I have always been a Singapore boy at heart. My first few years on our little red dot were some of my best; a lot of that time was centred on family and food, and marked by that special kampong spirit. I may have lived in London for many years, but I’ve always flown our red and white flag high. To my British counterparts who ask me to describe Singapore, I never fail to highlight the incredible safety and the great hawker centres on our island, not to mention the sunny weather, delicious snacks and the fact that Singapore is a true shoppers’ paradise.

On that last note, what many people don’t know is that besides luxurious international fashion labels, Singapore is also home to many local brands that have made waves beyond our shores—think CHARLES & KEITH, Depression, Lisa Von Tang, Dzojchen and Love, Bonito, just to name a few. Other names on the rise include Ong Shunmugam, Reckless Ericka, Carrie K., Stolen and many more.

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I have a penchant for local bag designer Ling Wu. Her precious skin bags are crafted from sustainably sourced and processed python skin from Java and Sumatra, Indonesia. Not only are the bags luxurious, they are also bound by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), a global agreement among governments to ensure that the international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. 

I would say Ling Wu bags are modern classics that stand the test of time, and look wonderfully contemporary at great prices that won’t bust the bank.

To help home-grown brands (spanning beauty & wellness, fashion & accessories, homeware & décor, and packaged F&B) go even further, the Singapore Brand Office and Singapore Tourism Board, supported by Enterprise Singapore, have jointly launched Made with Passion, a national marketing initiative that promotes Singapore-based brands that “embody the Singapore spirit of turning possibilities into reality”.

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If you’re looking to find authentic Singapore brands all under one roof, why not follow social media star Yoyo Cao on a shopping trip to Design Orchard, where you can find many of these Made With Passion labels? 

Conceived to nurture emerging Singapore designers, Design Orchard is a two-and-a-half storey building that serves as an integrated retail and incubation space that provides designers the resources to conceptualise, produce and testbed their products. It comprises a retail space on the ground floor, incubation and co-working spaces on the upper floors, and an events area on the rooftop.

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Operated by the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF), the retail area offers a great selection from over 60 local brands that span fashion and accessories, home furnishings, beauty products and souvenirs. Some of the Made With Passion names you can find here include jewellery label EDEN + ELIE, wallpaper design studio Onlewo as well as contemporary womenswear GINLEE Studio. Other Singapore-based names available at Design Orchard: Resort wear label AKOSÉE, candle brand Artisan of Sense, shoe label Anothersole, loungewear and sleepwear brand Bells & Birds, bag label Cocoonese as well as sustainable fashion label Little Match Girl.

As the festive season rolls around and you’re getting ready to pamper those you dote on with thoughtful gifts, take the chance to show our home-grown brands and businesses some love too—there’s no better time than now to #supportlocal.

Kenneth Goh