SINGAPORE - Up-and-coming local designers will soon have the opportunity to showcase their wares under one roof at a prime retail space in Orchard Road.
Works have begun on a new 2½-storey development to be built in Orchard Green, which aims to nurture home-grown brands and help them to go global while bringing a local mix to Singapore's main shopping belt.
Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran unveiled its name and logo at a ground-breaking ceremony on Monday (Oct 30).
Called Design Orchard, the building to be located at the junction of Orchard and Cairnhill roads will house a retail showcase on the first level, an incubation space on the upper floor and an events space on its rooftop.
The project, first announced in April, is a joint development by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), JTC Corporation and Spring Singapore and is slated to be completed in late 2018.
The three agencies said in a release that Design Orchard is looking for designers to participate in its retail showcase component, and local lifestyle retailer Naiise, which has been appointed to manage and operate the retail showcase, will launch an open call in November.
The aim is to select at least 60 local brands with original designs and unique brand stories to be featured, with a focus on emerging designers who are new to market, the release said.
Naiise will create a "garden-style" retail space offering fashion and lifestyle products and souvenirs, and organise regular events offering "non-conventional retail experiences" for shoppers.
Design Orchard will be built on the same grassy space as Keepers, a pop-up space for local designers that ran from September 2014 to January 2016 and "established that there is strong market demand for a consolidated showcase of designed-in-Singapore brands in the heart of Orchard Road", said STB chief executive Lionel Yeo.
Meanwhile, JTC will be calling for proposals by the first quarter of 2018 for an operator to manage the incubation space, as well as offer programmes aimed at community building, networking and fostering collaboration among designers.
Local design firm WOHA Architects has been appointed to oversee the design and construction of the project. Among its plans are a rooftop plaza with an outdoor event area and amenities such as co-working spaces and a photography studio in the incubation space.
Apart from those resources, there will also be a suite of support programmes that local designers can tap for growth. For example, they will be connected with overseas production partners and fashion associations, have access to support for trade shows and market access trips, business mentoring, training and other services.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Iswaran said that the fashion industry in Singapore employs 22 per cent of the retail sector's workforce and contributes 14 per cent of total retail operating receipts.
"In line with the thrust of the Retail Industry Transformation Map, we want to enhance our fashion industry's domestic and international profile and presence," he said, and the services offered by Design Orchard will equip designers with the knowledge, business support and networks to expand their overseas distribution channels and gain international recognition.
Mr Iswaran also announced that during this year's Christmas light-up period in Orchard Road from Nov 11 to Jan 1, the open-air carpark in Grange Road will host a combination of pop-up neon light art installations, live music, creative workshops and arcade games. It will be organised by Invade Industry, the company behind Art Box Singapore.
The use of state land such as open-air carparks in Grange Road and Angullia Park for ad hoc events was one of the plans announced at a tourism conference in April to remake the shopping belt.
Also on the cards were the trial of a multi-way cross-junction and likely reduction of one of the road's five lanes to make way for pop-up concepts, events and activities.
The possibility of Orchard Road going completely car-free was also floated as a possibility in the longer term by Mr Iswaran then.
Mr Iswaran co-chairs a ministerial steering committee, along with Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng, to spearhead rejuvenation efforts for Orchard Road.