The new Singaporean fashion brands we love at creative retail hub Design Orchard: Minor Miracles, Align Swim, Kanzi, etc
More than just local
Design Orchard is one of Orchard Road's standout shopping destinations. Yes, because it was built specifically to support and champion Singaporean labels and businesses, but also because their brand line-up is truly stellar. There are over 60 labels spanning fashion, beauty, and lifestyle on the retail floor, an incubatory workspace for designers, plus a public rooftop space. It's also gorgeously designed — the award-winning firm WOHA is responsible for its architecture. Shopping at Design Orchard, however, may pose a challenge to newcomers more used to seeing mainstream brand names in malls everywhere. To help narrow the pickings a little, here are our edited fashion curation.
Prints are clearly the heart and soul of Minor Miracles. All of the fashion that comes out of this label — from the print designs, down to the patterning, prototyping, and fit details — are done in-house by a design studio in Singapore. The team, headed by founder Dawn Bey, released their first collection, inspired by the architectural floral and botanical works of Ikebana stylist Caroline Spencer, in October 2019. There are a couple of variations on that central reference, and each garment you purchase comes with a tag that will lead you to its website with more information to read up on. We're fans of the Breath of Gerberas in particular, which uses watercolour splatters to imagine, in vibrant colour, what the breath of flowers might look like.
Swimwear can be hard to shop for, but Align Swim's very classic and straightforward designs make that endeavour a lot easier. Align's pieces are designed in Singapore and produced in Bali, with an eye for cuts and shapes that flatter. A strength in particular are the sophisticated colourways that they've released their swimwear in, which have the requisite summer blues and corals as well as more understated slate grey and olive green. Bonus: the brand is built with sustainability in mind and uses Italian Econyl, a fabric that regenerates waste from the ocean and landfills. Even the brand's packaging — a sturdy box with minimal branding and an unbleached linen pouch — is made to be reused.
The Kanzi brand name translates from Arabic to roughly mean ‘treasure', which is apt considering that it prides itself on the traditional Indonesian ikat method of making fabrics. Ikat is a labour-intensive craft in which dye is applied to yarn before being woven into finished fabrics. As a result, the prints have a warped, almost watercolour-like effect. Kanzi's concept involves embracing and championing this traditional technique, and using it for contemporary fashion. Because of the level of craftsmanship involved, Kanzi pieces take more time to produce. But you'll know that what you're getting is exclusive and literally handmade, down to the weaving of the fabric itself.
Baliza — a portmanteau of getaway havens Bali and Ibiza — is a label with heart. Its trade is airy, breezy resortwear, and the brand's pieces are made from organic cotton that has a lower impact on the environment. What's really striking, though, is that all of the pieces are handmade by a vocational training organisation in Jaipur that provides jobs and education for women and children. That means every embroidered bead, tasselled pom pom, and printed design is done by hand by an artisan in India. Baliza's whole philosophy is about fair-trade and giving back, which makes for much more satisfying shopping.
Simplicity in design is deceptive because it's often more difficult to make something pared back beautiful. That's something that the young and emerging label Hher has got right — with designs that tend towards unfussy and contemporary ease. The brand was founded in 2019, and its debut collection, "Get to know Hher", serves as a sort of introduction to the aesthetic sensibilities of the brand. The best designs, in our opinion, are the smart staples that draw from tailored references. They're cut from a range of premium fabrics sourced from Europe, Japan, and Korea, and finished with thoughtful details such as tidy french seams and bonded hems.
Jaime Lim, who founded [in]trigue, has a background in architecture that informs the way she approaches jewellery. As with buildings, jewellery is often designed, built and constructed around the tensions of what nature provides and what humans make. In the case of Lim's, nature comes as raw, untreated gemstones. These are sourced from around the world, and the metal work that encases and accompanies these gemstones are a testament to a design principle that form should follow nature. The brand's pieces are realised with craftsmen from Singapore, and Lim herself uses contemporary methods such as 3D modelling and printing in her process.
Visit Design Orchard's website for more information. Design Orchard is located at 250 Orchard Road, and can be reached at 6513 1743.