Despite being home to one of the biggest luxury retail markets, Singapore isn’t exactly the fashion hub churning a multitude of design younglings for the Eastern part of the world. Against Japan and South Korea’s action-packed creative landscapes, we do pale in comparison. Yet, with a steady stream of up-and-coming local labels, our burgeoning fashion scene is not to be looked down upon.
The significant arrival of Dover Street Market is also a watershed moment for Singapore. The retail beacon of cool is known for handpicking select local labels that match their forward-thinking ethos to be distributed in their other three brick-and-mortar spaces as well as e-platforms dotted in London, New York, and Tokyo. And first up: The Salvages. The streetwear brainchild of culture savant Earn Chen is now available in DSMs the world over — earning global street cred for their black-and-white graphic tees and Cherry Discotheque merch.
Then there’s the impending Singapore Fashion Week 2017. The annual fashion fest is set to bring about a flurry of fresh new creative blood, thanks to Fashion Futures’ programme that’s implemented in support of independent start-ups with the help of CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America). Past and upcoming contenders include names the likes of Max Tan, Stolen, and Whole9Yards.
Here, meet the 10 local labels poised to take Singapore’s fashion scene by storm, if they haven’t already.
(Main and featured images: Whole9Yards)
As its name suggests, Whole9Yards champions an all-encompassing view on femininity, presenting the myriad of atypical sides other designers overlook — thus their recurring hashtag, #UnconventionalFemininity. Sure, creative crusaders Daniel Ngoo and Franck Pouch manipulate lace, doily, and velvet — but not without employing a non-conformist element of grunge or deconstruction to it. Having shown at Paris Fashion Week, the four-year-old label has garnered itself a large base of international clientele. We’re telling you, Whole9Yards is going places.
Earn Chen, the hip auteur behind The Salvages, is also the brainbox of hip-hop dance club Cherry Discotheque and Surrender. Chen was advisor to the likes of Jaden Smith for MSFTS to the folks behind Bali’s Potato Head for their venture into Singapore. The self-professed cultural collector started The Salvages in 2016 as an e-platform curating garments to lifestyle brands along with a namesake line of its own, spanning monochromatic streetwear merch. When Dover Street Market Singapore opened a few months ago, The Salvages became the first local label to be stocked in the multi-label retailer.
Street style phenomenon Yoyo Cao — or more fondly known as her Instagram moniker, Yoyokulala — launched Exhibit as a multi-label store seven years ago. Following her unplanned debut at Singapore Fashion Week in 2015, Exhibit evolved into a full-fledged clothing line where offerings include statement pieces fantastically styled the way you’d imagine Cao would herself: Ruffled tops seamlessly slipped under sleek pantsuits, to off-shoulder tops tucked in high-waisted flare midi skirts.
Max Tan has been doing his craft for a decade, and the designer’s knack for purveying the experimentally wearable gets better with time. The equilibrium between maximalist and minimalist that the eponymous label marshals forms staples out of radical volumes, shapes, and cuts in their signature colour of black.
Chiefly inspired by the Brutalist art movement, designer Elyn Wong’s sartorial opus is best described by the word “architectural”. Although don’t get Stolen wrong: “Sexy” and “versatile” are part of their dictionary, too, albeit imbued with unconventionality. Wong’s sensual obsession with the female back is interpreted into slick plunging cuts that have become synonymous with the label.
If indispensable everyday pieces are what you’re after, Beyond the Vines will do you no wrong. The womenswear label marries contemporary simplicity with key trends of the moment. From streamlined slip-dresses to louche oversized trousers, expect nothing less than sleek foundation pieces worth slipping into your daily wardrobe rotation.
Design duo Keng How and Kage Cheng have been threading Japanese sensibilities into Biro since 2009. And quality is at the crux of the label: Yarn-dyed Nishijin-ori fabrics to raw selvedge denim, a Biro garment is manufactured in Japan’s small local factories of which the pair have handpicked for their exacting standards. Biro’s propensity for timeless, functional wear makes a strong case for our need to renounce trend-driven choices for basics as impeccable as theirs.
Take a glance at fledgling label Inventory made of sisters Olivia and Amanda Lin, and you’ll realise that God is in the details for the bespoke collective. Churning made-to-measure staples — three-piece suits to MA-1 jackets to gurkha pants — out of your sartorial wet dreams is their expertise. Inventory’s recent massive collaboration project invited the likes of illustrator Lydia Yang of Oak & Bindi to Vulture Magazine’s Managing Editor Clifford Loh to reinvent the classic white shirt, according to their differing aesthetics.
In Good Company is the all-round homegrown label which boasts womenswear, menswear and childrenswear. Spearheaded by a quartet of co-founders who share the vision of creating garments with no expiry date, the label is adept in keeping it simple yet evocative with its trademark geometric drapes and urban silhouettes.