As a marketer who has worked for Adidas for over five years, Marcus Chew’s passion for slick sneakers seems almost inevitable. But even after his move to the decidedly less flashy world of insurance as chief marketing officer of NTUC Income, Chew is still bringing a little sartorial flair to the workplace. That Paul Smith-clad swagger is backed by a hands-on leadership style and fearlessness in the face of risk.
I have more than a hundred pairs of sneakers.
That’s far more shoes than my wife has. I own many from Adidas, Nike and Asics but it’s the collaborations that I really love, because they’re all about the details. Examples include the Nike x Acronym with the latter’s signature large zippers, and Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang and Virgil Abloh from Off-white. I do most of my shopping online and I keep up with sneaker news by subscribing to blogs and websites, but I have to be more selective now, because I’m running out of room.
Wardrobe essentials are a nicely cut jacket and a pocket square to keep it interesting. When I was in London, I saw all these window displays showing off suits from Hugo Boss, Zegna and Dior but they all looked the same. So what you can do to make the look your own is to throw in a pocket square or a lapel pin and just play around with the outfit. It’s important to have fun with your shoes, too, but get tapered pants if you’re going to show them off.
Don’t stick to what you’re comfortable with.
Try different things, see what happens and don’t worry about what people say. The perfect fit doesn’t even matter that much anymore since oversized items can look stylish these days. But I think the best trick is to get a really good pair of sneakers. Your outfit may be drab but, as long as your sneakers pop, you’re fashionable.
Judging people based on what they wear is a bit harsh.
But I think people who bother to dress well show that they care about the little things. If you can’t even be bothered to look presentable, then what do you care about?
Youth development is a cause that’s close to my heart.
My family wasn’t poor, but I’ve had friends who didn’t have enough money to go to school. I once borrowed $500 from my father and combined it with my own savings of $500 to lend to a friend so he could pay his school fees. At that moment, I thought: “This isn’t something that should be happening. Education should be a basic necessity.” So I started the Future Development Programme at NTUC Income, and it supports tertiary students from the lowest income households in Singapore. So far we have spent about $2.5 million on over 1,000 beneficiaries.
Running relaxes me.
I’m working towards being a Six Star Finisher for the World Marathon Majors and I just have New York and Boston left. It’s true what they say: you learn about life from running a marathon. I’ve run 11 of them; each one taught me something different. The most important lesson is that everything will pass. I was at the 17km mark in a Tokyo marathon when I thought I couldn’t go on anymore, but I told myself it’s okay to run slower and, after another kilometre, I felt better and wound up hitting my personal best. So don’t give up when you’re down, because it always gets better.
PHOTOGRAPHY TAN WEI TE & ZAPHS ZHANG ART DIRECTION FAZLIE HASHIM