To liven up the weekends, Mr Ye Yong Cheng, 21, who is doing his national service, creates apparel at home using his sewing machine so he can make the most of any downtime over the two years.
He fell in love with sewing after being encouraged by his mother to pick up a hobby during the pandemic.
He started out upcycling, cutting and repurposing old shirts. Soon after, he fell in love with the craft of creating clothes from scratch, using discarded material found at home and in fabric stores in Chinatown. “I struggled a lot as I learnt my sewing entirely from YouTube tutorials,” says Mr Ye, whose parents are divorced.
Egged on by the many home-grown businesses which sprouted during the pandemic, he launched his monochromatic, elusive fashion label, Nohbody, on Instagram in January 2022. Gothic Victorian styles, East-Asian art, Japanese manga, video games and outfits worn by K-pop idols count among his inspirational touchstones.
Mr Ye, who studied art for his O levels, takes reference from character designs in role-playing video games Final Fantasy and Legend Of Zelda. “I always imagined what their cool outfits would be like in real life,” he says, letting on that he, his 28-year-old sister and their mother, who runs a property investment business, are all video-gaming fanatics.
“It may sound delusional, but from the start, I intend for wearers of my clothing to feel like a main character in a video game or film. My clothing can become a costume that brings out an alter ego that is separate from your own identity.”
Nohbody’s aesthetic is defined by silhouettes and geometric shapes that accentuate the wearer’s frame. The label specialises in skin-baring, deconstructed corset looks with fine lacing details and billowing cargo pants, which start at $90. His minimalist Instagram page features deadpan models, seemingly poised in a video game role-playing “pick your character” stance. On good months, he can earn up to $2,000.
The self-taught tailor says: “Corsets really boost the figure and shape of a person. The flexibility afforded by the medium is very appealing and I wanted a modern take on it. The lace backing of the corset also enables people of different sizes to wear it.”
While Mr Ye stitches pants for the occasional male customer, his main target demographic is women aged 18 to 30. “I am always so amazed by the female figure, artistically. The female figure is so beautiful and underappreciated, especially in Singaporean fashion. I do get comments that my clothes are sexualised, especially in Singaporean society, but my female friends have told me that my clothes have helped them embrace their risque side.”