Cover Photo: Courtesy of Rye

These up-and-coming designers hail from our very own sunny island and they’re here to do some serious damage

This story was first published on August 7, 2021, and updated on August 10, 2021.

If you thought you didn’t need another bevy of emerging local designers on your radar—think again because Singapore has a lot more under its sleeve to offer to the fashion scene in our beloved tropics.

See also: Singaporean Designer Max Tan on How Gender Influences His Creative Process

Along with some designers in Singapore that have already tackled the fashion scene for a while now, we think that you should also be in the know of some of the more discreet and underrated designers that are bound to take the country by storm with their innovative and cultural imprint on their unique designs.

As most people are now taking to social media and online platforms to explore different fashion ideas and make their purchases, making a name for themselves on the internet and various social entities is commonplace for our local designers. Expressing their input on what Singaporean fashion can be on social media is arguably the best way to spread their individual style and impression throughout the country and beyond too.

Their carefully crafted designs not only highlight Singaporean entrepreneurship, but they also emanate a distinctive local flavour through the various individual and cultural marks that these designers leave on their many designs and products. With National Day around the corner, this is the perfect time to celebrate our locally-based designers.

See also: 4 Bespoke Clothing Designers in Singapore Who Continue To Inspire The Next Generation


1. Yilin Lu of Yumumu

Singaporean designer Yilin Lu, who was formally trained in Fine Art and self-taught in fashion design, founded Yumumu with a philosophy of incorporating a diverse and elegant aesthetic into her creations and it comes through in the amalgamation of different cultural and geographical inspiration points and an enduring grace that makes her designs uniquely hers. These creations are not only simply put together and pleasing to the eye, but their construction is also effortless in the textured layering that allows the clothes to be styled in a classic and ethereal way.  She believes in clean lines and natural colour palettes, which display the signature Yumumu sophistication and sensuality that transcends time and space.

See also: 3 of the Most Influential Asian Jewellery Designers To Know


2. Bessie Ye of Rye

Bessie Ye believes in the quintessential less-is-more outlook on fashion and her brand Rye exudes just that. Her take on minimalism and not overdoing it in her creative projects emit a kind of irreplaceable classiness and universalism that is not only widely understood by the masses, but also inclusive for all. She understands the modern woman's desire to look put together without trying too hard with her easy-to-match items; her insistence on merging form and function in her clothing perfectly caters to the demands of ease and comfort in daily fashion and living in our humid weather.

See also: International Women's Day 2021: 8 Inspiring Female Interior Designers in Singapore


3. Santhi and Sani Tunas of Binary Style

Twin designers Santhi and Sani Tunas take inspiration from their love for the tropics and their formal training in architecture and weave that into their fun conversational prints for their lifestyle brand, Binary Style. Self-proclaimed as being “inspired by [their] grandmother’s table”, their intentional designs that showcase Singapore's unique history, cultures and their own stories of local upbringing truly makes their brand a special and nostalgic one. Their peculiar style of merging architecture and nature into their products undeniably pushes them to the forefront of ingenuity and innovation in the fashion business.

See also: Graffiti Artist Kongo: Street Art and Silk Scarves


4. Shannon Lee of Shirt Number White (S№W)

Designer Shannon Lee started Shirt Number White as a brand that aims to combine the aesthetic and genres of women's and men's wear into his shirts for women, which boldly defies societal standards and expectations of what women's fashion should be. He also seeks to redefine the classic white shirt for women and to merge elegance and style with functionality and comfort for the everyday heroines of this world. His shirts challenge the notion of the women's shirt with its pleasantly layered ruffles, wide ends and unique pattern work that also reflects his extensive background in fashion design and working at various fashion labels.

See also: Karl Lagerfeld, Balmain and More: 10 Best H&M Collaborations With Fashion Designers

5. Nat Loh of Holtan Vibes

Nat Loh wants to bring back the dying trade of traditional wax drawing batik and fuse it with modern-day casual men’s glamour to make his signature tailored batik shorts for everyday wear. Harking back to the days when men in Malaya would ubiquitously wear batik trousers in the comfort of their abodes, his brand Holtan Vibes aims to merge the past and present into a blissful union of historically and culturally significant patterns and translate them into the clothing vessel that is widely worn by many today, making his designs a thing of timelessness and eternal beauty.

See also: Oniatta Effendi on Weaving Heritage Stories with Singapore Batik Label Baju by Oniatta

6. Pooja Bhansali and Monica Tarunadjaja of Stain Studios

Pooja Bhansali and Monica Tarunadjaja believe in creating a brand that is eco-conscious, sustainable and skillfully stylish. As designers who come from different types of upbringing and education, Monica combines her fashion design expertise with Pooja's background in textile arts and prints and incorporate them into their shared love for nature and the environment around us. As the brand name suggests, they aim to “stain” their honest intention of quality and responsibility towards our environment on every one of their products and transform them into effortlessly looking pieces of art for the everyday person.

See also: Stella McCartney Talks Sustainability, Party Trousers and More After Her Fall-Winter 2021 Show

7. Ifeoma Ubby of OliveAnkara

Italian-born Nigerian designer Ifeoma Ubby is the mastermind behind Singapore-based brand OliveAnkara, where she works to combine her love for African fabrics with modern Italian fashion design. Inspired by Singapore's diversity and salad bowl of cultures, she launched her brand in 2017 with the goal to make African-inspired clothing for women of all races and backgrounds because she fervently believes that African prints can look good on anyone and no one should be left out of the party. Her passion for mixing styles and cultures into her products shows her belief that it would make the world a more inclusive, accepting and sensitive one as we celebrate African Ankara prints across the continents.

See also: Yves Saint Laurent's New Nail Polish Collection Inspired by North African Spices

8. Qian Qian of Graye Studio

Designer Qian Qian takes pride in creating a unisex clothing line that combines functionality and aesthetics, whilst maintaining eco-conscious and environmentally friendly practices in her products such as digital design techniques to reduce waste and carbon footprint. As a NAFA degree scholar, her brand Graye brings to the local fashion scene a unique twist on men's and unisex apparels whereby she uses eco-friendly fabrics to create simple, yet detailed clothes and accessories that highlight a zen-ness and minimalist attitude to fashion, which focuses on highlighting the individual who is wearing them.

See also: Earth Day 2021: 15 Eco-Friendly Beauty Brand to Know

9. Priscilla Shunmugam of Ong Shunmugam

Priscilla Shunmugam started the womenswear label Ong Shunmugam in 2010 and she is known for reinventing the cheongsam and incorporating traditional Asian-inspired patterns and textiles into her contemporary bespoke designs. Born in Kuala Lumpur to a Chinese mother and an Indian father, she studied dressmaking and pattern-cutting for a year in England after studying law in the National University of Singapore. As a mostly self-taught fashion designer, she has made groundbreaking contributions to the Singapore and Asian fashion landscape in her innovative reinterpretation of traditional Asian ethnic wear, and her genius has been rewarded with awards like the Grand Award at the Design For Asia Awards in 2013 and being named Designer of the Year at the 2012 Elle Awards in Singapore, just to name a few.

See also: 5 Things To Know About the New Ong Shunmugam Flagship

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