Speech by Mr S Iswaran at the Groundbreaking Ceremony of Design Orchard at Orchard Green

  • Date
    30 Oct 2017
  • In This Story

Mr Mark Shaw, Chairman, Orchard Road Business Association

Mr Mark Yong, President, Singapore Furniture Industries Council

Mr Wilson Teo, Vice President, Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore

Mrs Helen Khoo, Honorary Secretary, Singapore Retailers Association

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is my pleasure to join you at the groundbreaking ceremony for Design Orchard at Orchard Green.


2. The fashion industry is an essential aspect of a country’s brand image, even as it makes valuable contributions to the economy. In Singapore today, the fashion industry employs 22% of the retail1 sector’s workforce and contributes 14% of total retail operating receipts. In line with the thrust of the Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM), we want to enhance our fashion industry’s domestic and international profile and presence. In support of this goal, we also want to nurture a vibrant design community in Singapore to strengthen our unique local offerings.

3. Design Orchard is a joint initiative of JTC, SPRING Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), that pulls these different efforts together. Some may recall that KEEPERS, the local designers’ pop-up, took place at this very same location nearly two years ago. With most survey respondents (77%) expressing their hope to permanently anchor a similar concept in Singapore, the demand for a unique retail concept like Design Orchard was evident. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFf), Carolyn Kan and the designers who supported the KEEPERS test-bed, which paved the way for this milestone today.

4. Design Orchard will house a retail showcase, incubation space and communal space under one roof. Its name, “Design Orchard”, is an apt description of our efforts to grow our local brands in an iconic location. As a retail showcase featuring local labels, Design Orchard will offer an authentic and differentiated retail experience in Orchard Road, our internationally renowned shopping street.

5. Design Orchard will also provide holistic support to local designers to build their unique brand identity, and cultivate a vibrant design eco-system in Singapore. To support the global expansion of our local brands, Design Orchard will also help designers’ gain access to overseas buyers, tradeshows and marketing trips. In addition, designers can look forward to collaborations with MNCs, lifestyle brands for new product development, and access to overseas fashion associations.

6. This suite of services will equip our designers with the knowledge, business support and networks to expand their overseas distribution channels, and enable our design talent to gain international recognition.

7. To kick start local brands’ participation, Naiise (pronounced “Nice”), the appointed retail operator, will be issuing an open call for designers to participate in the retail showcase this November. Through this open call, at least 60 local brands will be selected to be featured at the showcase within Design Orchard. I would like to encourage our local designers to seize this unique opportunity and actively participate in the open call. Selected designers will undergo mentorship programmes tailored to meet their different needs.

8. In addition, JTC will launch a call for proposals for an operator to manage the incubation space by the first quarter of 2018. The incubator operator will work with partners to offer programmes aimed at community building and collaboration among the designers. Designers can also look forward to services that support their development and internationalisation across the value chain, ranging from sourcing and production to merchandising, distribution and retailing.


9. Design Orchard will be located in the heart of Orchard Road, which is one of our key shopping precincts and top tourist destinations. However, today’s well-travelled and sophisticated consumers seek much more than the conventional retail transaction. To stay relevant and sustain its appeal to Singaporeans and visitors, Orchard Road must evolve to provide more quality and immersive experiences.

10. I am pleased that some of the Orchard Road stakeholders have already recognised this need and independently rolled out initiatives on this front. For example, TANGS has revamped its beauty and wellness haven on Level 4 of its flagship store at Tang Plaza, to offer a wider range of spa experiences for visitors. ION Orchard will also be refurbishing its ION Sky observation deck into a space where visitors can experience Singapore and Orchard Road’s history and heritage through immersive multimedia displays.

11. More international brands such as Apple, Japanese beauty brand Cle de Peau (pronounced as “clare deu pu”) and Korean eyewear label Gentle Monster have also established their flagship stores in Orchard Road this year. All this has enhanced the diversity of retail experiences that consumers can enjoy. These must be complemented by place-making activities within the precinct.

12. Recently, the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) shared its plans beyond the traditional light-up of Orchard Road for “Christmas on a Great Street” in conjunction with the year-end festive season. During the same period, we can also look forward to the activation of the open-air car park at Grange Road (opposite Cineleisure) by Invade Industry, the organisers behind Art Box Singapore. Through a combination of pop-up neon light art installations, live music, creative workshops and arcade games, this multi-sensory activation will add to the range of experiential offerings that visitors can enjoy during the year-end festivities at Orchard Road.

13. We welcome more creative and exciting ideas, and look forward to continue working with private sector partners to develop more concepts to enliven the Orchard Road precinct.

14. Design Orchard is one example of such long-term collaborations to boost Orchard Road’s retail offerings. Design Orchard’s retail showcase on the first floor will offer shoppers a refreshing and authentic Singaporean retail experience.


15. JTC, STB and SPRING Singapore will continue working closely with industry partners such as the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFf) to further curate this space dedicated to showcasing Singaporean designs and brands, and enhancing our fashion and retail ecosystem. With the merger of SPRING and IE Singapore in the second quarter of 2018, the newly formed Enterprise Singapore will continue to build on these efforts to support the capability development and internationalisation efforts of our local enterprises, including home-grown fashion brands.

16. Let me conclude by thanking all stakeholders for their support of this initiative, and everyone present for your participation in this groundbreaking ceremony. I look forward to the new and exciting possibilities that Design Orchard will help create in partnership with our local designers.

1 Retail sector as defined by SPRING, which excludes SSIC 473 and 478. Source: SPRING estimates based on 2015 data from DOS and MOM.