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Mar 5, 2022

Coming into her own with Sophiea Tupaz

You've seen her on our campaigns, Sophiea Tupaz is the face of our brand. From the beginning of our pivot into apparel in 2020, Sophiea has lent a fresh perspective to batik and how it can be worn. Her elegant body language and expressions are a joy to watch on set, and it must be said that watching the people we work with grow into their own is a humbling experience.

We sit down with Sophiea recently, where this wordsmith never fails to delight us with her intelligence and keen observations of the world, and her relationships with the people in it.

Batik Cocoon Shirt | Burgundy Parang

Batik Cocoon Shirt | Aman

Dear Sophiea, you have been the face of our brand for some time, journeying with us from when we launched our first few apparel collections.

I remember our first conversation on set was a multitude of topics, from how you were juggling a law diploma and freelance modeling, to your lineage as a Eurasian. Firstly, tell us about the drive behind your passion for modeling.

Sophiea: Modeling offers a platform for my creativity to run wild. I get to play around with expressing all sorts of emotions, experiment with subtle to dramatic poses, see myself in different styles of clothing and makeup. Funnily enough, when I was about 5, I was offered a contract with a modelling agency but I was an extremely shy kid and could not go through with it. 

Batik Open Jacket | Bata

I also remember expressing my surprise about how you are considered plus-size in the local model industry. While Gypsied advocates for representation of everyday body types, it is inaccurate to say we picked you solely for the purposes of representation. Your skills as a model and values as a person are at the heart of the matter. What are your thoughts on being categorised as a plus-sized model?

Sophiea: Thank you. It has been such a joy to work alongside the intelligent, beautiful and talented people behind Gypsied. I think the industry shoehorns models into either being straight-cut or plus-size. As we all know, people come in all shapes and sizes. For the sake of streamlining castings, this might come in handy because there is always a visual story to tell in every photoshoot and casting directors often have an idea as to what sort of features will most aptly marry their story. I wear the curve-model badge proudly on my hips and I don't think a model should be respected any less for being one or the other. 

 "I think the industry shoehorns models into either being straight-cut or plus-size. As we all know, people come in all shapes and sizes."

- Sophiea Tupaz

Batik Long Line Vest | Satria

Let's talk a little about your day job as a Legal Executive. This line of work means possessing a strong dedication to justice, and you are immersed in various degrees of legal proceedings daily. Which groups of people in Singapore do you feel most passionate to represent and why?

Sophiea: I vehemently defend victims who have suffered abuse -whether sexual, physical or mental. These are the innocent who have been wronged and have managed to muster up the courage to turn over a new leaf. They are brave and resilient. More often than not, they are also kind-hearted and do not seek revenge, but simply a decent quality of life. And so, they deserve nothing less than our genuine empathy and steadfast help. The greatest reward is watching them flourish afterwards.

Batik Crop Top | Semula Ocean

Can you share with us about your lineage, and in what ways you practice traditions from your family and heritage?

Sophiea: I am Eurasian and my roots are Arab, British, Chinese and Portugese. My paternal grandmother is Teochew while my mother’s family hails from Yemen, and my paternal grandfather is of Portuguese and British descent.

I have been blessed with a colourful upbringing filled with flavours from the Middle East, Europe and Asia. My family loves to eat and I fully endorse keeping heritage alive through cooking and eating together. It's also a lot of fun to be able to celebrate Chinese New Year, Eid and Christmas with loved ones too. Our language is another tradition that continues to be passed down. We all speak English as a first language but some of my family members speak Kristang, some Mandarin and others Arabic. 

How do these different identities impact your growth as a person, and how you view yourself? Have you ever felt conflicted or confused? 

Sophiea:
"You are the poster child of racial harmony.", that’s what my Social Studies teacher once told me and I think that couldn't describe it any better. Growing up, I always felt like I simultaneously fit in nowhere yet everywhere. I don't think segregation is always intentional or malicious, people just tend to gravitate towards others they identify with culturally. While I did get to meet and befriend other Eurasians outside of school, I was often the only Eurasian in school settings but got 'adopted' by all the other racial groups because I was easy-going. In hindsight, I might even say I have brought together some friend groups that probably would not have mingled as closely otherwise. 

That's incredible. We can relate to food being a glue, and "fitting in nowhere yet everywhere." We know you are a wordsmith, so taking the conversation back to lineage, is there any particular language of your heritage you would like to learn to speak in the future? 

Yes! I love picking up languages and want to be fluent in Portuguese, Mandarin and Arabic. I have some knowledge of those languages but there’s definitely room for improvement. Sometimes it feels a little strange that I can speak and read better in French than in my own mother tongue.

 "Growing up, I always felt like I simultaneously fit in nowhere yet everywhere.. I was often the only Eurasian in school settings but got 'adopted' by all the other racial groups because I was easy-going."

- Sophiea Tupaz

Batik Open Jacket | Sukma

This International Womens' Day, are there any hopes you have for yourself or for the world in the near future?

Sophiea: I hope that amidst all this madness (the pandemic, international conflicts, etc) we won't lose sight of what is truly important and that we will continue to love and lift each other up.

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