The Things We Keep - Men's Folio
Culture, Lifestyle

The Things We Keep

  • By Vanessa Grace Ng

Things are never just things. There are always varying degrees of value that individuals ascribe to their belongings in ownership, and it is in the inklings of esteem, sentimentality and “good feelings” that material things can be elevated from humble objects to inheritable items.

What encourages the upkeep of a purchase? The tender safekeeping of an item once the day is done? What distinguishes a select few accessories to be promoted from object to heirloom? To be inherited and then boasted about for generations to come?

An heirloom begins with an affinity for a single object that in time sows legacy.Way beyond traditional conventions that monetary value or public perception define worth, an object is given “grail” status when true, pure affection is earned. Cultivated in even the most minuscule sentiments of utility, rarity, pride, sentimentality, the compounding effect sees an ordinary object lifted and esteemed into being beloved.

Likewise are “grails”, a term that has exploded in fashion’s consumer culture. Vague enough to shirk rigid definitions, “grails” encompass items that are highly sought after, cherished for a personal perspective, or “wants” for the near future. Blanket statement as it might be, the concept is simple — people love what they love, and that typically encompasses things that are pursued, maintained, kept and loved with intention.

For Nara, 38, there is a lot of love to go around. His fanboy love for John Lennon and Yoko Ono led him to acquire Lennon-favourite Hakusan frames, and Ono-inspired pins. His personality — which oscillates between states of sentimentality and pragmatism (he’s a Gemini!) — has also birthed a fascination with watches, art pieces and collectibles. But to the art advisor, his Patek Philippe is unrivalled in value — not for the price it could fetch, but instead for being a hand-me-down heirloom. Justin Neo views it differently. There are wants and then there are needs — to him, a grail is likely to fall into the latter category. “They should fulfil some sort of purpose beyond being good looking,” says the 23-year-old. Just like his laissez-faire attitude in spending —he has no qualms on forking out good money for good product — the stylist believes that the objects to be held dear are such because of the craftsmanship and quality inits make.

Men’s Folio sets out to understand what thus constitutes value. Across multiple industries, generations and stages of life, eight individuals propose things from their personal collections that are to them, a prized possession.

(Pictured above) Nicole Wong, Creative Director of NPLUSC
With an ongoing growing collection of Maison Margiela’s Tabis, my 2018 Vitamin Print Tabi takes the cake. This was my first pair, and I’ve never seen anyone else with this 1950s-vitamin-box inspired pair. I wanted a unique piece before building my collection with basics so it’s a memorable one.

Justin Neo, 23, Stylist
This is the only pair of Guidi’s that I have and the only pair I want. It does its job — it’s elegant, street and quite versatile. And mostly it’s just a favourite because it’s reliable. I don’t really care for material things, and how worn these are is a good example of that

Parveen Hassanbhai, 36, Public Relations
The Simone Rocha egg bags are my cherished possessions, embodying my style and complementing my eclectic fashion taste. I embrace high-end street style and I also love Simone Rocha — she’s one of my favourite designers alongside CDG, Cecilie Bahnsen, Martine Rose and Noir Kei Ninomiya. And it helps that these two bags were birthday gifts from my closest friends and partner.

Nara, 38, Art Advisor
Patek’s slogan is “You merely look after it for the next generation”. This is a women’s watch — my mum’s — and it has the most sentimental value to me because it is a hand-me-down. Ever since I got it, this has been my go-to, my daily watch. I have another Patek that I got as a graduation gift.

Gladys Ng, 24, Fashion Student
The Vivienne Westwood cream-coloured lighter and portable ashtray were birthday gifts from my best friend who went to Japan to get them. I kept mentioning the heart-shaped lighter (which I later got) and she remembered.

Haikal Affendy, 25, Graphic Designer
This sweater holds a certain value to me because I got it during my time working at Prada — reminds me of an eye-opening experience there. I also particularly love the contrasting pink Prada symbol at the back of the garment

Ashley Chiam, 41, Interior Designer and Founder of Supper House
In terms of meaningful, this is my wedding outfit and the first Comme Des Garçons piece that I owned. These items were really the seed of my collection and Supper House — I guess that’s important enough!

Alif Sianipar, 26, Barber
This pair of Prada boots is my favourite at the moment as I feel the most confident when I’m wearing it. It’s my first luxury purchase, and it is unique but subtle enough to elevate any outfit I throw on any day. And a pair of black boots can never go wrong.

Photography Beng
Styling Vanessa Grace Ng
Photography Assistant Rigg Ngo

Once you are done with this story, click here to catch up with our March 2024 issue.