Launching a fashion business in Singapore takes guts. From problems such as a lack of capital to high production costs and difficulties getting good manufacturers and distributors, launching a line of your own is a high risk venture that requires creativity, hard work and boldness. These days however, aspiring fashion companies have found a way to slide into the market in a relatively more risk-free manner. We’re talking about Kickstarter.
An American public-benefit corporation that was launched in 2009, this global crowdfunding platform is an ingenious idea — rather than going about traditional routes of funding like getting loans from banks or equity financing to give their business a boost of life, newly established companies can now see their creative ideas come into reality by getting an online community to back them with funds.
Of course, launching a product on Kickstarter is not always a sure-win thing. Plenty have tried and failed to get the support they needed. That said, the platform has enabled a number of companies to get off the ground in Singapore. If you’re done getting your hauls from fast fashion brands such as Zara or H&M, here are nine brands you should be looking out for, because we should always #supportlocal.
Who are they: Launched on Kickstarter in August this year by co-founders Jacinta Rowe and Joey Sawyer, Bandeauz is a bandeau company that boasts a patented design for their bandeau bras, which were developed after several rounds of research, prototyping, sample runs, trials and revisions.
What do they sell: A simple black bandeau that provides comfort, style, support and fit, according to the brand. The bandeau bras in the market typically don’t provide enough support or coverage, and tend to slip off, said the brand. They decided to come up with something that addresses all these problems and at the same time, can be pretty enough to be seen. A highlight of their design is the smooth microfibre front and lace back with molded cups, and a front clasp closure that provides proper support and a boost to one’s décolletage, without moving out of place throughout the day.
Pledge amount: It ranged from $70 (for a piece of black Bandeauz with free local shipping) to $10,000 (which includes a private dinner with founders Jacinta Rowe and Joey Sawyer and a one-of-a-kind customised Bandeauz that will be embellished with Swarovski crystals and embroidered with initials or a special quote).
Progress: While Bandeauz did not manage to hit its Kickstarter goal, it was fully funded by two investors slightly more than a month after its launch. Currently, their bras are in production and they are offering a promo code and free storage pouch for those who purchase from their webstore, which is still a work-in-progress.
Who are they: Launched in October 2017, Mileneal’s founder Wilson Chan’s aim is to create watches for the young and dynamic working class Millennials (hence, the alternative spelling to their brand). While this group of discerning buyers have a taste for style, they generally can’t afford pricey luxury timepieces because of a lack of disposable income. Chan hopes to address this by providing an alternative — that is, high quality watches but at a more economical price tag.
What do they sell: Sleek, classic and timeless timepieces that are affordable and yet not lacking in quality and design. Their Classic watches come in four different shades, namely: Rose gold black (black face with rose gold trims), matte black (black face with black trims), silver white (white face with silver trims) and rose gold white (white face with rose gold trims).
Pledge amount: It ranged from $79 (for one Mileneal Classic Watch) to $300 (for all four watches in the Mileneal Classic Series).
Progress: It was 100 per cent funded by day five of launch. It successfully raised S$24,982 with 251 backers within a month. The campaign concluded in November 2017 and the watches were shipped in February this year. They now sell the watches on their website, which costs $122.99 apiece. In October this year, they launched a new Kickstarter project for a Prestige series of watches that are available in rose gold and silver cases, brown and black leather straps, as well as Ocean Blue and Aurora Green faces. Click here to find out more.
Who are they: If you’re a minimalist at heart, this label is your new to-go! Plain Supplies was launched by couple Poh Shen and Mandelena Koh in January 2017 to create products that are suited for the everyday life. Their pieces abide to the adage “less is more”, and are modern, simple and clean cut.
What do they sell: Simple, functional and immaculate items. Their watches are their mainstay, comprising unisex designs and a variety of colours (think full black or white face with rose gold or silver details) and interchangeable straps (mesh, leather and nato in an assortment of colours). They also have simple bracelets made of leather, rope and stainless steel, and they’ve recently announced that they would be rolling out sleek leather goods soon. These will be available in four designs — a cardholder, a bifold cardholder wallet, a bifold wallet and a zip wallet.
Pledge amount: It ranged from $79 (for a watch set that includes either the rose gold or gunmetal watch face, a stainless steel watch case, a Milanese mesh stainless steel strap, a genuine cow leather strap and a soft nylon nato strap) to $300 (for four of the watch sets, where you can choose from rose gold to gunmetal).
Progress: The project was fully funded 16 hours after it was launched on Kickstarter. It successfully raised S$25,409 with 237 backers within a month. The brand went on to fulfill their shipment and the campaign concluded in April 2017. Now, they sell their products on their website, where prices of timepieces range from $69 to $129. Plain Supplies recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new line of accessories. For wallets, the pledge amount starts from $36 (for a cardholder) to $255 (for three-bifold or zip wallets of choice and a bifold cardholder wallet).
Who are they: Tired of staring at the same watch strap day in day out? Amp up your #armcandy game with The House of Straps. First launched on Kickstarter by Ng Lan Qi in August 2018, the label is proud of its custom hand-stitched straps using Horween Leather from Horween Leather Company, one of the oldest tanneries in Chicago that is renowned for the unparalleled quality, consistency and innovation in their leather products.
What do they sell: Custom, handmade leather straps in Horween leather (smooth or distressed). These come in a variety of options, namely four colour choices (black, burgundy, natural and navy), two stitch styles (side or full stitch), 13 thread colours and two buckle finishing (shiny or matte).
Pledge amount: It ranged from $79 (for a piece of handmade Horween Chromexcel distressed leather strap with side stitch) to $129 (for a piece of handmade Horween Chromexcel leather strap with full stitch).
Progress: The project was fully funded 24 hours after it was launched, successfully raising S$2,406 with 26 backers in two weeks. Products were shipped out in batches from early October. The label now provides straps of other leathers (Italian leather and non-creasing Shell Cordovan) as well. Their straps now come with single pass (for Horween and Italian leather) or in two pieces (for all three leathers). Available on their website.
Who are they: Geetanjali Gupta, the founder and designer of LAVNG, started this label to address a personal need — she was looking for eco-friendly leather goods that were affordable and yet do not compromise on quality like that of fast-fashion brands. She launched the project in June 2018, offering high-grade and long-lasting leather goods which are environmentally friendly and bio-degradable.
What do they sell: Leather accessories ranging from backpacks to briefcase to wallets and card holders, made from full grain organically tanned natural leather. These leather goods come in three hues — forest green, tan and black, and are dyed using organic colours.
Pledge amount: It ranged from $29 (for a leather card case of any colour available) to $632 (which includes a soft leather backpack, a soft leather briefcase, a long zip wallet, a slim wallet, a key and coin purse, a leather card case and a leather key ring of any colour).
Progress: The project was fully funded in two weeks, and successfully raised S$11,603 with 51 backers in a month. The brand says it is on track for manufacturing and products should reach their office in Singapore by the end of October. Backers can expect to receive their purchases by mid-November.
Who are they: Launched in September 2016, Tessellate.Co is a travel-inspired online store that sells handcrafted jewellery of high quality. Their jewellery pieces are made of quality materials such as Brass and Sterling silver. The best part? For every item that they sell, the company donates a dollar to their partner, Fior Di Loto (a non-profit organisation in India that improves the lives of over 500 village girls).
What do they sell: Intricate jewellery of all sorts, such as rings, bracelets and necklaces, that are made with precious stones like moonstone, rose quartz and green onyx.
Pledge amount: It ranged from $25 (for a random selection of their Howlite Ring or Everyday Wear Necklace) to $75 (for a large swing necklace in semicircle/triangle, an adjustable Howlite ring of any shape and a polishing cloth).
Progress: They hit their goal and successfully raised S$1,495 with 34 backers just slightly more than a month since its launch. They have since concluded the campaign and fulfilled their shipments. Now, they sell a variety of 925 silver and brass jewellery with precious stones on their website. They also provide free worldwide shipping.
Who are they: Sneaker heads will love this one. Launched in December 2016, YSNEAKERS’ aim is to produce trendy luxury sneakers that are unlike any in the market. How? By allowing people to customise their very own one-of-a-kind sneakers and express their own individual style. Their sneakers boast a fusion of savvy street style with luxury leather from Italy and the artisanal craftsmanship of their main company, Diamond Walker, a bespoke shoe label that started in 2012.
What do they sell: A range of luxury sneakers which can be personalised using their Sneaker Customizer engine that allows a 360 degree model manipulation viewing of one’s sneaker creation. Choose from calf leathers, exotic leathers and other premium fabrics of various colours, as well as stitching colours, inner-lining colours, insoles, outsoles and laces. They offer junior-sized shoes for the kiddos too.
Pledge amount: It ranged from $380 (for an all-black or all-white Italian luxury grade water-resistant leather) to $8,888 (for their Y Ensemble package that comes with a leather bag to be chosen from three styles, a leather bracelet, a wallet, a belt or watch strap and 4 pair of sneakers).
Progress: They were fully funded within 15 hours of launch, and successfully raised S$53,113 with 103 backers. Now, they sell their unique footwear on their online site.
Who are they: Founder Xu Mingyi started this project in December 2017 because he felt that the swim shorts in the market are either too long, too short, too wide or too tight. His aim? To create swim shorts that can transition into stylish tailored shorts and that do not compromise on comfort, style and function.
What do they sell: European tailored swim shorts with a signature ribbon cuff detail (which is revealed when folded up to change the style from swim shorts to designer shorts) that come in five different colours — blue, pink, navy, orange and black. The shorts are made of a water-resistant stretch fabric that does not restrict movement and dries quickly.
Pledge amount: It ranged from $88 (for a pair of swim shorts of any colour and size) to $340 (five pairs of swim shorts of any colour and size).
Progress: They successfully raised S$19,370 with 128 backers slightly more than a month after they launched, which exceeded their goal of S$15,000. The brand faced some production issues with their manufacturers in ensuing months, but in an update to backers in September 2018, they said manufacturing has progressed and is moving forward at a steady rate.
Who are they: Seen as a lifestyle label that draws its inspiration from utilitarian style and industrial minimalism, the trio behind this everyday carry bag label are Moe, Shahida Hasan and Joshua Paul Siow. Founded in August 2017, the label hopes to target cosmopolitan people living in an urban city.
What do they sell: A multi-functional water-resistant black bag that comprises a three-way carry system. In other words, you get three different bag styles (a tote, a backpack or a messenger) for the price of one. You can seamlessly transition from one option to the other with a few tweaks. The brand also provide laser-etching services for you to customise your bag. Also available are watches that come with a black leather NATO strap and three additional nylon NATO straps.
Pledge amount: It ranged from $99 (for their early bird promotion for a multi-carry bag with custom personalisation) to $255 (for their Black Series Combo which includes a multi-carry bag and watch set, both with custom personalisation).
Progress: They successfully raised S$7,013 with 53 backers after slightly more than a month of launch. After the campaign concluded, they shipped the products out within a month. The bag and watches can now be purchased on their website. They also sell the NATO straps separately.