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Fashion

The New School Of Singapore Fashion Labels Have A Unique Perspective On Classics

Three young names; three new ways to see and wear classics. Keng Yang Shuen casts the spotlight onto the newest, savviest and most refreshing labels breathing life into Singapore’s fashion scene.

#1: 3Eighth

Hit this up for: A fresh spin on classic tailoring that could make the term (and street style blog) “The Sartorialist” cool again.

Who’s behind it: Former marketing manager Sheryl Yeo, who apprenticed at esteemed local bespoke tailor The Prestigious before launching this label — named after an industry standard for seam allowances — last November.

Sheryl Yeo

Why: True to her generation, Yeo, 27, has a decidedly progressive approach to suit making. Her silhouettes are boyish and roomier to cater to both men and women, as well as allow for easier movement. “(They’re supposed to) give people the space to be themselves, regardless of gender or sexuality,” she says. “I find that the questions (customers) tend to ask are the same regardless of gender. My job is to try and educate them that I’m here to give their orders a suitable cut based on their individual proportions.”

Sourcing for fabrics from Singapore suppliers (her way of supporting local) as well as legacy houses like Marimekko and Liberty London, she takes five to six weeks to consult on, fit and complete an order — her team of seven works out of a studio on Circular Road. Designs (from $120 for a top to $650 for a suit) boast a modern edge: neat camp shirts with matching wide-legged pants that are spot on the tone-on-tone trend; cropped trousers that can be dressed up or down; suits that are either plain and minimalist, or printed with a whiff of Gucci-esque eclecticism.

What to expect next: In line with her inclusive ethos, Yeo is collaborating with other local labels to produce unisex accessories and cosmetics.

#2: Shawna Wu

Hit this up for: Some of the most artisanal — and artiest — knitwear to come out of Asia in years.

Who’s behind it: The Taiwanese-born, Singapore-raised and now New York-based Wu. The Parsons fashion design alum returned to the +65 in December — the very month she launched her label — to stage her first local fashion show: a live performance piece inspired by traditional Chinese tea ceremonies.

Shawna Wu

Why: If said fashion show is not telling enough of the 24-year-old textile artist’s conceptual approach (her presentations are more art installation than catwalk), her craftsmanship ought to speak for itself. She works with luxurious fabrics like mohair, silk and cashmere to create sensuous, gossamer-like knit tops and dresses; their uneven yet refined weave and colours clearly only achievable by hand. A single piece takes up to three weeks to complete and is by commission only, costing upwards of a grand. Accompanying all this is a range of “ready-to-wear” that includes cheekily fetishistic slips and corsets, and jewellery made of natural pearls — as well as a strong allegiance towards sustainability.

Everything is produced with responsibly sourced materials and ethical manufacturing processes. Her sweaters, for example, are made using remnant silk — gathered from Indian and Nepali garment factories — that’s hand-spun back into yarn by women co-ops; the dyes are non-toxic and all techniques are meant to generate minimal waste. Wu explains: “It’s more about shifting a customer’s mentality into understanding that they should love, value and cherish their garments (as opposed to having a disposable, buy-and-throw approach towards fashion).”

What to expect next: Wu’s in the midst of sourcing for stockists and setting up an e-store. Her next show, a live garment installation, takes place in her native Taiwan in June – as with her Singapore show, Wu plans to work exclusively with local materials and creatives.

#3: Playhood

Hit this up for: Truly personalised streetwear that’s both hype and haute.

Who’s behind it: The fine arts-trained Sarah Lai, 24, who’s also armed with a fashion design degree from the London College of Fashion. She started her label just over a year ago.

Sarah Lai

Why: Lai’s jackets ($550-$1,250 each) marry three elements that make some of the trendiest and most covetable pieces in fashion now: a ’90s influenced aesthetic, vintage denim sourced from Japan, and customised artwork for a statement motif. As novel and Instagram-friendly as the results are, there’s a highly intimate and refined touch that sets her pieces apart from the flux of personalised apparel and accessories on the scene. For one, her signature illustrations are lush, hyper vivid and detailed florals that are reminiscent of ’90s anime and vintage sailor tattoos. She never repeats a design, dreaming each up only after consultation with the customer, and painstakingly hand-paints it over a period of one to three months. PS. The paint she uses is formulated in-house and, unlike most commercial versions, doesn’t harden and crack over time. And yes, she also works on shoes and bags — as long as they’re fabric.

What to expect next: Playhood’s first showroom opens this month in Tiong Bahru, and will include a side of ready-made totes, bucket hats and silk-screened tees. Lai’s also planning for trunk shows in Shanghai and Beijing later this year.

This story first appeared in Female’s March 2019 issue.

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