Back in 2011, when Instagram was not there to support small businesses, three young designers chose to debut their leather accessories brand, The Sleeveless Garden, at Chatuchak Market, which for years has been a cradle of young Thai design talent. “It’s a place where creative heads can gather to show off all they’ve got and turn their ideas into money," says Nalintip Warutai, one of the brand’s three founders.
As an interior-landscape graduate, Nalintip sees the Chatuchak neighborhood as one of Bangkok’s few hubs of outdoor living. Though the air-conditioned department stores of downtown Bangkok will always have their appeal in a city as hot as this, she says, “we kind of need a blend of both, to keep us alive.”
Chatuchak is a place where fashion takes many forms, be it foreign or Thai, hi-so or hipster. Whatever you’re into, it’s possible for shoppers to find it, and for young business minds to get their start. “We can happily sell our bags here without worrying about the rent and the risks,” says Nalintip.
This is why even today, when anybody can find an audience for their products by adding a hashtag, Nalintip still thinks it’s a great idea for newbies to get to grips with the face-to-face retail scene at Chatuchak. “Here, you will learn that reality bears no limits. Chatuchak offers authentic customers. And the opportunity to engage them in small talk provides valuable feedback about our products. It’s the real voice of the market, which, as designers, we need to hear if we’re going to take pride in our work.”
It’s already been four years since The Sleeveless Garden began, and challenges always come hand in hand with growth: “There’s a great variety of creative fashion being sold at Chatuchak, and no doubt that’s a good thing. But for designers those cool influences can easily sway you from your original self. The challenge is to choose what you should change and what you should keep.”
Surrounded by beautiful parks and some of Bangkok’s most successful corporate headquarters, Chatuchak still remains the number-one area where new fashion businesses are born and thrive.
Among the hundreds of fashion stores at Chatuchak, here are what The Sleeveless Garden favorite picks.
Does Mondays Have an Apostrophe Before the S?
This charmingly named shop is a haven for tote and tee lovers. The shop’s signature items are a variety of round collar shirts, to which Does Mondays wittily adds small embroidery for a look that’s simple yet really cute. Chatuchak Weekend Market, no. 232, soi 45/1, section 3. Open Sat-Sun noon-6:30pm
Here is another leather specialist. TA.THA.TA hand-crafts each of its products from top-quality leather, and stresses that the beauty of leatherwork comes from using it daily. Products include bags, watches, belts, camera straps and key rings. Chatuchak Weekend Market, no.012, Soi 47/1, Section 4. Open Sat-Sun 10:30am-6pm
If bare hands make you feel naked, give this inspiring jewelry shop a visit. In contrast to its name, Thammada (ordinary), you’ll find their brass works extraordinarily appealing. The settings range from alphabet plated to stones to specially designed shapes—all have quirky appeal. For more details, check out their Instagram @thammada_design. Chatuchak Weekend Market, no.291, section 2. Open Sat-Sun 11am-7pm.
Brought to you by Sansiri. Find out more about living in Chatuchak at thelinebkk.com