5 Singaporean Fashion Designers Shaping the Industry

Published/Updated on:
November 14, 2020
Fashion trends are always changing and it can be hard to keep up! But these five home-grown designer brands have something to offer to customers for any season, with their unique take on weaving together classic design and contemporary trends.


If you thought that the Chinese qipao is only meant to be worn during special occasions and festivals, think again! Local designer Josephine Ho has made the traditional Qipao something that can be easily worn and comfortable with her homegrown label, Qiqing. Launched in November 2016, the QIqing qipao offers modern cheongsams that are suitable for everyday wear, with comfortable silhouettes made of embroidered cotton.The brand has been heavily featured in local press such as The Straits Times, Her World, and also Her World Brides. It is no wonder that the Qiqing qipao is a favourite among professional working women with their straight-cut design from the waist down, making moving around easy and comfortable. 

Qiqing qipaos catalog

Josephine is no doubt an inspiration for the local fashion scene, reinventing the wheel by weaving the traditional elegance of the cheongsam with modern details. In an interview with The Straits Times, she says: “I create cheongsam that are relevant and attractive to the modern woman. Buttons are one aspect of appealing intricate detailing and might seem like a small aspect of the whole cheongsam, but it can make a lot of difference in the overall look of the dress.” Instead of the frog button which is typically found on oriental-style clothing, Josephine uses unique buttons sourced from overseas – some embedded with stones, and others which are shaped like flowers.

When businesses were hit by the circuit breaker earlier this year, it did not stop Josephine from reinventing again. Approached by an Australian-based customer who was looking to tailor-make a bridal qipao for her tea ceremony in Malaysia, Josephine tried to do an online fitting with her instead over two video calls. The result was a perfectly fitting qipao, and the experience gave Josephine confidence to continue offering virtual fittings to other customers. Calling this “a breakthrough in her trade”, Josephine who has a number of regular customers in Singapore and Australia, can now receive and tailor-make orders from the safety of her home.

Qiqing’s ready-to-wear cheongsam range starts from $169 to $268. Prices for a bespoke qipao start at $350


ELNADYAH catalog

It is always refreshing to find new brands in Singapore which take our cultural icons and weave it together with modern fashion. TaF.tc Diploma graduate Nadiah does exactly this with ELNADYAH, paying homage to the cultural batik print in her line of apparels and accessories for both women and men. From tops, pants and skirts to hand-made accessories, the brand gives the traditional batik a unique modern twist with a bold and colourful touch.

For those of you who love to add a colourful touch to your masks in your OOTD daily, look no further! Nadiah sets the trend for the perfect sustainable mask for all Singaporeans by maximising her fabrics to create a series of reusable masks in the colourful batik print. If you’re looking for batik-inspired fashion, ELNADYAH is definitely worth checking out! 


Another up and coming local brand in the scene is SYNE founded by Ian & Eshton. The duo started out as winners of the Art of Shoes Competition (AOS) in 2018. Eshton’s winning collection named ‘Birds of Paradise’ was inspired by birds and how feathers are incorporated in celebratory outfits, while Ian’s collection ‘DYSTOP:IAN’ was designed with monsters and aliens in mind. They were then sponsored to take the Diploma in Footwear Design and Product Development with TaF.tc, and two interesting things which they shared that they learnt during the course were the skills of lasting and industrial stitching. For those interested to check out the competition, the finale of AOS 2020 will be taking place again on January 28 next year. The winning designs will be produced and sold for pre-orders online, and finalists also stand the chance to win a work placement opportunity with the CHARLES & KEITH Group.

Having started their journey in fashion and design within the fast fashion industry, Ian and Eshton were troubled by the vast amounts of waste created from discarded products in the industry. They started to source unwanted and discarded kimonos directly from Japan and restore the broken pieces into fashionable clothing. This passion translated into SYNE - a brand which is now known for reviving pieces of tradition passed down through generations. Besides their kimono selection, the brand also carries a streetwear inspired set of clothing that features a mix of utilitarian aspects combined with traditional batik prints, inspired by the iconic patterns of the SIA uniform. Uniquely iconic to the Singaporean identity, the collection ranges from $90 to $390.

SYNE kimono catalog

 Watch out for this power duo who are constantly seeking ways to enhance the potential of existing and unused materials from the fashion industry! 

4. YOF Athletica

Similar to SYNE, YOF Athletica is leading the way in our local fashion industry by producing sustainable, eco-friendly Yoga activewear for both men and women. Did you know that fashion production makes up 10% of humanity's carbon emissions, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year and washing some types of clothes can send thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean? 

YOF Athletica collection

 What I admire about the founder of YOF Athletica, Chearly is that she is clearly taking a lead to combat the waste generated in the fashion industry. By using Eco Circle Fibers, Natural Fibers and recycled materials, YOF makes sure that they show sustainable care for the environment in every ste; of their supply chain! Even down to the details such as their packaging, YOF uses Cassava plant-based bags to minimise carbon footprint. This is a brand which truly walks the talk when it comes to making a stand about shaping the sustainable trends in the fashion industry. 

Chearly also has a mission to create beautiful clothing that is as friendly to nature as it is to our skin. Leaving her corporate line to start her entrepreneurial journey, she went on to take an Advanced Certificate in Fashion Design at TaF.tc where she acquired knowledge in Adobe Illustrator, sewing, technical drawing and 3D Design which helped her very much in launching her own activewear brand. 

Coupled with Chearly’s international marketing and branding experience, it is a matter of time that YOF Athletica would become a household name in the world of yoga and wellness. YOF Athletica’s tops and pants for both men and women start from $36.


First breaking out into the local scene in 2010, Max Tan’s eponymous label MAX.TAN has grown from strength to strength. The label has chalked up quite a following locally and internationally, and has also kept the Singapore flag flying high, stocked in cities such as Copenhagen, Germany, Norway and San Francisco. It has won numerous accolades all over the world, including being the first Asia-based label to be invited to showcase at the prestigious Modefabriek in Amsterdam.

He has dressed international celebrities such as Ingrid, female rapper and Beyoncé’s protégé; Rupaul’s Drag Race winner, Violet Chachki, and Eurovision winner, Conchita Wurst. In Singapore, he has dressed for Rozz, Joi Chua and Joanna Dong.

In an interview with Guild Magazine, he commented that a successful designer, in his opinion “is one that is able to last and transcend past fleeting fashion trends.” As a loyal customer myself who is simply blown away by his range of androgynous and minimalist silhouttes which remain as all-time classics in my wardrobe, I can definitely testify to this.

Source: Facebook (@maxtansingapore)

More than just being a lead in the Singapore fashion industry, Max Tan also does his part to groom the next generation of designers in Singapore. Max has been involved with the Fashion Futures 2.0 programme created by Singapore Fashion Week in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), to help local labels grow into global brands. Click here to check out his latest collection!

Can I contribute in shaping the local fashion scene with TaF.tc?

Yes you can! In fact, 4 out of the 5 labels we mentioned in this article are our very own graduates from TaF.tc! With close guidance from our experienced trainers to help you sharpen your skills, confidently start your very own fashion brand with our Apparel Design Diploma.

Interested to find out more about our fashion diploma programmes? Do WhatsApp us at +65 6011 8066 to find out more!  

Sarah Tang

Part-time shopaholic and bubble tea addict, full-time supporter of local fashion, local business, local designers, and local artists! I also enjoy spending my weekends at museums, galleries and also the occasional pop-up flea markets (before COVID-19!)

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