With a background in retail merchandising and a passion for helping people discover their personal style, Singapore-based personal stylist Sera Murphy is on a mission to help others dress well and shop better.
Sera is revolutionising the way women in Singapore curate their closets through her venture The Reoutfitter, which combines styling and wardrobe consulting services with a highly curated e-commerce store which resells her clients' preloved pieces to reduce clothing waste.
In our conversation, Sera shares her insights into the common wardrobe challenges women face, the changing attitudes towards preloved clothing in Asia, and her recommendations for secondhand shopping in Singapore and Hong Kong. Read on to learn about her entrepreneurial journey, personal style, and the delicate balance she strikes between styling, sustainability, and family life.
Sera is wearing our upcycled cotton Wrapped Shirt Sage
Hey Sera! Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I come from a retail merchandising background. I started out in retail sales and then went on to production, inventory planning and buying for large retailers in the US. Most of my roles focused on international markets, so I was very aware of the challenges that presents in relation to overproduction and sustainability. I’m Korean-American, and never actually lived outside of the US until I moved to Singapore for the first time in 2010, but my cultural background always drew me to Asia – and now, I’ve lived in Asia for most of my adult life!
What was the spark behind the Reoutfitter?
I wanted to fall back in love with fashion after I took a break from work to have kids. Forcing other retail partners to overbuy didn’t match with my values, and as a super passionate person, it was very hard to swallow that and just continue it over and over. Personal styling was always my dream job; helping people find clothes they love comes naturally to me. The Reoutfitter was born when I figured out that I could do just that, while also helping to keep clothes out of the landfill through our curated shop.
As a personal stylist, what common issues do you find your clients in Singapore facing?
Everyone is unique, but an overarching theme I’ve noticed is self-doubt or loss of identity. I think as women, we’re pressured to always have our lives in perfect order: our careers, our families, our hobbies, and it’s easy to become side-tracked and lose our sense of style as we age and our bodies change. My goal is to help clients gain back confidence through clothes and find “themselves” again, or in new ways.
Do you feel attitudes toward secondhand clothing in Singapore are changing?
Yes, they’re absolutely changing for the better! It's been so wonderful to connect with people here who are passionate about buying secondhand. Sometimes, we get new customers because we have a unique piece, or something at a great price point. Isn’t that the fun of secondhand? We’ll notice those customers will always come back for more.
Sera Murphy shares her top tips for an aligned wardrobe.
Having lived in both Hong Kong and Singapore, do you have any shopping recommendations to share?
My favourite in Hong Kong is The Hula, which just opened a new showroom that I will be sure to visit when I return. I find Hong Kong secondhand shopping to be very special: you can find lots of beautiful, unique pieces from a plethora of designers. In Singapore, my favourites (outside of The Reoutfitter Shop!) are The Fifth Collection which has the best service I’ve ever experienced from an online retailer, and StyleTribute which has a showroom full of treasures. In Singapore the secondhand scene tends to favour certain designers over others, and unknown ones seem to be a harder sell. Perhaps there’s a bit more willingness to experiment in Hong Kong and more of the “tried and true” in Singapore. Of course, I can’t forget to mention Retykle where I get most of my kidswear, available in both countries.
What would be your top three tips for anyone who wants to create a more aligned and sustainable wardrobe?
First, focus on the basics. If you’re missing key pieces such as a great shirt or easy to pair bottoms, that’s a good place to start trying out sustainable labels or secondhand.
Second, try to stop “emergency shopping,” like when you rush into a store to buy something very quickly for a last-minute event. It’s the most dangerous kind of shopping because you’re likely filling a void that isn’t a true need.
Lastly, a “sustainable wardrobe” will never be sustainable if you’re not wearing it. It doesn’t matter if it is from fast fashion or an eco brand, if you don’t wear it, it’s not sustainable for YOU which is the most important thing.
As an entrepreneur, mother and wife, how do you strike a balance between styling, green advocacy and time with family?
I’m still learning as I go. Establishing and keeping boundaries is something I have mastered in my personal life and this year I have been applying it more to business. I try not to work weekends because my mental health will fail if I do. I take certain chunks of time away to spend time with my kids and become “unreachable,” which is quite hard to do when we’re always actively on social media. I remind myself that social media is a marketing tool, and not access to me 24/7.
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