Here at Coconuts Singapore, we’re loco for local. Especially when it’s got anything to do with food, served with a dash of the unconventional. Like the way some Singaporean brands have modeled the designs of their accessories and trinkets after old school tidbits. Or Peranakan kuehs. Or childhood games. Or coffee shop drinks.
Worlds apart from your regular, run-of-the-mill jewelry brand with gold bangles, tasseled earrings, or geometric necklaces, these 7 labels craft collections make a subtle statement. Plus, they double up as a conversation starter – because how many people do you know wear their obsession with gem biscuits on their wrist?
So if you’d like to liven up your wardrobe with some cool local references, read on and bookmark your favorites.
Founded by Shijia Wang five years ago, this labor of love is her ode to ang ku kueh, a traditional Chinese pastry made of glutinous rice flour skin with a sweet filling, otherwise known as red tortoise cake. What started out as an attempt to give life to local heritage soon expanded with Ang Ku Kueh Girls and Friends, featuring the titular character and her buddies Curry Puff Boy, Png Kueh Girl, Roti Prata Boy, and Kueh Tutu Girl.
They’re sweet, endearing and lovable, and they make appearances on everything from tote bags and travel pouches to brooches and necklaces to charm bracelets and earrings. Even if you’re not the type to accessorize, the brand also creates journals, thank you cards, stickers, and phone wallpapers around its characters.
Fancy a pair of bubble tea earrings? Maybe black coffee cufflinks are more your style. Or perhaps some kueh pie tee dangling from your earlobes. Whatever fits your groove, Klay can probably do it. We even spotted bak kwa among the mass of egg tarts, you tiao, and teh cup studs. Oh, and the brooches are just as quirky, featuring designs such as curry chicken, durian, and economic fried bee hoon with all the trimmings.
Klay’s items are only available on online retail platforms like Carousell and Etsy for now, but keep an eye out for the brand’s pop-ups at flea markets around town.
Like its name implies, Miniature Asian Chef excels in crafting tiny food replicas that look so realistic, you almost want to take a bite out of ‘em. The handmade polymer clay creations, which are painstakingly shaped, painted, and baked by the couple behind the brand, come in all shapes and familiar forms.
Charm bracelets are prettified with kuehs like lapis sagu and png kueh, while hairpins get the foodie treatment with pineapple tarts and kuih bahulu. If you prefer to spice up your workwear with unusual cufflinks, they’ve got ang ku kueh and kueh tutu ones. But the label’s ear studs are probably its most popular items – the selection ranges from curry puff and egg tart ones to ice cream sandwiches and pandan cakes to rice dumplings and even Peranakan tiles.
What started out as an experimental hobby soon turned into a handmade label for accessories, helmed by an architect husband-and-wife duo. Four years into it, and Paperdaise has made a name for itself with an adorable assortment of earrings, brooches, necklaces, hairbands, and hijab pins – some of which can be customized to your preferences.
Setting itself apart from its clay counterparts, the brand specializes in laser cut wood earrings, wooden brooches, and 3D embossed wood pendant necklaces. These take the shape of local icons like that famous dragon playground in Toa Payoh, lion dance heads, old school hopscotch outlines, and even the ArtScience Museum. Also available: floral motifs and animal illustrations for the nature lovers among us.
The little dröm store is one of those curious indie shops that you can hit up for uniquely Singaporean gifts and cool crafts. First located at Ann Siang Hill, then SOTA, the brand has since shuttered its physical space since 2016, choosing instead to stay online and pop up at selected stockists around the island.
Its knick knacks aren’t of the tacky souvenir variety – rather, they’ve got just the right amount of local flavor to be cool enough for visitors and residents alike. There’s an entire home living section filled with plates, cups, and bowls bearing the designs of our island’s landmarks and kopitiam food, as well as greeting cards, notebooks, and postcards stamped with Singlish phrases.
But since we’re talking accessories, the eclectic designs here are unlike what you’d find elsewhere. Think earrings shaped like ice kachang, laksa, retro chairs, HDB flats, and buses, alongside pins and necklaces that bear the resemblance of vintage playgrounds. Cool stuff.
Hawking its hand-sculpted “wearable treats”, thepigbakesclay molds tiny foods out of polymer clay, with an entire line-up of culinary-themed charms that you can add to your bracelet. Options include Hello Panda, chwee kueh, rainbow cakes, mooncakes, Rabbit sweets, tau sar piah, and kueh lapis sagu.
If necklaces are more your thing, ondeh ondeh, and kachang puteh both come in small globes that you can hang around your neck. Alternatively, live a little on the eccentric side by donning rings molded with the likeness of snow skin mooncakes, bubble tea, and er, abalone.
Take a trip to the past when you browse through the stylishly offbeat products of this label, which captures the spirit of Singapore in a way that blankets us in the pastel shade of nostalgia. Its lifestyle items are simple and quaint, keeping in tune with its brand name in re-surfacing childhood memories through quirky prints and patterns on bags, pouches, home ware, stationery, cards, apparel, and accessories.
Remember your quintessential Chinese essay characters “xiao ming” and “xiao li”? Here they make an appearance in a pair of Back to School earrings, just in case you’ve pushed them to the back of your mind. There’s also a whole line of mama shop studs in the form of your favorite treats, such as Yakult, Mamee noodles, and haw flakes. Plus, let’s not forget the Kopi Dabao bag that went crazy viral last year (a Teh Dabao Bag is now available, too).
So really, there’s no need to blend in with the crowd when you’ve got such unusual designs to show off.
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This article, 7 quirky Singaporean brands that design unusual accessories inspired by local food and culture, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!