Click over unusual offerings

Eight Slate's Savina Chai (above); and a maxi dress (right) from the label.
Eight Slate's Savina Chai; and a maxi dress (above) from the label.PHOTOS: EIGHT SLATE/SAVINA CHAI
Eight Slate's Savina Chai (above); and a maxi dress (right) from the label.
Eight Slate's Savina Chai (above); and a maxi dress from the label.PHOTOS: EIGHT SLATE/SAVINA CHAI
Ms Joycelyn Kam's Knack offers oven-baked jewellery such as necklaces (right) and pins (left).
Ms Joycelyn Kam's Knack offers oven-baked jewellery such as necklaces (right) and pins (left).PHOTOS: KNACK/ JOYCELYN KAM, KNACK
Ms Joycelyn Kam's (above) Knack offers oven-baked jewellery such as necklaces and pins.
Ms Joycelyn Kam's (above) Knack offers oven-baked jewellery such as necklaces and pins.
Beyond The Vines' layered shirt dress (left) and an outfit (right) from the upcoming autumn/winter collection.
Beyond The Vines' layered shirt dress (left) and an outfit (right) from the upcoming autumn/winter collection.PHOTOS: BEYOND THE VINES

Leong Kay Ean checks out online stores with unique products

EIGHT SLATE
www.eightslate.co

Ms Savina Chai, 21, started the brand a year ago after graduating from Temasek Polytechnic with a diploma in apparel design and merchandising, retail and visual merchandising.

"I wanted to create something for myself rather than work for others as I believe in what I can do. I also wanted to be a game-changer in the local retail industry as I thought it was really stagnant," she says.

The name Eight Slate - a combination of her personal lucky number and the raw mineral - encapsulates the brand, which she describes as her "very raw, very personal life project". She runs it with the help of two interns.

Her designs are simple and elegant, from feminine pleated skirts to edgy leather halter tops, in classic colours such as black and white. Materials used include vegan leather, taffeta and Japanese cotton. Prices range from $42.50 for a leather top to $86.50 for a maxi dress.

Her online presence on Instagram, which has just over 40,000 followers, has garnered attention for the brand. She also holds regular pop-up events.

Her clothes are made in China and she comes up with eight to 10 new designs a month.

On what she hopes to achieve with Eight Slate, she says: "I'm using it to show that, no matter what happens, a woman's personal style does not change. It is an attitude and a representation of her inner personality."

She is also using her brand as a platform to promote the work of other creative types such as photographers and film-makers.

For example, film-maker Shane Lim, 25, who won three National Youth Film Awards for his short film, November, earlier this year, shot a short film for her August campaign.

Jasper Tan, 24, who has shot music videos for local acts such as Gentle Bones, also worked with her on a short film for another of her previous collections.

These can be viewed on her blog, www.savinachai.com.

She says: "My label is more than another fashion brand. I want to promote local talent and combine our forces - fashion, photography, film - to represent our aesthetic."


KNACK
www.knack-knack.co

Simple, carefree and easy - that is how Ms Joycelyn Kam, 25, describes her eight-month-old jewellery label.

Her handmade necklaces and pins consist of a mix of oven-baked clay beads, brass, wood and acrylic. Prices range from $19 for a pin to $55 for a necklace made of polymer clay tubing and acrylic.

Every step in the production process is personally overseen by Ms Kam.

"I make them all myself. It's oven-baked clay jewellery, so I handmake the pieces. I'll put the pieces into the oven and, after that, sand and polish them by hand."

She has a background in fashion merchandising and worked as a merchandiser for local brand Al & Alicia prior to starting Knack.

She describes Knack as "an outlet for me to share my creative pursuits and processes. It started as a hobby, which my friends encouraged me to take to the next level".

"I hope to make products that anyone can relate to. I'm inspired by everything in life... different things every day, little or big."

Her latest collection, featuring organic shapes and beach-like hues - was inspired by her recent holiday to Sweden and the things she saw in a snapshot of Ribersborgsstranden beach in Malmo.

Although she sees the brand as a hobby rather than a business, she keeps an eye out for pop-up events and flea markets to take part in.

For instance, Knack took part in pop-up market Public Garden in May. It is also part of Pickjunction, a collective of local artisans, boutiques and studios.

She says: "I always use the chance to know my customers a bit better, so I can put a face to the people who buy my products."


OF TRYING TIMES
www.oftryingtimes.com

This accessories label was inspired by its founder's anxiety of turning 20.

Ms Peixin Tan, 21, says: "Last year, I graduated from polytechnic and realised it wasn't as easy or happy as I thought it would be."

And so, she channelled those feelings into her hobby of making accessories. Ms Tan, who goes by the name Pixie T., launched her label last November.

She graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a diploma in apparel design and merchandising.

The collection consists of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings made of polymer clay. She also has a small selection of homeware such as sake cups and dishes.

I try to emphasise the stories people can relate to.

PEIXIN TAN on her inspiration for her accessories

Prices range from $31 for a pair of earrings to $119 for a necklace.

"I called it Of Trying Times because it was my outlet for expressing difficult emotions. All my collections are about revelations that came from trying moments."

For instance, & Sleepless Nights features the different phases of the moon. That is tied to "how one watches the moon change when he is too worried to sleep", as stated on her website.

She handmakes the accessories and can take up to a week to complete a piece.

On how she tries to differentiate herself from other jewellery brands, she says: "I do minimalist very differently - I don't have a lot of new products and I try to emphasise the stories people can relate to. I try to connect with the intangibles."

As part of her brand, Ms Tan started a project called & Shared Sentiments, where strangers could write in via e-mail or by post to share their feelings about facing their own personal challenges.

"It was interesting to see how everyone was facing different challenges, but they were all rooted in the same strife of finding oneself. I picked up on emotions as inspiration for my upcoming collection, Dreamers, Planners, Doers."


BEYOND THE VINES
www.beyondthevines.com

This new brand is inspired by the Scandinavian movement, "where beautiful and functional everyday objects are not only affordable to the affluent, but also to all" - the mantra of founders Rebecca Ting, 28, and Daniel Chew, 29.

The couple will officially launch their label next month with their autumn/winter collection. They soft-launched three months ago with a pre-autumn collection comprising 36 looks.

Beyond The Vines is made up of understated yet luxurious basics that are practical and easy to match. Most clothes come in quiet colours such as white, pale blue and grey. Besides jersey and cotton, fabrics such as silk blends, satin and suede are also used. Prices range from $39 for a jersey T-shirt to $69 for a layered shirt dress.

Ms Ting oversees the brand's designs and concept while Mr Chew manages business development. Driven by their love of art and design, the couple left their jobs in the real estate industry to start the brand in May, the same month in which they got married.

All pieces from the collection reflect their desire to "create thoughtful, understated and honest designs for the everyday woman".

They aim to be socially and environmentally responsible, from the production processes to packaging. All packaging and clothes' labels are biodegradable.

Clothes are made in China and Ms Ting says: "We took months to run stringent checks on our manufacturers to ensure the dressmakers work in a clean and safe environment and are fairly paid."

The brand also provides free door-to-door courier service. "We know it is important for women to get their hands on their shopping as quickly as possible."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2015, with the headline 'Click over unusual offerings'. Print Edition | Subscribe