Fashion and art are not wholly distinct. Yet, with Singapore’s fashion scene dominated by generic clothing brands, repetitive prints and blogshops that seem to differ only in name, it’s understandable why some would strain to describe fashion designers as artists. If you’re someone who’s feeling similarly jaded with Singapore’s fashion industry, however, here are some designers who produce clothes that can only be described as works of art.
PLAYHOOD may only be two years old but thanks to social media, Singaporean designer Sarah Lai has already built up a sizeable following both locally and abroad. With a unique specialisation in denim and hand-painted pieces and a vintage touch, she even has a fan in rapper Jay Park, who wore one of her pieces in his concert. Sarah draws inspiration from flowers and the different meanings they carry to create her beautiful botanical pieces.
More than just an artist, this London College of Fashion alumna’s dedication to her business is unparalleled. She organises events, actively involves customers in the process of customising their garment and constantly monitors the quality of her raw materials.
On entry to her site, you’ll be greeted by stunning hand-painted garments that are as much a work of art as an enviable piece of apparel. Any of her ready-to-wear pieces are sure to turn heads but if you’re looking for a botanical illustration that conveys a message close to your heart, reach out to her and enjoy a one-of-a-kind customisation experience. Each custom design is created only after she consults with the customer and is an intimate one- to three-month process.
Ying the Label
University students torn between pursuing your passion and going the safe route of landing a corporate job in your area of study, Phuay Li Ying’s story may comfort you. Armed with a double degree in Business Marketing and Psychology, Ying’s first job was in banking. However, she always kept a mind to her passion for fashion and embarked on part-time courses in Melbourne and LASALLE. With her savings and family support, she then started her own fashion label, Ying the Label, to tell her stories through art. Her numerous collaborations with other brands, including shawls and a tea set for UOB, are testament to how far she’s come since.
Like Sarah, Ying uses fabric as a canvas and each of her light, subtle designs are hand-painted before being digitally printed onto the fabrics. Ying’s inspiration comes from simple experiences in life and her self-designed prints manage to convey poignant emotions in a minimalist way. Thanks to high quality fabrics imported from Japan, Korea, Indonesia and more, Ying’s prints remain vibrant even after several washes.
Ying’s customisation services include not just apparel but furniture as well. Whether you’re looking to treat yourself to an exquisite custom dress or looking for a hand-painted, cushioned chair to gift a loved one, your search is not over until you’ve seen Ying’s delicate designs. As Ying continues to pursue her vision of transforming art beyond paper and into something versatile and wearable, her dreams include allowing more custom-made choices.
Kap Shopping Mall
9 King Albert Park
Contact: 69353881, 90402532
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more unique pair than Santhi and Sari Tunas. This pair of twins left a career in architecture to launch a business that would allow them to explore their shared passion of graphic art. Knowing that they wanted to make art, the next step was to find a medium of expression. Despite doubts from those around them, the twins decided on scarves which, when unravelled,would display their intricate patterns in totality.
Since then, the twins have been designing scarves that showcase different parts of Singapore’s culture and history in vivid prints. From canoeing at MacRitchie to opulent Peranakan culture, the twins’ passion and talent comes through in every heartfelt design. Their most popular design? The Tiong Bahru estate.
Although Binary Style has expanded though collaborations with brands such as Scene Shang and Ans.Ein to create furniture and dresses respectively, majority of their designs still make their way onto scarves. More than just an apparel brand, Binary Style’s scarves have been featured by Asia Society to promote Asia in the United States and National Heritage Board has engaged the twins to create a collection for the Museum Label, with a focus on Singapore’s historical artefacts. Despite the unexpected success of their brand, however, Santhi and Sari are never too busy to collaborate with their clients so feel free to write to them if you’re keen on impressing your guests with one of their scarves at a corporate or private event.
Re-Style @ ISETAN Scotts
Shaw Centre Level 2
350 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238868
Contact: 6733 1111
[email protected] Carrie K Atelier
National Design Centre, #01-01
111 Middle Rd, 188969
Contact: 6352 2559
[email protected] Cathay
2 Handy Road
The Cathay #B1-08
263 Beach Rd
Contact: 6291 9629