Continuing our mini series with DFS Changi Airport, we sat down with Nelson Yap, owner of Benjamin Barker, as he shed light about his business and to play a game of ring toss to select spirits he would like to gift for the year-end festivities.
Alcohol selections from DFS Changi Airport:
From left to right: Chivas Regal 18 Years Old, Smirnoff Red No. 21 Vodka, Pessac-Léognan de Carbonnieux, Glenfiddich Grand Cru, Baileys Irish Cream, Whitley Neill Lemongrass & Ginger Gin, Royal Salute 21 Years Old Lost Blend, SAITO Premium Junmai Sake, Château Clinet Pomerol by Clinet, Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC
What made you start Benjamin Barker?
Benjamin Barker started as a means to an end. My dad owned a garment business. Unfortunately, he came down with illness and I took over the business which was in a bad financial state. Two years in, I realised it wasn’t working out, so I decided to start Benjamin Barker. Things turned around and we felt very blessed to see it grow and evolve over the past decade to where it is today.
What are your biggest challenges faced when starting Benjamin Barker?
We had limited resources and were very much considered underdogs. It was really hard to get into malls. However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise – forcing us to constantly think out of the box and be creative.
Where do you see the direction of menswear heading?
Firstly, I would categorise men’s fashion into three groups. Fast Fashion, Fashion and Classic. Benjamin Barker focuses on classic, evergreen pieces paying tribute to traditional tailoring. Thus, instead of looking at where the trend is going (typically in circles), we focus on modern fabrication and advance manufacturing techniques and delivering it with a boutique experience.
How did the concept of Assembly Ground came about?
Here’s the origin story — there was an opportunity to set up a flagship store at The Cathay back in 2014, I convinced an ex-housemate from Australia to join me in business, it was a project to pursue our passion. He studied the art of making pizza in Naples while I fell in love with making coffee during my time as a barista in Melbourne. We thought Assembly Ground was the perfect place to marry our passions together.
Who do you count as your style icons?
Cary Grant, Paul Newman and Ralph Lauren
What does the year-end festivities mean to you?
It’s a time for gathering with loved ones to celebrate, reflect and be grateful for the year and to plan for next year’s vision.
How do you celebrate the year-end festivity?
We will do two things — a family trip to make sure the kids are happy and a personal trip where I usually plan for a snowboarding trip.
What is your fondest memory of Christmas?
Two years ago when I was in New York with my in-laws, bracing the freezing cold at seven am while waiting for a live audience recording of Good Morning America!
What is your go-to party drink?
Probably a Negroni. It’s a drink I can drink non-stop and be okay to entertain.
If all else fails?
It will always be the classic Old Fashioned.
What spirits from DFS would you like to gift your best friend, a family member, and partner?
I would gift the Royal Salute 21 year old to my good buddy Eugene, because he is one of the rare, classic gentlemen that I know in Singapore.
My wife is a big fan of Japanese sake, I would love to share the Saito Premium Junmai with her.
I would pick the Pomerol by Clinet for myself to go along with a nice piece of steak.
What would a Nelson Yap cocktail comprise of?
It will be a variation of the Old Fashioned. I would make it smokier and more intense. It would be nice to go along with a nice piece of steak.
What is a severely underrated spirit?
Probably rum. I don’t see it very much over here in Singapore. Back in Melbourne Australia, a nice spiced rum is perfect to wind down at the end of an evening.
What is your go-to party trick?
I would be most happy behind the bar. Concocting drinks or cooking a mean steak.
What are you looking forward to in 2020?
I am very much looking forward to new opportunities and ventures. We are focusing on going international this year while expanding our F&B business.
From today till the 31st of December, enjoy further 10% off DFS Changi Airport Products on these platforms:
- Further 10% Off* Wines and Spirits when you travel on iShopChangi.com.
- Further 10% Off Tax and Duties absorbed^ Wines, Champagnes and Sakes on iShopChangiWInes.com, without the need to travel.
*T&Cs Applies (There is no minimum spend but it is capped at $50). ^To be absorbed by DFS Changi Airport (No minimum spend or cap).
Photography Jeff Chang
Styling Wilson Lim
Outfit BB Tailors by Benjamin Barker E.Thomas Wool, silk, linen-blend jacket, linen shirt, Serafine silk tie