Surrender: 40 Days in Jakarta
Taking a look at Surrender's Jakarta retail concept
For many menswear enthusiasts in Jakarta, Singapore’s Surrender is a familiar name. The shop has housed many favorite brands and designers ever since it opened its doors 8 years ago in Scotts Road’s Far East Plaza and has since become not only a store, but also an institution where the latest and the best in menswear is exhibited. Surrender’s approach is a personal one, with its production selection reflecting the taste and vision of its founder, Earn Chen.
Bringing that concept to Jakarta, Surrender recently opened its doors in Plaza Senayan in the form of a pop up shop. The temporary store is open for only 40 days, but in that limited time frame it seeks to introduce and educate its visitors to brands that most Jakartan’s are unfamiliar with. Carrying a variety of items from brands such as Thom Browne, Omnigod, Brooklyn Tailor, and WTAPs, the temporary shop is described by Nicholas Schaefer, Earn Chen’s partner in this Jakarta venture, as an idealist one and a labor of love – a place that puts the quality of its items and presentation before profit. With our short interview with Earn Chen revealing that there is indeed plans for future Surrender projects based in Jakarta, this 40-day store gives us a taste of what’s to come.
Whiteboard Journal (W) had the opportunity to visit the shop on its opening day in Plaza Senayan’s ground floor, and spoke with Surrender’s Earn Chen (E), before it opened its doors to the public. The shop’s founder just arrived in Jakarta during a particularly brutal rainfall and flood, but graciously gave us insights into why he decided to open Surrender in Jakarta, the concept and philosophy behind the shop, and what the future holds for Surrender.
Just real quick, what made you interested in setting up a shop here in Jakarta? And how did the temporary shop concept come about?
I have always been interested in a South East Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Bangkok, because South East Asia, for me being from Singapore, the rest of South East Asia – we are one, you know, as compared to Hong Kong or China, for instance. It’s a different culture when we talk about South East Asia. People in South East Asia, they are more culture-inclined, musically inclined. It’s kind of different from China, even for Hong Kong.
Would you say in this area then – Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, people are similar?
Yea, we have similar culture, similar taste, and normally what comes first is music and culture. Subculture, I think it’s really strong in South East Asia, and for me the first place to start is Jakarta because we [Surrender] have a lot of fans here and we have a lot of customers here as well. When they come in to the store, they have good taste, they know exactly what they are talking about, the music taste as well.
Why is it a temporary shop? Why not a permanent one?
Well, basically me and Nick just spoke about it real fast and it only took us about two or three months to put it together. So he’s telling me about this spot [Plaza Senayan] and I said great, let’s do it. and me and Nick, we’ve known each other for a long time so when he says we’re ready, then I know we’re ready.
To answer your previous question, it’s a great spot, but we’re still looking for a permanent spot.
So I guess in the future, we can look forward to a Surrender in Jakarta?
Definitely, in fact, I am going to Paris next week to buy for Jakarta as well, it will be interesting, introducing new designers, new stuff.
Have you spent a lot of time in Jakarta?
No, I have not. The last time I was here, it was probably like two decades ago. But my mom is from Medan, so I have been coming here since I was a kid. I’m drawn to Indonesia.
You have a concept store in Shanghai as well, and now you are opening up in Jakarta. It seems you are expanding Surrender, is there any future plans to open more Surrender(s)?
Well, no plans for world domination, but we just want to do different thing. Our concept store in Shanghai is a bit different. It’s a more premium shop, which is suitable for China and at the same time different premium from what other people are doing there. So for different countries we take different approaches.
But the core for us, our roots – as you may know, one of our founder is James Lavelle, and we come from a music background, so we always come back to something related to that, the culture, the music, and I think that’s the only way for us to grow.
Max [Whiteboard Journal’s Editor in Chief] was telling us that you are really into music as well, do you see any relationship between music and the stuff that you do in terms of Surrender? What kind of music do you listen to?
Yea definitely. Well, basically I listen to all kind of music, there’s no certain kind of music genre that we’re talking about. For instance, the shop sometimes we might play pop, but most of the times right now, because I’m really into jazz right now, the store just plays jazz and stuff.
Last one, did Surrender grow organically or did you have a concept at the beginning that you want to execute?
In the beginning when I first started in Singapore we had this mall called Far East Plaza. It is a great place for young entrepreneurs to start, it’s got a very strong subculture atmosphere to it. The mall has special meaning to me, so when I first started my own shop, I wanted it to be there. So we chose a spot and it grew from there. In the beginning , we wanted it to be very Japanese, very Harajuku style.
So all the brands we stocked are all in Japanese style. We were very inspired by what’s happening in Tokyo, so we wanted to do the same. But after a while, we kind of like “oh, that’s pretty nice piece from London” and we picked it up, and we ended up picking up what ever we like. So it’s no longer a concept that we kind of created, it just go along the way. So we don’t have to create a certain thing, we don’t have to imitate anymore, we have to pursuit on our own thing.
It was good at that time (Far East), I still miss that store a lot. It’s got a beautiful gallery and great artworks all the time. A lot of people couldn’t understand what we were doing. They were like, “why?”, when they walked into the store, in a mall like that. I remember one newspaper article that wrote that “you got a big space, but only one rack hanging” and everyone was like “no, it is not gonna happen for you” – so we’ve come pretty far.
Just one more thing, I read a couple of your profiles online, and it says “Have.Love.Will.Travel.” Can you tell us what that means?
Well because I do travel a lot, and it [Have Love Will Travel] is a song from The Sonics, a 60’s garage band. It makes a lot of sense to me and I can relate to that because for me, I have always been moving. So it’s wherever I go – whether I go to Tokyo, Paris or London, Bangkok, Indonesia, or even Shanghai, with friends, family, it doesn’t matter where you go, it’s all the same.
So you feel like at home anywhere?
Exactly, that’s what’s important.
“40 Days in Jakarta”
A Temporary Retail Concept
Ground Floor, Unit 171C