Everyone has something to say about Singapore’s local fashion scene, but one can’t deny that it has come a long way. While some of the biggest homegrown names may have closed over the years, there’s still plenty of room to grow with emerging and veteran labels still going from strength to strength. In honour of the nation’s birthday this month, our local pride has us celebrating our favourite Singapore fashion labels.
1. Ong Shunmugam
A household name in the local fashion scene, Ong Shunmugam — named after founder Priscilla Shunmugam’s Chinese mother and Indian father — weaves narratives on culture and craftsmanship. The label is known for its reinterpretations of traditional Asian dress; its annual collections include modern cheongsams for Chinese New Year and it launched its second Hari Raya collection this year. Ong Shunmugan’s loyal following and success can be attributed to its emphasis on construction and fabrication. Its atelier is manned by four talented seamstresses — impressively, three of them are elderly women. The label has not gone unnoticed on an international scale. It has exhibited in the Beijing’s Chinese Museum of Women & Children and was the youngest Singaporean label to present at Coterie: A trade show held in conjunction with New York Fashion Week. For those looking for their own spin on heritage wear, Ong Shumugam also offers custom and bespoke work.
Much like the ballpoint pen Biro is named after, the fashion brand symbolises an expression of creativity. Biro takes on a distinctly different approach to menswear basics by hinging on minimal yet timeless style, with an emphasis on immaculate craftsmanship and origin. All of Biro’s clothing are tailored in Japan using quality fabrics from reputable mills. The Destroyer over shirt for instance, is made from premium selvedge chambray from a famed mill in Okayama, Japan. Shop Biro at Shouten: The label’s concept space which also features 100 percent handmade leather goods, an organic cotton collection, natural brass pens and Japanese ceramics.
3. Elohim By SabrinaGoh
Sabrina Goh is no stranger to design; the daughter of a draughtsman, Sabrina is well-versed in the art of building form. Little wonder why she’s an award-winner and a repeated contender in design awards. Elohim strives to subvert conventions by playing on silhouettes; the label is best known for its signature asymmetrical forms and often androgynous aesthetic. We’re excited for its Fall Winter 2018 Paper Bark collection, as it promises a step above quality fabrication with Japanese, sustainable, natural fabrics.
4. Carrie K.
Homegrown label Carrie K. is unarguably Singapore’s biggest name in indie jewellery design. The artisan label believes in “telling stories through jewellery as a visual idiom” — the pieces are shaped by heritage, milestones and moments. Everything is made by only the best artisans across the world, including leather smiths in Italy and silversmiths in Thailand. Its current star collection — “Star” from its “Modern Heirloom” line — spotlights Singapore’s Malay roots. It takes inspiration from the songket, a celebratory garment often reserved for royalty and special occasions. The collection features the traditional “Bintang Beralih (changing star) motif and topaz, moonstone, quartz, and pearls set in silver or 9-ct gold with filigree detailing to mimic the metallic threads often seen in songket. The brand currently runs a Heirloom Revival service to help you rework ancestral gems into a more modern style.
5. Ling Wu
Designer Goh Ling Ling has her mother’s vintage handbags to thank for her label, Ling Wu. The graduate of London’s Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design creates luxury bags in buttery soft leathers and exotic skins in voluminous shapes and sizes. Her belief that “a great bag… should live with purpose as a close and honest friend to whoever owns it” echoes the sentiments of every bag collector. Her bags are meant to be versatile, long-lasting and passed down; the range includes everything from cow leather market bags and roomy carry-alls to compact bubble-style clutches.
Baelf is the label to watch — it takes the seemingly mundane and makes it extraordinary by using wearable art and technology. Its semi-couture Beeing Human collection uses 3D printing techniques for its honeycomb inspired designs; materials used included the rubber-like elastomer and biodegradable BioFila Silk. At the moment, only its 3D-printed accessories are available to shop, with rings and hairbands in its lineup.
Pronounced doh-jen, Dzojchen reflects founder Chelsea Scott-Blackhall’s Singapore and British descent — it fuses East and West influences. The theme of duality continues in its design, with contrasting textures, polished street style looks and both modern and classic fusion. Regularly seen on the runways of Paris, New York, Seoul and Singapore, Djozchen’s current collections feature men’s suits in silk blend and micro-embroidered checkered cashmere with kimono waist belts, as well as short-sleeved cuff trenches and velvet smoking jackets for women.