Benjamin Barker

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The Benjamin Barker logo.

Benjamin Barker is a Singaporean owned fashion label that specialises in classic and vintage menswear. Founded by Nelson Yap in 2007, The business was incorporated on 4 March 2009. As of September 2019, Benjamin Barker has 10 retail outlets in Singapore.[1] The brand also retails overseas in countries like Australia and Cambodia.[2]

Origins

Nelson Yap, the founder of Benjamin Barker. Photo from The Straits Times.

The name ‘Benjamin Barker’ was inspired by a sermon that founder, Nelson Yap, had attended. The sermon was about the state of living in the Benjamin Generation — likened to a generation of grace.[3] ‘Benjamin’ was also a biblical name that means ‘son of the south’. This was a reflection of Nelson’s time spent in Australia. The name ‘Barker’ was inspired by a type of leather.[4][5]


Nelson Yap's family owned a struggling discount suit company. While working at the family business, Nelson decided to start Benjamin Barker after his father's death from cancer.[6]

Founder

Nelson Yap is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Benjamin Barker. He studied at the University of Melbourne and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Arts, Cinematography and Film/video Production. Before Benjamin Barker, Nelson Yap worked various part-time jobs from being a barista to a courier.[7][8]


After his graduation in 2005, he wanted to be a full-time film-maker.[9] Nelson did his graduate studies in Business IT before switching to Accounting to help run the family business.[10]

Brand history

Benjamin Barker suits. Photo from Buro.

Initial start-up

Nelson Yap had faced large inertia during the initial phase of the Benjamin Barker brand. To finance the first Marina Square outlet in 2009, his mother had to remortgage the house for a S$100,000 loan. Nelson had to negotiate the store’s rent with the mall’s leasing department which led to over 10 discussions.[11]


In 2011, Suntec City Convention Centre underwent major renovations. During this period, foot traffic at the mall decreased by more than half the usual amount. The renovation cost Benjamin Barker potential sales revenue and forced the brand to relocate its store.[12]

Growth in Singapore

The counter of the Benjamin Barker cafe at Cathay Cineleisure.

Throughout the years, Benjamin Barker has amassed up to 10 store outlets in both downtown and suburban areas of Singapore. In 2019, the label mentioned the opening of an additional store at the recently renovated Funan mall.[13][14] As of 2019, the brand has more than 70 employees and brings in an estimated figure of S$10 million in annual revenue.[15][16]

Labour shortage

In an interview with a local radio station, 89.3FM, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Damien Tan mentioned that the public perception of sales roles in the retail industry remains negative.[17]


Benjamin Barker participated in a study by Enterprise Singapore and Workforce Singapore (WSG) to redefine employee job scopes and to increase job attraction and retention.[18] To improve employee service quality, the company invested in one-on-one coaching sessions for each service staff.[19]


Benjamin Barker uses data analytics and technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Beacon Technology and Virtual Reality to cope with the labour shortage.[20] Damien Tan explained that the company spends 10 to 15 per cent of its annual revenue testing out new technologies.[21] The decision helped to enhance workflow processes from storefront sales to backend logistics and improve overall customer satisfaction.[22]

Overseas expansion

As of 2019, Benjamin Barker has stores in Melbourne, Australia and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The label has also been stocked at Pocket Square Clothing in Los Angeles and Robinsons at Shoppes at Four Seasons Place in Kuala Lumpur.[23]

Brand & store concept

The storefront of Benjamin Barker's flagship store at Cathay Cineleisure. Photo from SG Magazine.

The brand’s logo was designed by the design firm, &Larry. The 2 overlapping letter “B”s denote the versatility of the brand. It highlights the brand’s ability to combine modern and traditional style aspects through creative visuals, fabrics and colour themes. The logotype design aimed to emulate a sense of boldness and confidence, complementing the logo.[24]

Store design

Benjamin Barker stores are decorated with various keepsakes and knick-knacks — from vinyl record players to typewriters. These design details were meant to give each store a unique personality with a nostalgic and vintage atmosphere. To enhance customer experience, the stores have automated scent dispensers filled with customized fragrances.[25]


The brand has delved into lifestyle concept spaces with its 3-level flagship store at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard. The space is made up of the Benjamin Barker cafe, the retail space and the tailoring house, BB tailors.[26][27]

Product lines

Some pieces from Benjamin Barker's women's line - Red Label. Photo from Her World.

Benjamin Barker offers a wide range of men’s shirts, suits and accessories. The label focuses on classic designs with high-quality workmanship. Each shirt is inspired by European design but completed with Japanese cutting techniques to better suit the Asian build.[28] Nelson Yap shared that the Benjamin Barker team had “toured Japan, tore their suits and shirts apart, and learnt how they cut their clothes differently” to develop the brand’s product line.[29]

B by Benjamin

The brand has released various collections including collaborations with Star Wars.[30] The label has a casual wear collection called ‘B by Benjamin’ to fill a need for quality everyday clothing.[31][32]

Red Label

Prompted by female customers who were buying men’s shirts and tailoring them to suit their sizes, the brand has also ventured into womenswear.[33][34] In August 2018, Benjamin Barker launched a new line of womenswear called ‘Red Label’. The label offers a product selection to women seeking a dapper style aesthetic.[35]

Awards & accolades

Year Organization/Event Title Notes
2019 Reader’s Choice Awards Office Wear (Men’s)[36] 3rd Place
2017 WIPO-IPOS IP Awards IPOS Award for IP Champions[37][38][39]
2017 Singapore Fashion Awards Best Marketing Award[40]
2016 Emerging Enterprise Awards Winner[41] Received S$500,00 worth of consultancy services, education programmes and business development support

Past events

Dates Event Description
2017 The Golden Circle Challenge[42] The challenge was organised in  collaboration with Macallan. The mini scavenger hunt activity was themed around the release of the Kingsman movie.
2016 Benjamin Barker x Fender Fashion show at Zouk featuring Fall/Winter’16 and “B by Benjamin Barker” collection

References / Citations

  1. “About”. Facebook. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/BenjaminBarkerStore/about/?ref=page_internal
  2. “Benjamin Barker Aust Pte. Ltd.”. SGP Business. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.sgpbusiness.com/company/Benjamin-Barker-Aust-Pte-Ltd
  3. Yeo, Renald. “Leap of faith leads to Benjamin Barker menswear label”. The Straits Times. August 26, 2016. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/leap-of-faith-leads-to-benjamin-barker-menswear-label
  4. Foo, Charmaine. “Tailored For Purpose”. SELAH. May 20, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.selah.sg/tailored-for-purpose/
  5. Woo, Alyssa. “The Life Interview with Benjamin Barker’s Nelson Yap: Making it in menswear”. The Straits Times. June 5, 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/menswear-maven
  6. Foo, Charmaine. “Tailored For Purpose”. SELAH. May 20, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.selah.sg/tailored-for-purpose/
  7. “Nelson Yap”. Linkedin. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nelson-yap-00376682/?originalSubdomain=sg
  8. Woo, Alyssa. “Benjamin Barker’s Nelson yap: Making it in menswear”. The Straits Times. June 5, 2017. Accessed on Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.sgsme.sg/news/towkays/benjamin-barkers-nelson-yap-making-it-menswear
  9. Woo, Alyssa. “The Life Interview with Benjamin Barker’s Nelson Yap: Making it in menswear”. The Straits Times. June 5, 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/menswear-maven
  10. Woo, Alyssa. “The Life Interview with Benjamin Barker’s Nelson Yap: Making it in menswear”. The Straits Times. June 5, 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/menswear-maven
  11. Yeo, Renald. “Leap of faith leads to Benjamin Barker menswear label”. The Straits Times. August 26, 2016. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/leap-of-faith-leads-to-benjamin-barker-menswear-label
  12. “Style with plenty of substance”. The Straits Times. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://brandinsider.straitstimes.com/retailers-capabilities/style-with-plenty-of-substance/
  13. Teh, Shi Ning. “Going beyond sharp suits”. The Business Times. August 27, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Accessed on: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/hub/e50-spotlight/going-beyond-sharp-suits
  14. “Store Locator”. Benjamin Barker. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.benjaminbarker.co/a/storelocator
  15. “Nelson Yap”. Linkedin. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nelson-yap-00376682/?originalSubdomain=sg
  16. Woo, Alyssa. “The Life Interview with Benjamin Barker’s Nelson Yap: Making it in menswear”. The Straits Times. June 5, 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/menswear-maven
  17. “Money FM podcast: Mind Your Business: What successful digitalisation looks like”. The Business Times. February 22, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/consumer/money-fm-podcast-mind-your-business-what-successful-digitalisation-looks-like
  18. “Retail Job Redesign Framework launched to support retailers in redesigning jobs as they digitalise and adopt technology”. SkillsFuture Singapore. June 29, 2018. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/news-and-announcements/29-jun-2018.html
  19. Teh, Shi Ning. “Going beyond sharp suits”. The Business Times. August 27, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Accessed on: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/hub/e50-spotlight/going-beyond-sharp-suits
  20. Taylor, James. “Augmenting creativity with AI can take us much further”. The Business Times. May 10, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/augmenting-creativity-with-ai-can-take-us-much-further
  21. “Money FM podcast: Mind Your Business: What successful digitalisation looks like”. The Business Times. February 22, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/consumer/money-fm-podcast-mind-your-business-what-successful-digitalisation-looks-like
  22. Teh, Shi Ning. “Going beyond sharp suits”. The Business Times. August 27, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Accessed on: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/hub/e50-spotlight/going-beyond-sharp-suits
  23. "About”. Benjamin Barker. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/pg/BenjaminBarkerStore/about/?ref=page_internal
  24. “Benjamin Barker”. &Larry. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: http://andlarry.com/work/benjamin-barker
  25. Russell, Edward. “Benjamin Barker: Founder Nelson Yap shares the secrets of his success with his tailoring and suiting business”. Buro. August 11, 2016. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.buro247.sg/fashion/mens/singapore-tailor-benjamin-barker-nelson-yap.html  
  26. “A Lifestyle Destination: Benjamin Barker Café“. Sky Premium International. January 23, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.skypremium.com.sg/sg/news-media/media-releases/lifestyle-destination-benjamin-barker-cafe
  27. “Benjamin Barker: Menswear Flagship Store and Cafe at Orchard Cineleisure”. Vanilla Luxury. September 4, 2018. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.vanillaluxury.sg/magazine/benjamin-barker-menswear-flagship-store-and-cafe-orchard-cineleisure
  28. Woo, Alyssa. “The Life Interview with Benjamin Barker’s Nelson Yap: Making it in menswear”. The Straits Times. June 5, 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/menswear-maven
  29. Russell, Edward. “Benjamin Barker: Founder Nelson Yap shares the secrets of his success with his tailoring and suiting business”. Buro. August 11, 2016. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.buro247.sg/fashion/mens/singapore-tailor-benjamin-barker-nelson-yap.html
  30. “Star Wars X Benjamin Barker”. Benjamin Barker. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.benjaminbarker.co/pages/star-wars-x-bb
  31. Yiew, Kai Jie. “Benjamin Barker x Fender: A Night of Style and Music”. Luxe Society. November 21, 2016. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://luxesocietyasia.com/style/benjamin-barker-x-fender-a-night-of-style-and-music/
  32. “Gettin’ Our groove On with Benjamin Barker x Fender”. The Good Folks. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.thegoodfolks.com.sg/portfolio-item/gettin-our-groove-on-with-benjamin-barker-x-fender-2/
  33. Sim, Andrea. “Singapore label Benjamin Barker Now Has A Line For Ladies, And It’s Everything You’ll Need To Power Dress”. Female. September 5, 2018. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.femalemag.com.sg/fashion/benjamin-barker-singapore-suits-shirts-jackets-women-red-label/
  34. Ho, Guo Xiong. “Power Dressing Just Got Easier With This New Option In Town”. Her World. December 12, 2018. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.herworld.com/fashion/must-read/benjamin-barker-red-label-women-office-wear-blazer-suit-shirts
  35. Boen, Henry. “Ladies, It’s Time to Get Suited Up at Benjamin Barker”. Luxe Society. September 3, 2018. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://luxesocietyasia.com/style/ladies-its-time-to-get-suited-up-at-benjamin-barker/
  36. “Here are the winners of the Readers’ Choice Awards 2019”. Expat Living. April 24, 2019. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://expatliving.sg/here-are-the-winners-of-the-readers-choice-awards-2019/
  37. “Winners of WIPO-OPOS IP Awards 2017”. Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ipos.gov.sg/docs/default-source/media-events-docs/press-releases/press-release---ip-week-2017---annex-a.pdf
  38. “Ipos and Deloitte to nurture 100 companies through IP commercialisation”. Today. August 29, 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/business/ipos-and-deloitte-nurture-100-companies-through-ip-commercialisation
  39. Chia, Yan Min. “Firms to get help with their IP efforts abroad”. The Straits Times. August 30, 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/firms-to-get-help-with-their-ip-efforts-abroad
  40. Seah, May. “Carrie K receives multiple honours at Singapore Fashion Awards 2017”. The Straits Times. November 24, 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/carrie-k-receives-multiple-honours-at-singapore-fashion-awards-2017
  41. Yeo, Renald. “Women behind EE winner’s success”. The Business Times. September 19, 2016. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/women-behind-ee-winners-success
  42. “The golden Circle Challenge”. Benjamin Barker. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.benjaminbarker.co/pages/the-golden-circle-challenge