Before you delve into this interview with GRAZIA Singapore’s Editor-In-Chief Pakkee Tan (also known affectionately as PK by our fellow industry goers), we have to give you some context about him. This is the editor who for the past four years, has been spearheading titles and understanding the glamorous allure and methodical common sense (one hand clad in Cartier and Tiffany & Co charms the people and the other Apple watch-strapped one soothes even the most bureaucratic of directors) that has to come with the job.
And just before the magazine officially launches in March 2023, here, is an interview with Tan about its birth, present purpose, and future.
Hello Pakkee, it is crazy to imagine that our generation who was interning over a decade ago are all editors and, of course, still in the field. What would you tell your younger self who first started out?
It’s so surreal to look back on how far we’ve all come! I started out as a fashion blogger all those years ago and I could never have imagined the journey I’ve taken in Singapore’s media industry.
If I were to tell my younger self something, it would be this: Try to be nice to everyone you meet. The industry is too small and you need to help each other out as much as you can.
Every title you have worked at and edited was a glossy one and GRAZIA Singapore is to be included. Bt at the heart of it, what makes a “Pakkee Tan-led” magazine? What are some values that have been consistent in your career?
I think a strong work ethic, focusing on what’s next, and being unafraid to pursue a good story are values that have done me well throughout my career.
It’s hard to discuss your career without talking about how you’ve pioneered what it means to do digital in the context of a fashion magazine. What have you learnt over the course of your career?
I think we entered the industry at a time when digital was the place to be and I learnt so much from being part of some of the most memorable launches in Singapore.
I think what I learnt was to always focus on the details (it could be anything from cropping a picture by a few pixels, to checking your article twice), always have a backup of your work (you never know when the Internet gods will let you down), and be competitive—news breaks fast on the Internet and you need to know when, where and how to break the news accurately for the most impact.
Your first issue for GRAZIA Singapore will be the March 2023 one which traditionally, has always been the first fashion issue of the year. Without giving too much away, what are your plans for it?
Well, I can share that I want GRAZIA Singapore to be the most stylish, innovative and agenda-setting brand for the modern woman changing it all. We want to inspire and provoke our readers through bold, compelling content powered by purpose.
Whether it be interviews with editors abroad or within the local industry here, the talk of childhood always surfaces. Do you have a childhood memory that propelled you into taking your first step into the industry?
It’s not so much a childhood memory, but my parents like to tell me that when I turned one they did a traditional “zhua zhou” ceremony to see what I would choose for my future career. I picked a pen, so they always like to tell me that I already knew I was going to go into writing.
But I have to say that throughout my growing years, I’ve had the incredible support of teachers, friends and family who have always encouraged me to read, write and expand my literary horizons.
Within the last two years, the talk about diversity has been such a strong topic within the industry; almost like an awakening to the errors that have been committed. How are you planning to engineer GRAZIA Singapore for the future?
My main focus will be to celebrate the best of Asia — whether you are in Asia, from Asia, or are of Asian heritage — I want to spotlight Asian talent and bring them to the global stage.
Naturally, this will reflect the incredible range of what it means to be Asian: to that end, I want GRAZIA Singapore to have a strong, consistent focus on diversity across race, age and body size and to show that fashion today is truly for everyone.
It is quite the truth that editors now live different lives based on their jobs; editing a magazine, of course, being HR to their teams, thinking about stories in both a print and digital context, or even being a physical representation of their magazine. What skill sets do you think are important for the next generation of editors?
I think being able to think across different formats is crucial—print, digital, social media—and how you want to present your brand’s content in the way that makes the most impact on your audience.
Being open and adaptive is very important too: I always do research and follow different publications to see what types of content is working for them, what strategies they are employing and try to reverse engineer those strategies and content formats and make them work for me too.
Coming back to GRAZIA Singapore; every magazine has an ideal woman in their mind when they create the universe behind it. Who do you think is the GRAZIA Singapore woman and what kind of life does she live?
In my mind, the GRAZIA woman is a stylish, intelligent, curious woman who knows what she wants and is looking for new cult products and experiences. She is a thought leader in her circle of friends and always has the best recommendations and knows the right people to connect you with.
She is also well-travelled and knows how to enjoy the finer things in life, and wants to share those experiences with you.
Lastly, and a bit of a heavy question: what do you think is the purpose of a fashion magazine in a local context today? What could we, as an industry, be doing better?
I think the purpose of a fashion magazine continues to be to inspire its readers, but more so now, to also reflect and uplift the community it is situated in and, through that, to affect positive change in the world.
As an industry, I think in the last few years, Singapore’s fashion publishing industry has been making steps in the right direction, but they need to quicken the pace and keep up with modern audiences or be left behind.