Everyone has something to say about Singapore’s local fashion scene, but we 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.
This story was updated on 28 July 2020.
Dzojchen (pronounced ‘doh-jen’) reflects founder Chelsea Scott-Blackhall‘s Singapore and British descent as it fuses East and West influences, such as the Kasuri fabric from Japan, that are worked into impeccably tailored trousers or a slouchy suit. The theme of duality continues in her designs, which often feature contrasting textures and sharp dressing with polished street style accents. Regularly seen on the runways of Paris, New York, Seoul and Singapore, Djozchen’s pillars are impeccable fabrication, and premium tailoring. The label has cemented a presence in the Hollywood crowd, with celebrities such as Chadwick Boseman, Nicholas Hoult, and Zachary Quinto walking the red carpet in Djozchen.
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 past collections include a kebaya-inspired creations for Hari Raya and modern cheongsams for Chinese New 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. This year, the brand launched OM, its diffusion line that’s more wearable and suitable for the office.
Atelier Ong Shunmugam, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, 01-76, Singapore 278115
Much like the ballpoint pen Biro is named after, this fashion label symbolises an expression of creativity. Biro’s take on menswear is simple: 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.
Shouten by Biro, 333A Orchard Road, #03-23, Singapore 238897
It’s been exactly ten years since NAFA Fashion Design alumni Max Tan debuted his own label back in 2010. And a decade is a long time — and a testament of its resilience, relevance, and innovation — for a local fashion brand. Known for his sculptural, voluminous silhouettes, sophisticated tailoring and unexpected draping, Tan moves fluidly between the spaces of polarities — masculine and feminine, oversized and undersized, deconstruction and reconstruction. Southeast Asian cultures also underscore his designs, which are informed by traditional styles found in the region, then elevated respectfully to suit the modern landscape.
Max Tan Studio, 29 Mcnair Road, Singapore 328528 (by appointment only)
Some fashion designers see clothing as an extension of the body. Some see it as an expression separate from the body — an armour, if you like. Stolen belongs to the latter camp. Heavily influenced by the Brutalist art movement, designer-founder Elyn Wong’s signature is a minimalist aesthetic with strong, architectural shapes and an exposed back, “An ode to feminine allure in all its strength and fragility”, she says. But there’s more to Stolen than just clothes: Wong’s fashion presentations are performance art shows, and she has worked with multiple brands for a slew of creative projects.
Stolen, Level 3 Straits Clan, 31 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089845
Adlina Anis makes beautiful, breezy separates including a collection of flowy, vibrant batik pieces, but what’s more impressive about the label is its massive collection of stylish, innovative hijabs designed for the modern woman. Since launching snoods — the first earphone-friendly hijab — in 2013, local designer Anis has gone on to create the Ninja Echo with earphone access for workouts, and the Aqua-Sol series for the beach and watersports. As if you need another reason to fall in love with the brand, every piece tagged with the Adlina Anis label is made in the designer’s own socially responsible workshop, which ensures that all of its artisans work in a safe environment and are paid an above average living wage.
Now based in London, Ethan K sees the purpose of his label as the bridge between the cultures of East and West — for instance, he incorporates Chinese symbols of good luck into his designs. Craftsmanship is at the heart of the brand. After all, his family owns Heng Long Leather, a Singapore tannery that supplies high-quality exotic leathers to major international fashion houses. Growing up with a deep understanding for leather craft has clearly rubbed off on his work. All his designs are hand sketched, and the exotic skins are painted with the bags crafted by hand in an atelier in Tuscany. Ethan K Bags now retail at prestigious locations including Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue, Galeries Lafayette and Hôtel Ritz Paris. They’re even regularly spotted on celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Hailey Bieber and Sofia Richie, socialite Hum Fleming, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Eugenie, to name a few.
Designer Goh Ling Ling has her mother’s vintage handbags to thank for her label. 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 — versatile, long-lasting and meant to be passed down. The Ling Wu collection includes everything from cow leather market bags and roomy carry-alls to compact bubble-style clutches.
Ling Wu, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, #02-78, Singapore 278115
GINLEE was founded in 2011 by Singaporean and Israeli designers Gin Lee and Tamir Niv with a mission to make fashion matter. Their clothes are designed to flatter a myriad of shapes and sizes, which explains the significant use of pleats (a signature of the brand) and the airy silhouettes. Besides striving for the most flattering yet comfortable fit, each garment is designed to produce minimum waste, with sustainably-sourced fabrics that have longevity. Quantity is also kept at a minimum to prevent excess inventory. In trying to be even more sustainable, GINLEE has an order-on-demand service where garments are made-to-order. Customers going for this option will have to wait three to five weeks, but you get 15% off your order.
GINLEE, #02-35 Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103
Sabrina Goh is no stranger to design. The daughter of a draughtsman, Sabrina is well-versed in the art of building form. Little wonder that 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. The label regularly does big-name collaborations, partnering with major corporations like The Walt Disney Singapore and Lucasfilm to create offbeat prints on signature shirt dresses, tops, and tees.
Elohim by Sabrina Goh, 252 North Bridge Road, #02-36, Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103
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, Icon, honours Singapore’s bicentennial with diamond motifs to symbolise the five stars of the Singapore flag. The brand currently runs an Heirloom Revival service to help you rework ancestral gems into a more modern style.
Carrie K., 07 North Bridge Road, #02-K05 Funan Mall, Singapore 188969
Our Second Nature has succeeded where few Singapore brands have — it has created an identity so strong that its watercolour-like prints are instantly recognisable. Every collection is hinged on a unique pattern created by an in-house designer, that sets the central design and tone. Described as “personal and transformative”, the designs take inspiration from the everyday, including daily experiences, nature and everyday quirks.
Our Second Nature, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-66, Singapore 278115
Often simply abbreviated to IGC, In Good Company was founded by a team of four from the now-defunct local brand AllDressedUp. This is not your average local label — the four are adept at tailoring, with a knowledge of drape work, proportions, and refined styling. Its retail model is unique, as it produces three capsules a year. Its latest collection celebrates materials, and proportions. Fabrication is the focus, with lightweight fabrics sitting alongside dry handle knits, and suiting fabrics sewn into draped dresses, with a play on proportions through voluminous sleeves and airy drapes.
In Good Company is available at ION Orchard (#B1-06), Jewel Changi Airport (#01-214/215/216), The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (#B1-65)
Akinn may be barely a year old, but the man behind the label is no newbie in the fashion industry. Often credited for putting Singapore on the map, Wykidd Song was one half of now-defunct fashion label Song Kelly, the first local ready-to-wear brand sold at international luxury department stores including Harrods, Selfridges and Barneys New York. After more than a decade since Song Kelly shuttered, Song is back in business with another brainchild, this time focusing on cultivating collaborative design and responsible consumption. There have been three collections so far, each showcasing Song’s talent for structured silhouettes that mean business but breezy enough to move in.
Akinn, #03-09 Thye Hong Centre, 2 Leng Kee Road, Singapore 159086 (by appointment only)