Here at The Outsiders Co., we are inherently drawn to bold brands who aren’t afraid to think out of the box. When we heard about the local label, Reckless Ericka, we knew we had to find out more based on their quirky name alone.
Helmed by Afton and Louis Chan, Reckless Ericka made its first break into the local fashion industry in 2009 and has since been featured on local and regional runways.
We caught up with the two masterminds behind the local brand at their cosy studio along Aljunied Road, to find out what the last ten years have been like for the label.
Reckless and Raring To Go
Prior to their debut at Singapore Fashion Week, Reckless Ericka was operating from a home studio. Right from the start, their quirky designs had already begun to catch the media’s attention, which grew their customer base after an increasing number of Singaporeans discovered their label.
Reckless Ericka officially launched their brand after they released a capsule collection for Singapore Fashion Week. Shortly after, co-founders and life partners Afton and Louis opened their first brick-and-mortar store at the now-defunct Stamford house.
“We were young, and really reckless back then,” she recalls with a smile.
Who is Reckless Ericka?
Perhaps Reckless Ericka’s brand story is already narrated through the naming of the brand itself.
The name “Reckless Ericka” was inspired by the character Ericka in Paul Arden’s Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite.
Ericka is a free-spirited character who often does what she wants and learns from her experiences.
Louis and Afton were inspired by the book and explained that they wanted to have a “reckless spirit when it comes to design.”
Creating Pieces That are Fuss-Free and Functional
Reckless Ericka is one brand that truly marries quirkiness and quality seamlessly.
“Our goal is to make clothes for women who do not want to overthink dressing up. It’s easy to layer our dresses, it’s ready for them to grab and go without much ironing — really quite hassle-free.”
Reckless Ericka uses Tencel fibers for many of their pieces, a material that is less prone to wrinkling.
“I don’t like to iron — so I can imagine that other ladies wouldn’t like to as well,” she laughs.
Patrons of the label can say goodbye to confusing laundry and aftercare instructions since all of Reckless Ericka’s pieces can be machine-washed.
You could say that Reckless Ericka’s brand promise is to create fuss-free, functional pieces that remain expressive and creative. Their collections feature mainly A-line silhouettes, as opposed to figure-hugging pieces.
“Our signature looks are very layered, we like to balance drapes and structured pieces.”
“I like to work with a lot of fabrics and volume. I actually like to work with menswear material — it’s heavy and has the right volume.”
Pieces that were made with menswear apparel include pleated skirts. Afton explains that menswear material provides sufficient volume to achieve defined, straight pleats and a smart, structured silhouette.
Afton places the modern woman at the forefront of her design process and has designed several pieces that can be worn in a few ways.
Doing so allows customers to be creative and gives them the option of wearing their dresses or skirts another way — again, achieving functionality in a fashionable manner.
Afton acknowledges that the brand used to feature styles that “were more wild” in their early days. Though Reckless Ericka has since mellowed down to offer more subdued designs, the character of the brand remains prominent through the bold and playful streaks in their pieces.
Staying True To Their Design Roots
For a good few years, Reckless Ericka sold their collections at various department stores islandwide, in addition to having their brick-and-mortar store at Orchard Central. The label has since pulled out of department stores and closed their physical store, to readjust their brand focus towards design.
“The majority of our clothes had to adhere to mall requirements,” recounts Afton. She admits that selling her designs at department stores imposed some restrictions on the brand, yet allowed them to expand their customer reach.
Afton explains that operating from the studio allows both herself and co-founder Louis to channel more time and energy towards the creative side of the business.
“By not being tied down by requirements and restrictions, we are able to focus more on design projects and collaborations.”
“We’re now in our 10th year, so we really wanted to find our own voice — to come back to our design roots.”
Being The Alternative Voice to Fast Fashion
Reckless Ericka prides itself on being the “alternative voice to fast fashion” — or being a slow fashion label, as Afton terms it.
Afton showing me how she meticulously drafts each piece before sending them to a trusted manufacturer
“We draft every piece,” says Afton, as she continues to explain that unlike fast fashion houses, every piece is measured and designed from scratch.
“Everything is done in-house. We conceptualise each collection with a story.”
During my visit to the studio, I was afforded the privilege of previewing their special National Day capsule, featuring a series of skirts and dresses that incorporated locally-inspired motifs and patterns.
Reckless Ericka pays tribute to our little red dot by incorporating local elements into the design.
Notice the little chilli crabs?
“It’s not just the crabs, I was inspired by the tiles along Keong Saik Road and Emerald Hill as well. The design features a more geometric style, and isn’t very in-your-face, because I didn’t want it to look like a souvenir,” she explains with a laugh.
Afton says she is often inspired by local and international architecture. She extracts these into mood boards, which inspire her designs.
When Afton sees a flight of stairs, she thinks about how they can inspire pleated skirts, while the multi-layered facades of buildings inspire her layered dresses. We can see how architecture and fashion are similar in being interactive forms of art, and how one can inspire the other.
At Reckless Ericka, the process is blended into the product. Afton occasionally opens her studio for customers to come by for fittings and to browse the latest collection.
She mentions that visitors are often intrigued by the sketches, mannequins and high shelves of drafts and materials that are stacked high against the walls of the studio.
“I’m happy to educate them on the process,” says the passionate designer, a former student from the Raffles Design Institute.
“Seeing how much work goes into each piece justifies the pricing. They know how the clothes are made, and that the pieces we sell are not simply bought off the racks”.
Moving forward, the brand will be focusing on expanding its Singapore-inspired capsule into a full collection of functional, yet fashionable apparel. TOC