDB towns. Over the past few years, new hair salons have sprung up in the neighbourhood where my barber is located.

Some look new and spanky and offer cuts at highly competitive prices — as low as S$5. In some other areas, I have seen prices as low as S$3.

While the price sounds good for consumers, it can take a hit for service providers who rely on a regular clientele to survive. Barbers sell time so whether it’s a S$3 or S$12 cut, it still takes the same amount of time. Charging a lower rate means that they are earning less per hour.

Competition and an ever changing business landscape are inevitable but there has to be a bar somewhere. Otherwise, traditional barbers may find it hard to make a living and close shop altogether.

MBT GT 18: Great for flat-footers

MBT GT 18
The GT 18 (left) is a worthy successor to the GT 17.

One of the pains of having flat feet is feeling strain on the joints after walking. As a life-long sufferer, I have to put up with the pain after exercising and while travelling, making walking somewhat of a chore.

That was until I was introduced to rockers by a friend. My love affair with the boat-shaped sole shoes began with Skechers and has since evolved to my first pair of MBT shoes last year.

It’s the first pair of shoes that got me walking and walking — and loving the experience! This speaks volumes for a flat-footer where walking is a constant pain.

The MBT 17 is so comfortable and well padded that I do not feel the strain even after hours of walking. Its tri-density rocker sole is amazing, relieving any pressure from hitting the ground.

After a year of use, my trusty MBT has worn out. The heel portion is coming apart from constant use, including travelling to four continents with me.

And it’s been a very long time — since my teenage years — that I’ve worn out a pair of shoes. In recent past, I changed shoes because of age not over use.

MBT GT18 side

Needless to say, the choice for a replacement was obvious. I went for its successor, the MBT GT !8. My daughters bought it as an early birthday present for me.

From the first feel of walking in it this month, it’s a worthy successor.

What I like about the MBT GT 18:

  1. The colour — While the MBT GT 17 was good, it’s shades of blue makes it hard to pair with certain outfits. I loved the black model of the latest incarnation. With its white and grey sole, it’s a match for most of my everyday wear.
  2. The fit — I really like the way it wraps my feet snugly without being overly tight. Plus, I can slip it on and off without unlacing!MBT GT18 bottom.JPG
  3. The sole — It’s the main difference between this and other shoes. Though the Skechers Shape-ups were good, they tend to have a softer sole so you can still feel the ground when walking. On the other hand, the MBT GT 18 has a firm tri-density rocker sole, giving a more confident feel when hitting the ground.
  4. The cushioning — The MBT GT 18 provides great cushioning, protecting the sole from hard ground.
  5. The price –– At S$199, it’s cheaper than most other branded shoes and for me, definitely better value.

As you can tell, I’m totally sold on MBT shoes, especially for walking and running. I have a few pairs for formal and casual wear. The feel for those is different because the rocker is more pronounced and may take a little getting used to.

If you’re keen on getting the shoes in Singapore, check out MBT outlets at Paragon, #04-12 and Suntec City, North Wing, #01-471. The staff’s really good too — they are customer-oriented and know their stuff.

 

Zoku stainless steel bottle keeps fluids at the right temperature

IMG_20181019_161722.jpgWater bottles. I’ve an affinity with them since I was a child. Plastic, glass, metal, hybrid, you name it, I’ve got it. In fact, the reason I have so many is because I have the tendency to lose them while young.

Some were lost when I left them behind in a football field or volleyball court while others were forgotten at various spots where I stopped for a bit of fun.

Besides losing them, I was also a specialist in spoiling them — OK, the quality wasn’t quite as good back in my growing up years. The plastic cover will break or leak due to wear and tear — more tear than wear, I figured.

These days, I don’t buy water bottles. People either give them to me or I get them at events.

Last October, I received a water bottle that I really like. The Tiger brand is renowned for its sturdiness and the size was just right for my sling bag.

After nearly a year of use, somehow the top cover gave way and could not be fixed. I was disappointed and for the first time in decades, contemplated buying a replacement.

But, God knew what I needed and at a recent event, I got one. Typically, water bottles given as memento tend to be the cheaper kind — those that end up in storage or being given away to others.

This one was special. The Zoku stainless steel bottle was sturdy and solid. The hallmark of a good water bottle is its ability to keep water or other liquid contents at the same temperature when poured in. And this one excels. The ice remains in solid form even after a day or two and the water is icy cold — my kind of water after a long walk.

Here are five things I like about the Zoku stainless steel bottle:

  1. Nice colours. The range of metallic colours make them suitable for all — men, women, young, and old.
  2. Good build. It feels solid and fits nicely in the palm.
  3. Temperature retention. This is very important. Whether you like it hot or cold, it stays hot for up to 15 hours or cold for up to 70 hours.
  4. Smooth opening. The polished thread-free mouthpiece makes it easy to drink without that feeling of something poking at the mouth.
  5. Easy carrying. The removable paracord lanyard makes it easy to bring the bottle around.

Priced at S$31.90 at Qoo10, it is not overly expensive. What you get is a water bottle that will last and one that you will be proud to carry around.

Second chance for Garmin

 

Garmin VivoActive 3Truth be told, after my first experience the Garmin Vivosmart, I wanted to steer clear of Garmin. I bought three of the devices — one for me and two for my daughters and all had displays that malfunctioned just after a year of use. That’s not great value by any measure and is a red flag for me.

Based on this negative experience. I never thought that I would consider having another Garmin device. Since then, I’ve been using a Pebble 2, which is still running perfectly after more than two years. Of course, the sad part is that Pebble has since been sold to Fitbit and support is almost non-existent.

Back to Garmin. I was asked if I wanted the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music as a gift. Believe me, I thought long and hard. There are many other options out there, including the over-priced Apple Watch, various Fitbit models and Samsung Gear devices.

After some research online, I decided to give Garmin a second chance.

It’s been a week since I started using the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music and so far, the experience has been good. I won’t say “great” yet because I’m still trying to get used to the interface.

Here are five reasons why I like this smartwatch:

  1. Big enough screen. The 1.2-inch display is sufficiently large without being overwhelming. I don’t have a bulky arm so it looks just nice. My hope is that this screen will continue functioning for a long time.
  2. Long battery life. It’s supposed to have up to seven days of battery life, which is wonderful for a short trip overseas without needing to bring the cable. However, when GPS and always-on synching are activated, battery life is considerably shortened to a couple of days. The key is to keep it simple and cut out unnecessary features.
  3. Many pre-loaded settings. I was thrilled to see so many activity settings — walk, run, threadmill, indoor track, bike, bike indoor, walk indoor, floor climb, pool swim, and strength among others. This makes it easy to get started on many activities.
  4. Simple customisation. The Garmin Connect app is easy to use and allows downloading of apps, changing of watch faces and smart notification settings.
  5. Easy payment. I’m not talking about installment payment for the smartwatch but rather the Garmin Pay feature which enables contactless payment for purchases when tagged to a credit card. At the moment, only OCBC Bank in Singapore supports Garmin Pay, which is fine with me because I have the bank’s credit card.

I’ve yet to try out the music feature as I’m more accustomed to Spotify, which is currently not supported by the smartwatch.

Overall, the signs are good and I am optimistic that the Garmin Vivoactive 3 can at least match my sturdy Pebble 2’s shelf life.

 

Zara blazers are hot!

IMG_20180628_133811.jpgComing from a tropical county, I’ve often wondered how people in temperate countries still could wear a blazer even in summer.

The jackets and suits that I own are perfect for Singapore’s air-conditioned buildings but not suitable to be worn outdoor in the 30 plus degrees Celsius weather for long.

Hence, I was delighted when I spotted a blazer in Zara during my trip to Taipei (it was sweltering). Priced at around S$120, the light blue blazer came with a half-inner lining so that it doesn’t feel so warm.

Flamingo pin.jpgThe material has a netting sort of texture, making it an easy match for both formal and business casual wear. For an added touch, Zara paired the blazer with a red flamingo pin on the lapel.

When I wore in the first time in Singapore, several persons stopped and gave me the thumbs up.

Yesterday, I visited an exhibition at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and decided to check out Zara. That same blazer was up for grab at S$59.90 — that’s half the price. And the choice of colours was more than in Taipei.

I couldn’t let the opportunity pass so I bought one in navy blue. Guess this sort of even out the price per blazer.

When I told the cashier that I had bought a similar blazer at the original price in Taipei, she commented that many overseas shoppers were very happy when they come to the shop. It seems that such sales are not common in Zara outlets elsewhere.

Many other items are going at reduced prices at the Zara outlet at 10 Bayfront Avenue, B2-08 & B2-113, The Shoppes at Marina Bay. Think the sale should also be on at the VivoCity outlet.

So, if you’re into Zara clothing and are looking for great bargains, now’s a great time to drop head there.

 

Regrets, I’ve had a few

Baubax adA friend recommended it. The post kept appearing on my Facebook page. I watched the video on the Kickstarter page and…I was sold!

Don’t know if any of you had the same feeling but sometimes, some things just seem too good not to buy — especially if you’re a sucker for techie stuff like me.

I mean, who could turn away from a jacket that is designed for travelling and comes with 15 features such as a built-in neck pillow, eye mask, gloves, earphone holders, drink pocket, and pockets for practically everything, including one that can fit an iPad?

It’s a dream come true. Finally, here was a company that knew what travellers really need.
Without much hesitation, I joined thousands of others who pledged to bring the project to fruition. The cost was US$149 (plus another US$20 for shipping) — much more than I would have liked to pay for a hoodie but the thrill got to me.
The delivery was supposed to be in November 2015 so I was looking forward to bringing it for my year end holiday.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. The company encountered problems with finding the right manufacturers and parts. In the name of quality control and lack of experience, it asked for understanding and the wait began.
I waited and waited. The only consolation is that I wasn’t alone — I had more than 40,000 others on the same boat. Some of them were very vocal and voiced their displeasure on Kickstarter.
IMG_20180523_111158Four months later, l received a notification that the package was on the way. It finally arrived in March 2016.
I don’t know if it was the long wait that killed off the initial enthusiasm I had for the travel hoodie. But, when I held it in my hand and tried it, I was kind of ambivalent.
IMG_20180523_140820What’s good
  1. The travel pillow is the best I’ve had. Inflating and deflating are simple and the felt material makes for a comfortable rest.
  2. The hidden hand warmer is perfect for a cold winter’s day or even a chilly flight.
  3. The eye mask is helpful for getting some shut-eye on flights or train/bus rides.

What’s bad

  1. The jacket is heavy. Even without putting anything in the pockets, it’s heavy to carry and wear. Hence, the travel practicality was negated.
  2. The colour wasn’t as vibrant as pictured. Even taking into consideration the lighting, it was not close and looked faded.
  3.  The price. OK, I willingly paid the price for it. Nobody held a gun to my head. But, ultimately, the end product is not worth the price.

Lesson learnt here is not to be overly enthusiastic, especially to the point that I did not weigh the price against the benefits properly. Thankfully, this is only one of a handful of regrets with my purchases.

2-minute facial

LumiSpaI’m not the kind of guy who goes for facials. And I’ve not had one in my life because I don’t feel that I need it.

A week ago, my wife bought me an ageLOC LumiSpa system for our upcoming anniversary. I was tickled because I had wanted to get one for her instead — she beat me to it.

Anyway, because it’s a present from my dearest, I decided to use it.

LumiSpa is easy to use — apply a dab of the cleanser on the silicon head, place it against the face and enjoy the gentle motion.

In fact, LumiSpa is so gentle that I was tempted to press it harder against my face just to be sure that it will exfoliate better. But, there’s no need to do that because the device will pause and vibrate when there’s too much pressure. This safety feature is to protect against damaging the skin.

The total process takes just two minutes — 30 seconds for each quadrant of the face. At the end of each 30-second slot, the head will pause and vibrate so that I can move on to the next quadrant.

The recommendation is to use LumiSpa twice a day — once in the morning and the other at night.

LumiSpa is claimed to “cleanse away dirt, oil, makeup, and toxins, leaving skin smoother and purer while reducing the appearance of pores”. The benefits are supposed to be:

  1. Skin renewal
  2. Skin smoothness
  3. Increased radiance
  4. Refreshed skin
  5. Purified skin
  6. Minimised appearance of pores
  7. Increased appearance of skin volume and density

As a facial nerd, I was not expecting much but this morning, I discovered that a blackhead that I’ve had since my teenage years is no longer there. It’s gone! I remember trying to get rid of that blackhead when I was younger to no success — hence, I left it alone.

But, its disappearance after a week of LumiSpa use has increased my faith in the device.

If you’re in Singapore and keen on getting one, drop me a message and I’ll connect you to my seller. Otherwise, check out the Nuskin site.

Bellroy Note Sleeve scores on slimness

Bellroy Note Sleeve handI’ve had a fascination with wallets since I was a kid. From plastic wallets in my childhood days to leather ones today, I have used, lost and worn out more than I can count. And I am not one to switch wallets frivolously. I will use it till it’s no longer presentable — or in my younger day, lost because of my playfulness.

Last month, I was drawn to the Bellroy wallet. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of this brand. A friend had pointed out a Bellroy sale to me last year, to which I did not pay much attention to.

But, this time, it was different. I have a need for a slimmer wallet. Imagine, I have to split my cards to two thick bulging wallets, carrying just one when I go out. But, the bulge makes the existing wallets unsuitable for travel. It’s cumbersome to slot in and take out from the front pocket of my pants/jeans, and takes up lots of space in my sling bag.

Back to Bellroy. The Australian company’s wallets are known for their slimness. I began reading more reviews and the more I read, the more my interest was piqued.

Next up was determining which model is best for me. I narrowed down to two — the Note Sleeve and the interestingly named Hide & Seek.

Bellroy Note Sleeve front.jpgBoth met my requirements but I opted for the Note Sleeve because of one tiny feature. The Hide & Seek is better in terms of compartments as it has two cash slots and can take one more card (12 compared to 11 for the Note Sleeve).

But that tiny feature is that the Hide & Seek has Bellroy’s metallic logo on the front while the Note Sleeve just has the brand debossed. This may not be much for most people but for me and my dry skin, it’s the difference between getting occasional scratches and no bleeding at all.

The prices vary from site to site but I managed to snag one for practically nothing with my KrisFlyer miles redemption — I just had to pay for the postage.

Bellroy Note Sleeve packagingBellroy is certainly consistent in its messaging because the wallet came in a slim box that resembles an envelope.

After transferring the 11 cards from my bulging wallet to the new acquisition, I was greatly impressed.

Bellroy Note Sleeve slim.jpgHere’s what I like about the Note Sleeve.

  • Slimness: Measuring just 102mm by 90mm, the Note Sleeve is really slim. Its compactness can be attributed to the design, which minimises the layers of leather to accommodate cards.
  • Stylish: The wallet comes in premium, environmentally certified leather that is soft and comfortable to the touch.
  • Sufficient card slots: It has three dedicated card slots when opened — the other cards can be bunched together in a slot with a pull tab for easy retrieval.
  • Stores notes easily: The full-sized note section is perfect for most, if not all, currency. A hidden pocket can store coins or additional cards.
  • Secured: It blocks RFID signals, protecting the cards inside

With a three-year warranty, I feel like I’m on to a winner. No more bulges. No more trying to shove it into my sling bag. And best of all, no scratches.

If you’re keen on getting the Bellroy Note Sleeve, check it here.