Coming to the UK as a teenager from Singapore wasn’t just an adventure; it was also a chance for me to develop a whole new look. My hometown is better known now for being the setting of Crazy Rich Asians, but back then it felt more like a sleepy backwater than a style destination. In any case, I was too busy using my fingernails to discreetly liberate imported magazines from their security bags in Borders – the bookstore with the biggest supply of imported fashion titles on the island – to notice. I’d smuggle British Vogue, The Face, Dazed & Confused and i-D to the aisle for children’s books and plough through every single issue sat on a made-for-kids floor cushion, ignoring the death stares of five year olds.
These days, I can afford to buy my own magazines, but I’ll never forget the window that those afternoons in Borders opened out on to the world. I read about British designers like Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, music scenes like garage and rave, and extravagant fashion parties attended in a mysterious, little-known area known as “Dalston”. I’d look up from an article about a little-known band called The Prodigy and realise that hours had passed and the bookstore was about to close, forcing me to hurry back to the magazine section to return the issues.