I’m a self-confessed travel junkie. I’ve gone on freeze-your-butts-off trips in the dead of the winter to Iceland, hopped on a 3.5-hour plane ride to Hong Kong just to eat dim sum and returned the next day (cheap airfares!), and even flown to Bangkok because I missed its unique streetwear brands. Covid-19 has absolutely upended all travel plans. But for someone like me who loves scouring through shops in lesser known alleys to discover hidden gems in a city, here’s another way to do it.
Sift & Pick has a one-of-a-kind offering for local residents who are yearning to travel but are stuck at home. (Of course, if you’re still keen on discovering new places locally, Singapore is no short of interesting locations!) As the name implies, Sift & Pick curates original, authentic, indie brands from around the world. They have access to 15,000 products from 400 brands in over 15 countries on this unique online shopping marketplace.
Some of Sift & Pick’s best sellers are from Korea, with brands like MARHEN.J, ALICE MARTHA and KITCH STUDIO providing fashionistas with a wide range of styles at different price points. It’s a good way to avoid fashion doppelgängers, given Sift & Pick’s niche selection. Some items are exclusive to the Singapore market, and available only via the e-commerce platform.
Beyond bags, Sift & Pick offers accessories, beauty and lifestyle products. I especially love these classic Red Green Studs Hexagon Earrings from Pyonta which give a subtle twist to any office outfit, and this pretty handmade Botanical Aroma Wax Sachet from Salon de Briller, both from Japan.
Besides curating indie products, Sift & Pick partners with different countries for concurrent product and event launches. For instance, when the Bangkok Design Week 2021 opens in Thailand, Singaporeans can partake in this event virtually and find the products on Sift & Pick. Online shopping using a tablet can provide you with a seamless experience, plus you can do it on-the-go!
Here are some of Sift & Pick’s top choices from the Bangkok Design Week 2021:
1. TA.THA.TA – Journey with environmentally-friendly tote bags
Founded in 2012 by two graphic designers, Potae and Kivi, who were acquainted as coworkers, TA.THA.TA began as a hobby for a year before the creative duo decided to take the leap into business together. Having an eye for fun designs and the skills to create functional, stylish backpacks and tote bags in a whole range of colours were what made TA.THA.TA special (yes, they sewed the bags themselves!). The designers revealed that they started TA.THA.TA with only 5,000 THB (about S$210). This risk-taking nature is definitely in line with the brand’s versatile, adventurous trait.
TA.THA.TA’s range of Relife bags are made from recycled plastic bottles – a great way to save the earth while globetrotting. Their bags are also made of water-repellent canvas to beat the weather elements. I recall the dreaded moment when I opened my bag after a morning of heavy snow in Norway and discovered that everything was wet. Weather-proof backpacks and tote bags are a must, if you are an avid traveller like me!
My personal favourite: Swift Relife Love Kills Bag (8 colours) at S$146.70. Roomy enough to fit a 15-inch laptop, with multiple ways of wearing. Plus, I recycled 24 plastic bottles with this. Furthermore, I can customise this tote bag with selected embroidered patch sets or add my name to the bag with nine designs to choose from.
2. Neoweave – Think-out-of-the-box acrylic clutches
Not all acrylic clutches come in boxy shapes. Neoweave, a Thai accessories and lifestyle brand founded in 2017 by Patcharaporn Taechalertpaisarn, uses distinct geometric shapes, architectural forms, and striking bold colours as its design ethos for durable acrylic clutches. Fashionistas can go all out looking for matching jewellery to complete their look with these! Her unconventional, award-winning products, inspired by Bangkok’s skyline and architecture, create a new sense of luxury.
Interestingly, Neoweave was started as a final project from Patcharaporn’s Master’s Degree in Design in the United Kingdom. Her first collection was selected for exhibition at The New Designer 2018 fair in London. Following the positive reception, Patcharaporn further developed the designs which were then put on the market a year later.
My personal favourite: Light Sukhumvit Case – Blue at S$252.15. It’s classy, versatile, and perfect for a girls’ night out!
3. Aibelle – Accessories are much knitted
Talk about knitting, and the image of my grandma sitting in the living room with rolls of pastel-colour wool on her lap appears. Quite the opposite for Aibelle, a funky sustainable fashion brand which uses leftover cotton yarn from knitting production factories to create colourful handbags, straps and earrings. Aibelle is founded by Aib and Belle, two college friends who graduated in industrial design with a specialisation in textile design.
The business started when one of the designers, Belle, visited a factory for her master’s thesis project and found stocks of unused yarn still in good condition. With their knowledge of the hand-knitting machine and by inventing new techniques, they turned surplus yarns into colourful ropes, producing unique bag straps and handbags.
The brand’s focus on bold colours, self-confidence, positivity and energetic vibes speaks to people from all walks of life. It’s great to know that we are helping the earth while spreading cheer with these unique crafts. Win-win!
My personal favourite: Kara Mini - Chilli Red at S$45.40. This lightweight shoulder pouch is functional and stylish for a day out. I love how the blue tones accentuate the red. The jolly hues do achieve the designers’ dream to spread more happy vibes through colourful and sustainable fashion.
4. Wax Valley – Smell the right atmosphere
Miss the feeling of being on Pattaya beach? Or want to recreate the spa ambience? You can select from a wide range of organic soy wax candles at Wax Valley, with its promise of “making the atmosphere yours”.
Apichat Kochapatsap founded Wax Valley in 2017 based on the firm belief that a person’s internal well-being and his environment greatly influence each other. There is an indisputable sense of contentment, when you cosy up in a room with a light candle and the fragrance of choice wafts through the air.
Apichat first started making scented soy candles while he was working and holidaying in Australia, before launching his artisan brand in Thailand. The scents of Wax Valley’s organic soy wax candles are largely inspired by nature, spaces as well as iconic Thai locations and elements. To Apichat, making a candle harmonised with his personal way of life – a slower pace is better. I fully agree. Now, which candle scent should I choose to harmonise my inner self with my surroundings?
My personal favourite: Soy Candle Siam Disc Blend Travel Tin - Jasmine & Citrus at S$13.80. Miss Songkran? Smell it too!
5. Fabritt – My walls are blooming!
If you are looking for the perfect housewarming gift for a friend, how about a piece of art with augmented reality technology from FABRITT? FABRITT is a design platform that works with a network of Thai and foreign designers to showcase, produce and sell their work, providing stylish home decor and lifestyle products at affordable prices.
Animated via a mobile application, ARTIVIVE, these unique home décor art pieces would surely blow the guests away and be an immediate talking point. Watch how it works here.
My personal favourite: I had a hard time choosing between Dream Flower (Ar Special Edition) and Aussi Meadow (Green Ar Special Edition), both at S$87.10. Would you prefer to watch a blooming botanic or the mesmerising fall of petals?
Spice up your online shopping experience with Sift & Pick
These brands from Bangkok Design Week will be available at Sift & Pick’s online store. If you’d like to check out other indie streetwear or designer brands around the world, head over to Sift & Pick’s flagship outlet at Changi Airport Terminal 3, #B2-35! You can get your hands on a range of other brands, such as MARHEN.J, KOIMOOI and ORYANY, too!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, Grace Cheung.
About Grace: A Hong Kong-born Singaporean who previously lived in France and the United States, Grace often wonders where and when her next adventure will be. For now, until the global travel restrictions are lifted, she gladly browses through online platforms and blogs to satisfy her wanderlust.