A small but prime plot of land in Orchard Road is to become a home for up-and-coming local designers.
Work has begun on a new 2½-storey development at the junction of Orchard and Cairnhill roads whose aim will be to nurture home-grown brands and prepare them to go global, while also pepping up Singapore's main shopping belt with more local talent.
Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran unveiled its logo and name - Design Orchard - at a ground-breaking ceremony yesterday.
The development on Orchard Green - once the location of a visitor centre and then pop-up store Keepers - will house a retail showcase on the first level, an incubation space on the upper floors and an events space on its rooftop.
The project is a joint development by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), JTC Corporation and Spring Singapore, and is slated to be completed late next year.
Malls along Orchard Road carry mainly international brands, though local labels have been increasing their presence.
The three agencies said in a release that local lifestyle retailer Naiise, appointed to manage and operate the retail showcase, will launch a call for designers next month.
The aim is to select at least 60 local brands with original designs and unique brand stories, but with a focus on emerging designers who are new to market.
The retail space will offer fashion and lifestyle products, and hold regular events for shoppers.
Meanwhile, JTC will be calling for proposals by the first quarter of next year for an operator to manage the incubation space, as well as offer programmes for community building, networking and fostering collaboration among designers.
Local design firm Woha Architects, which will oversee the design and construction, has planned a rooftop plaza with an outdoor event area, and amenities such as co-working spaces and a photography studio.
There will also be schemes to support local designers, for example, in connecting with overseas production partners and fashion associations, or in business mentoring.
Mr Iswaran said 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.
"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 to expand their overseas distribution channels and gain international recognition.
Mr Iswaran also announced that during this year's Orchard Road Christmas light-up from Nov 11 to Jan 1, the Grange Road carpark in Somerset Road will host a combination of light art installations, live music, creative workshops and arcade games. It will be organised by Invade Industry, the company behind Artbox Singapore.
Furniture and lifestyle brand Scene Shang is one of the home-grown labels that will be trying for a spot in the retail showcase.
Co-founder Pamela Ting said that she hopes to draw on Design Orchard's resources to help scale up the brand and initiate collaborations with other local designers.
"It's also a prime location, so you get that exposure and footfall that most local brands starting out don't. To have this, it has been a long time coming," she said.