One thing I don’t think I talk about very often here is my love for local Singaporean fashion – no, not our ubiquitous tropical weather-ready shorts and flipflops that’s practically a uniform for most locals here, but that of Singaporean fashion designers. Fashion might not be the first thing you associate with Singapore, but it has gained much support in recent years and happily our local designers are no longer regarded as ‘inferior’ compared to the international names.
The thing I’ve found about popular international fashion brands is that everyone (and their mother) is wearing them – unless you’re just getting nondescript basic pieces, it’s not uncommon to walk along our main Orchard Road shopping belt and see someone else wearing that same patterned H&M dress that you just picked up a week ago! What’s worse, this same thing could happen to you… even in Europe or somewhere far-flung because these brands have gone so global, and they’re usually so cheap, everyone has to get their hands on them!
I was at Blueprint Singapore over the weekend, and it’s a tradeshow that showcases the best in Asian fashion, with a focus on our own Singaporean designers as well as Asian names around the region. I was lucky enough to score invites to the Parco Next Next fashion show as well attend Blueprint Emporium, where the designers set up shop and sell their wares to the public, often at really discounted prices!
I love getting things from Singaporean designers because their work is usually produced in smaller, more limited quantities, so you’re less likely to have the girl sitting next to you on the train wear the same thing. This means that the prices of the clothing tends to be higher than that of your mass-market brands and can be tough on your wallet, but also means less people wearing them, My best advice for the thrifty is to sign up for their mailing lists and wait for the off-season clearance sales because they can usually be slashed up to 50-90%! You’ll have to make do with limited range and sizes and not be ‘in-season’, but it’s totally worth it for the price that you pay.
Also, clothing can be a great souvenir from that country, a practical alternative to fridge magnets and kitschy keychains! I particularly love visiting Bangkok because of their talented Thai designers, and I hope fashionistas coming to Singapore can feel the same way too! Here are some of my favourite Singaporean fashion brands that I own:
You’ll love the fact that the brand was named for designer Jo Soh’s dog, and the quirky store displays which are her hand-drawn creations. Her clothes are often themed rather whimsically, whether it’s based on local dessert Kueh Lapis or Flying Donkeys – her latest range involves synchronized swimmers that feature prominently in print and pattern on the clothing. Hansel clothes are good for office and casual wear but unfortunately not cheap, with prices usually ranging between $200-$300 on average. The good news is that she now has a diffusion range called Hello Hansel that is around the $100-$200 range.
Another local designer whose clothes I own too many pieces of, Priscilla of Chalk does sweet feminine clothing that generally are great for casual and when you want to gussy yourself up a little – they’re usually quite simple and make you feel pretty =) Her stuff is usually is usually in the $100-$200 range on average. She was an upcoming designer in the Parco Next Next fashion incubator programme but has since graduated and has done pretty well for herself locally.
You can find her shop at Parco Next Next (Level 2, Parco @ Millenia Walk), with certain designs stocked in other shops.
The clothes from Max Tan usually have very unusual silhouettes and cuts, and are always fun to figure out how to wear – I have a dress with shirt sleeves for a belt and another one where the premise is how many ways you can interpret a white shirt! There’s a certain androgyny about the clothing as well – colours are usually monochromatic and colourblocked but the weird cuts do add some drama – definitely for the adventurous! He was also a graduate of the Parco Next Next programme and has since gone on to recognition overseas as far as China and Copenhagen! His stuff is not particularly cheap either ($100-$200 range if I remember right), but there is a cheaper diffusion line called Liquid by Max Tan which is much easier on the pocket.
You can find Max Tan stocked at a few retailers in Singapore and internationally now, check out the website for more details.
My most expensive dress ever bought in my short life has been this silk cheongsam by Tong Tong – the shop is located in the rather quiet Shaw Towers, but you can’t miss the funky circular doorway that makes you feel like you’re walking through a tunnel! Tong Tong is really popular among the office lady crowd for their traditional Chinese cheongsams and inspired clothing, but usually rendered through unusual fabrics and cuts to produce surprisingly modern pieces. Stuff here is not cheap, with dresses averaging $300 – $500, and stuff rarely goes on sale, but it is a very pretty store to browse!
Find Tong Tong at Shaw Towers, 100 Beach Road #01-04/05. Check out my review on Yelp here.
Of course there are a lot of other local brands that are fabulous, these are just some that I own personally and that I would recommend to any visitor friends coming to Singapore. Perhaps later on I’ll go another post on my favourite shopping spots, especially those that would be great for locals and visitors alike – I am slowly growing my AFAR wanderlist here. Do share any of your favourite brands in the comments!