Discover The Best Of New Local Fashion And Food at Keepers

05 March 2018

The word ‘keeper’ has a few meanings. Two of them inspired jewellery designer Carolyn Kan, 45, to give the name Keepers to her passion project – now a permanent store at the National Design Centre (NDC) showcasing and selling wares by local designers.

“A keeper is a curator or protector of something,” says Kan. “People who support local designers are keepers, because they are supporting and preserving local crafts and craftsmanship.

“It has another meaning: Designers who are creating things of value are also keepers, because colloquially, a keeper means someone who is really valuable or worth keeping.”

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Keepers is not new, although its first permanent location at the NDC is. It’s been a labour of love since November 2011, when it began as a one-day pop-up  showcasing five local designers in a shophouse at Newton Circus, which also housed Kan’s own jewellery label, Carrie K.

Kan started Keepers as a thank you to the design community which guided her when she started Carrie K., and made a commitment to hold a pop-up every three months. “We have never missed a quarter. And what still surprises me is that not only did we never run out of interesting designers and content to showcase, the pool has grown, and it’s grown to a level – in terms of calibre – that I would say is completely international already.”

The pop-ups led to an invitation to the George Town Festival in Penang in 2013. That caught the attention of the Singapore Tourism Board and led to a five-month gig – which was extended to 16 months – in a 4,200 sq ft space at the junction of Cairnhill Road and Orchard Road. It drew more than 100,000 people in the first five months, and ended in January 2016.

With each pop-up, Keepers became bigger and more successful. One of them was on a weekend in May 2017 at the now-defunct New Majestic Hotel. The two-day event attracted 6,500 people (well beyond the expected 2,000), crashed the air-conditioning, brought together more than 60 local designers and artisans, and led to a chain of collaborations among those who met at the event. “People still talk about it today. The response was phenomenal,” says Kan.

By Rachel Tan, Her World, February 21, 2018. First published in Her World February 2018. Photography: Frenchescar Lim, assisted by Sherman See-Tho. Art Direction: Penny Seow. Hair & Makeup: Hongling Lim using Schwarzkopf Professional Osis+ and YSL Beaute

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