Style Warrior.

I am a Red Dot Juanderer. And this is my Singapore story. 

For this Surigao-born lad who grew up collecting local fashion magazines, little did he know he will eventually dress and style some of the biggest stars in the entertainment and fashion industry today. Having worked with the likes of Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby, Raymond Gutierrez, Janice and Gelli de Belen, among many others, Paul dela Merced (30 years old) pursued a career out of ‘passion for fashion.’ At present, Paul now wears another creative hat as the co-founder of a home and lifestyle Singaporean website, Decqoo.com.

My Singapore Story:

Back in Manila, I was managing a women’s wear brand called Mosaic. On weekends, I also handle styling projects assisting one of the country’s go-to stylists, Ton Lao, for his clients such as some of the celebrities in the Sunday noontime shows ASAP and the now-defunct SOP.

I moved to Singapore in August 2010 and have worked in an international event sales company, in a local advertising firm overseeing fashion brands such as Robinsons and Marks & Spencer, and later on, in the online fashion store, Zalora,

In Zalora, I told myself that I would like to learn the ropes of the industry. I was hired to manage their eDM campaigns and was later pulled to do actual production work. Eventually, I did online editorship. During the 2 years I was there, I learned how to polish my styling skills and how to properly negotiate with modeling agencies especially given our limited budgets.

After Zalora, I then spearheaded an online beauty and e-commerce site, Luxola (which is now acquired by Sephora), as their editor as well.

What Do I Love Most About Being An Editor? 

I love styling — it’s what I do best. But I don’t want to limit myself to just that. When you become an editor, the approach is more holistic. You don’t just think about creative strategies, but you also do the necessary executions. It’s all about creating ‘original content.’

Fashion Vs. Beauty:

In fashion, anything goes. Beauty is more detailed and specific especially when it comes to techniques.

Then Came Decqoo.com…

I’m lucky to be working with four intelligent and hardworking Singaporean gentlemen. Each person handles different tasks: from finance, to business development, tech, and overall lead. They said: we’re missing a creative person — so why don’t you join us? To which I eagerly replied: why not? 

I never looked back ever since. Fashion can wait for now. At present, I’ve already explored different facets of creativity: from fashion, beauty, to home and lifestyle.

All of my colleagues are newlyweds and it’s a different kind of working environment with them. In the past, I’ve always been working with girls and gays. It’s a different kind of chemistry working with straight men: they are very straightforward and efficient. They don’t like dilly-dallying.

Decqoo.com is about home luxury within reach. We source products around Southeast Asia and we sell it in Singapore via our website.

Fashion And My Childhood:

I started collecting local magazines at a very young age. I remember collecting Chalk Magazine all year round. I also collected Metro, Metro Him, and Preview magazines. There were no Vogues in Surigao, unfortunately I could not buy one then.

My Style Icon:

If you are a stylist, everyone admires Grace Coddington. Everything she does turns to gold. She goes beyond fashion; she’s all about ‘imagination.’ She tells a story and it shows whenever you flip through the pages of the American Vogue.

Locally, Liz Uy has become a style icon too. She stills work for Preview magazine, but she’s now her ‘own brand.’

Fashion In Singapore:

Singapore practices the new trend called ‘athleisure.’ People dress for comfort. They like wearing stylish sneakers and clothes that are designed in a way that they move with you. I think it’s also because of the weather as it’s humid here.

What I Like About Singapore:

It’s easy to travel around. It’s also a society that is very welcoming and accepting towards different races and cultures. I haven’t experienced any racism here at all.

My Fashion Style:

Now that I’m older, I do not care about big brands anymore. It’s all about comfort, wearability, and showing who you are.

The Old Me Vs. The Present Me:

I don’t make hasty decisions anymore. Before, go lang kahit ano! But luckily, I still haven’t lost my sense of competitiveness and zest in life.

What If I Can Step Into The Shoes Of Another Modern Man? 

I would like to be Zac Efron. It would be interesting to know how he managed to stay relevant after all these years. His style is also impeccable — it’d be great to know if it’s innate or it’s curated by a great stylist. And most importantly, I’d love to know his fitness program.

About the Red Dot Juanderer:

We are constantly on the lookout for inspiring, aspirational, and relatable stories from our fellow Juans living and working in the Little Red Dot. If you know any Filipino in Singapore that should be our next Red Dot Juanderer, email us at [email protected] // Interviews and photos by Paolo Avis; Assisted by Jaypee Quitco

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