Petrina Kow, Janice Koh, and Pam Oei want your (designer) clothes and bags. But it’s not for them; it’s for Pasar Glamour, an annual charity bazaar organised by the trio of thespians. The bazaar first begun in memory of the late Emma Yong, their friend and actress who passed on in 2012 due to stomach cancer. Describing Yong as a a “big fashionista”, Oei tells us that it begun with a bag of her gowns, combined with their friends’ old clothes. It was a conversation in a kitchen that sparked the idea of Pasar Glamour.
The scene described by the trio reminds one of the now iconic sample sale scene in the 2009 romantic comedy film Confessions of a Shopaholic. Oei tell us that, last year, they had hordes of people, armed with stools, waiting in line at 10am, when the bazaar was only set to open its doors at 11am. “This is unlike any other sale in Singapore. We have really good deals, and there’s only one piece per item.”
Lest you think it’s all used designer or high street goods, there’s also a Singapore designer section for those who prefer not to buy pre-owned items. This range features clearance items and excess stock from homegrown labels such as Carrie K., Manjrie Gupta, Matter, In Good Company, Beyond The Vines, Jo Kilda, Stolen, Ying The Label and many more.
When we visited its makeshift warehouse space in a cosy walkup in Little India, racks of clothes were lined from wall to wall. Among the designer goods hung a full fox coat, a Chanel jacket and Jimmy Choo heels. Last year, when introduced jewellery and other expensive items, they had to hire bouncers and security. “We had items go missing. How could people steal from charity?” Kow exclaims.
For the uninitiated, all of Pasar Glamour’s proceeds go to its five beneficiaries that include Aidha, an organisation that helps foreign domestic workers and women with low-income with financial education, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation through courses, as well as AWARE Sexual Assault Centre. The other three are independent charity Arc Children’s Center that offers a sanctuary for the children with cancer or lift-threatening illnesses; play and art-focused Playeum, which organises Giving Tuesday for children with special needs, as well as Wild Rice Gift of Theatre which gifts free tickets to the elderly, children and families from low-income backgrounds.
Koh highlights that even within those categories of charities, they aim to be specific with their causes, like the AWARE Sexual Assault Center. As for Aidha, the three women tell us that the donation benefits plenty of career women like themselves — the ‘superwoman’ role is only possible “thanks to their other hands and legs”.
“When you lift one woman up, it lifts the entire community. “
Koh tells us that she’ll personally pick out clothes to gift to a group of low-income women from Daughters of Tomorrow who are training to get back into the workforce. “Where possible, we make this into a gift that keeps on giving,” she says.
The amount of dedication put into Pasar Glamour is astounding. “It’s time, it’s sorting, it’s being on your feet. It’s Janice Koh standing on a step ladder for five hours doing flat lays,” says Oei. Koh tells us she has cleaned 10 leather bags, and at least 30 to 40 shoes. Every piece is also steamed and hung.
So what makes a worthy inclusion in the sale? Koh tells us that they take in high street brands very selectively. Instead, they’re looking for designer goods in order to sell a lower volume at a higher price. “It takes me one Valentino dresses to earn the amount of money 40 fast fashion dresses can,” she says. When asked what they’re looking for from Prestige readers, the three reply in unison: “Designer bags!”
Koh explains that these are the easiest to sell as they’re not dependent on sizing, and can be put up online long after the sale is over. But the three are open to designer labels in great condition that can be dropped off anytime.
As for those visiting, you’re assured of a good experience at Pasar Glamour. “We had this beautiful, sexy Ashley Isham number that only someone of a certain frame could pull off. The right girl came in. She was a dancer. In the end, it fit her so well. When she came out of the room, we were all applauding — it’s something we all do”.
We can’t think of a better way to shop.
Pasar Glamour is happening from 27 to 29 September at the National Design Centre
All enquiries related to donations can be relayed to firstname.lastname@example.org