Conversations // Adele Chan


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I spent a lot (really, a lot) of the money I earned from giving tuition in university on magazines. The magazine stack (and then stacks, and stacks) started with fashion reads before architecture and design topics took over. There were the local magazines, then following, the graduation to Vogue. And then, I discovered Nylon. Nylon! There was something so different, fresh and sparkly about the way the content talked about and presented fashion that its nondescript name belies. It was a little irreverent, but fun; cool yet accessible (the Vogue stacks, eventually, had to go, but I kept a 15-inch pile of Nylon; a memory of my youth preserved).

Also fun and cool is Adele Chan, Editor-in-Chief of Nylon Sg. Adele’s the perfect person to helm the magazine. Her adventurous spirit for fashion, design and life oozes from its pages and yet, she ‘s equally down-to-earth; we’re always inspired. Adele is also mother to little Keira—who always looks as good as mom—and will soon welcome another little mini me.

We’re stoked she has agreed to answer some of our questions on Playground regarding her creative and personal journey as magazine editor and mom, as well as share some dreamy travel photographs. Wanderlusting already.

Tell me about your creative journey, on how you came into publishing and your stint as Managing Editor of Nylon.

The business of media and publishing, in particular, was always interesting to me; it was a business that I knew I wouldn’t be bored with, so I started reading up about how it operated. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn yourself when probably motivated! I actually started on the operations side of things, such as figuring out how money is made in media, because without money, how do you really do anything, right? Then I learned about the printing and distribution—how that worked—and then what constitutes good content in terms of editorial and page layout. And I picked up writing through reading A LOT of articles from international publications, and eventually, editing, and even design. I believe that if you want to be successful in something, and lead others as well, you need to understand and know how every aspect of the business works. Then you’ll never be an a disadvantage. People come and go, so you need to know how to handle their part of the job if they’re not around. Right now I’m getting serious about photography—travel and lifestyle photography in particular. It helps that I truly enjoy everything that I’m doing in my job as the Editor-in-Chief of NYLON; there’s a lot of freedom to be creative and innovate.

What were your favourite magazines growing up?

The Face, Flaunt, Marie Claire, Elle, and of course – NYLON.

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We love what you’re doing with Nylon Sg. The covers are always awesome. What is your favourite part about working on each issue?

The cover of course! Our cover girl is always someone special; an inspiring personality that the readers can relate to. I love designing the actual cover of each issue, what I call ‘the money shot’ because your magazine is really as good as its cover. You can have fantastic content but with a boring cover, no one’s going to even pick it up. Apart from the cover, I love our travel spreads. Who doesn’t love travel, right?

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You travel a lot for work. What are some of the best places you have been to? Can you share some favourite experiences that have inspired you creatively?

London has an incredibly creative vibe. Just being there, you feel more creative. Could be the gritty streets, the punk dressing, and the rock-and-roll music in every corner pub, but the whole scene is so different from Singapore—and I suppose that’s what makes it exciting.

Antwerp is surreal; everyone dresses the same (all in black, except the tourists, of course), and the architecture and overall design of everything in the city is wonderfully charming or minimal. If you love cleanly-designed products and fashion, then Antwerp is like heaven.

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Then there’s Tokyo, where even the convenience stores are amazing. It’s true, the Japanese improve on everything! And it’s easy to be creatively inspired when you’re surrounded by clever design everywhere.

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What are the biggest challenges in balancing motherhood, work life, being a wife and time to yourself?

I switch off after work hours (for NYLON, that’s between 6.30-7pm). I make it a point to spend time with the family every single night. If there’s work to do, I pick it up again when the kid is asleep. I also use my leave to do something special with the family; could be the zoo in Singapore or Disneyland in Hong Kong.

What’s a typical day for you like, from morning to night?

Wake up, check email (terrible habit), coffee, then either head into office or attend meetings and whatever is up for that day—could be photoshoots, events, sales pitches, editing articles, researching on articles, editorial discussions with the team, strategising social media, anything really. Then home by 8pm, spend time with the family, have some ‘me time’ (usually includes ice cream), sleep.

Fashion is a big part of your life. What are your favourite brands and what brands do you like to dress Keira in?

Me: Saint Laurent, Chanel, Maison Margiela, Balmain, Muji.

Keira: Muji baby

You’re so busy during the week. What are your favourite activities to do with Keira on weekends?

Shopping malls, ice cream, playground, parks, waffles. This weekend I’m planning on checking out Gardens By The Bay (I’ve never been there and I really should).

Please continue this sentence: Play to me is:

Therapeutic, full of positivity, and most fun when done with people you love.

 + photo credit: Adele Chan

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