How often do you notice a “Made in Singapore” tag on your clothes, especially when it comes to local brands? Not often, we reckon. Manufacturing garments here poses its own challenges, such as higher production costs. Yet, some homegrown labels are pushing on.
To celebrate National Day (and to #supportlocal), we’ve rounded up five local fashion labels that are producing their clothes (and accessories) here in Singapore. Find out why they continue to do so despite the challenges, and how they’re moving forward in these times.
Đang xem: Given
Photography Tan Wei Te
Art direction Debby Kwong
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1. OliveAnkara: What the label is
Set up by Nigerian-Italian Ify Ubby, OliveAnkara is known for its tailored and structured separates in bright African prints and statement earrings – a homage to Ify’s roots.
After completing her PhD in Italy and moving to Singapore in 2013 to pursue a career in cancer research, she struggled to find 100 per cent cotton African wax prints, known as Ankara, to make her wedding dress. So, she decided to import the fabric and make her own African-inspired wear.
Inspired by the melting pot of cultures in Singapore, she went on to start her label here in 2017 in hopes that her pieces can be worn by women of all races.
Xem thêm: wax tạo kiểu tóc
Pictured here: Cotton wrap pants, $179
1. OliveAnkara: How the clothes are made
Before Ify made OliveAnkara a full-time endeavour in January 2019, she was juggling her postdoctoral work at the National Cancer Centre Singapore and running the business. Producing locally was most efficient as she cut out the middleman.
“I wanted to be able to connect with the seamstresses and be able to talk through small adjustments face-to-face,” she says.
She works with five local seamstresses in their 60s, who all work from home, and says she values their feedback.
“Some can be a bit conservative and they tell me upfront that something might be too revealing!”
The label operates on two sustainability-driven pillars: slow fashion, by producing in very limited quantities; and zero waste, by repurposing fabric scraps into earrings and scrunchies. It typically makes one piece per size per print, as Ify says: “My prints are very bold and no one wants to walk into a bar and see 10 other people wearing the exact same design.”
As her materials are all here, she easily pivoted her zero waste project into the production of masks during the pandemic. The masks, which she makes at home, have also been donated to at-risk individuals, while 10 per cent of sales go to charity organisations.