Slinging Around Singapore

The amount of catch-up I have to play to relay the events of the past few days where I've been taking a look at the roster of Southeast Asian designers gathered up for the second edition of the Blueprint trade show held in Singapore.  It makes it all the confusing that I've actually departed Singapore and am now in Tokyo.  Still timing is no issue when it comes to discovering labels that hopefully people on the other side of the world won't have tapped into yet.  

From the previous post, it might look like I've just spent my days stuffing my face (well ok…a disproportionately large chunk of time was indeed spent scoffing…).  In two hours I did a rather whirlwind shop tour that was actually meaningful work as well as making me marvel as to how such a small country can pack so much in fashion-wise and it all stem from a similar generation, similar mindset.  It needs to be emphasised that Singapore is a dot on the globe, a country that is half the size in km2 of London which makes it all the more mind-boggling to discover a breadth and trail of young designers, shops and creatives who are all so extraordinarily enthusiastic in supporting each other's endeavours.  Perhaps the diminutive size of Singapore is precisely what fosters this tightness and likewise extends to supporting designers from neighbouring Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.  

I must warn you that this is a very flimsy guide as we had so little time to walk through the city (despite the size!) and there are some grave omissions but I still came away with a slew of labels to look up, track and have on my radar from just the three stores here, a good indication of the calibre of selection…


Front Row is a powerhouse combo of shop and sales/PR agency that has reaped the rewards of its contribution to fostering Singaporean fashion talent by settling in the prestigious location of Raffles Hotel, a place that is synonymous with Singapore for many people, no matter how scanty your knowledge of the country is.  It's a bit of an odd concept for me, hanging about in a hotel to shop in cool boutiques considering that my idea of hotel fare are fine jewellery labels and terrible gift shops.  In Singapore, I'm told it's quite the norm and Raffles in particular have scooped the creme de la creme with Front Row as well as a stellar menswear store called Surrender (I'll let Steve talk up that one…).  Front Row is also responsible for bringing A.P.C. to Singapore which is attached to the Front Row store at Raffles, but of course I didn't come half way around the world to go to A.P.C. as lovely as that is…    




I immediately sensed that the store has devoted a good amount of time to nurturing local designers, not only selling their work but representing them in sales and PR too.  Jonathan Seow is actually the lone Singaporean designer name I had floating in my head prior to this trip and that's only because I've been wearing this blue gingham and stripe t-shirt from his W.A. diffusion line non-stop since I picked it up in Kapok in Hong Kong.  


Jonathan himself actually spearheaded a talent-spotting project which developed into the +9 collective, a group of Singaporean designers that were just beginning to spring up.  One of them is demisemiquave, currently stocked in Front Row, had some interesting print work in their S/S 11 collection… 


In addition to Singaporean talent, regional labels such as Thailand's Greyhound also gets a supportive nod… I love the landscape motifs in their current S/S 11 collection (I've noticed that many South East Asian designers seem to skip out on A/W collections which I put down to the climate of the region…).  Suffice to say, the one thing that came out of Blueprint was that Bangkok and Jakarta are most definitely fashion hubs that I also hope to discover more of…   


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Hong Kong also gets a look-in with accessories by Hoiming who have made a signature style out of lopsided angular bags… 


My personal fave Heavy Machine shoes were also present.  Like I said before – the combination of maximum design AND comfort makes them a retail doddle… 


Japanese-made glasses by Frency & Mercury completes the Asian trip…


Their more 'international' selection massive tempted me despite the fact that I knew I was heading over to the shopping mecca that is Tokyo… especially this United Bamboo camel-print dress and Cosmic Wonder Light Source bag…

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…and this uncharacteristically short wrap-over quilted Ikat skirt by Christophe Lemaire, a snazzy layering device in my eyes…


Front Row have also just recently printed a magazine called Almost Everything, to celebrate five years of Frowing.  The diverse content and print quality was mighty impressive for what is an in-store publication and I like the intimacy it creates as it asks friends and customers of the shop to contribute.  In-house print expressions seem to be on the rise in Singapore as Asylum, another excellent store which I unfortunately missed out on seeing, have also released a monograph to look back on their work as a design studio, workshop, store and record label.  



A Curious Teepee is a newbie shop, that whilst only being four months old, has already been boosted by getting a mention in last month's issue of Monocle.  I felt a little like a batty, old lady as I entered the Scape Centre Mall where the shop resides, as there were skaters whizzing about outside, and I was marvelling at the the perfect blend of 21st century teenage hang out joints (frozen yoghurt, gaming cafes with couches and other purveyors of cuteness) and musing "Ah… if only I was a teenager today…".  The local kids were probably looking at me thinking "Errr… oh dear… this MOM-type is in the wrong shopping mall…"  When we did finally get to the shop, the layout and the curation of the space put me at ease.  


A Curious Teepee is more blended between fashion and lifestyle and jewellery seems to be its particular strong suit.  Vice and Vanity are a Singaporean label that some of you might have spotted on blogs already and their unique blend of materials and influences definitely 


More local creative talent can be seen in this pop-up installation made by the agency Tofu, custom-built for the Singaporean menswear label Sundays.  You might be able to tell that with the amount of links this post comes laden with, I've been slow to get this up mainly because I've also been drawn into a mire of links and archives, eager to see what other work these agencies, creatives and designers have done beforehand and how they started. 


A group of local illustrators have also come together to draw out their thoughts themed around the topic of 'Idolism' – iconography that has infiltrated fashion…


Combining food with fashion in a foodie's paradise like Singapore seems like a complete no-brainer and so A Curious Teepee comes attached with a cafe/restaurant serving up treats like 'Basque chicken thigh, mesclun salad and mini lemon tarts'. 


I noted down some DVD titles to again discover a genre I've never even tapped… Singaporean Film.  


Of course, A Curious Teepee props up its local label offerings with a bevy of Australian/British designers such as TBA, Stolen Girlfriend's Club and We Are Handsome, whose swimwear is definitely climate appropriate for Singapore…


In addition to fashion, the lifestyle goods definitely had a youthful aesthetic that will suit the hordes of teens that pass through the Scape Centre… it's all fun, gift-friendly stuff that I myself love gawping at for hours on end… 


I was asked by the shop manager to fill out a wee form to commemorate my trip to the teepee.  Notice the spaces in between LONDON.  That's my way of emphasising how strongly I feel about my favourite city… 



I unfortunately WHIZZED down Haji Lane, unable to take the time to look at all the little boutiques that crowd this narrow street.  


I did err… have to snap this not just because of the name but because the logo had a suspiciously similar borrowing from Kingdom of Style's logo…


Again, I'm not going to tread on Steve's territory but I had to play around with menswear store Know it Nothing's window touch-screen installation that had a series of games to whazz through…


Inside, I discovered more about local label Sifr's new knitwear line ND I.  Sifr was a gem of a Blueprint find for Steve, specialising in a line of basics/tees, kind of like a Singaporean version of Sunspel but have also expanded into fuller menswear and womenswear offerings.  



Gitman Bros. isn't at all Asian but I did like this double whammy leopard print shirt that would make a nice addition to the set of menswear shirts that I'm accumulating…


A trip to Asia is not complete without the Maneki Neko lucky cat popping up every now and again…



I thought I'd end with this drunkard shot of this little fellow that was propping up the door to the beautiful restaurant/bar The White Rabbit, where I spent a night talking a little too loudly and imbibing too much vodka.  I always feel a little sad for my non-fashion relevant snaps that I take and in a city this chilled, it would be a crying shame if I didn't end this post with a more than random image… 


23 Replies to “Slinging Around Singapore”

  1. Great post! You have such an exciting life, going around beautiful places, discovering new and amazing things. Its a dream job, and you do it very well by the way:)

  2. Wow. I can’t believe u zoomed through all that in 2 hours. Seriously?/. Great write up. Think you managed to cover quite a range given the short amount of time u spent here. Enjoy yourself in Tokyo!

  3. wow, with the little time that you had, you seem to have taken in so much, I didnt know that all this existed…interesting to see the concept of the different boutiques, I will def look into almost everything, to learn a little more, tnx, have a lovely week xx

  4. Susie I hope you went to Orchard Rd and Scotts Rd!!!
    Far East Plaza on Scotts Rd (intersects with Orchard Rd) is INCREDIBLE, packed to the brim with tiny little boutiques full of local and Asian designers, and is often, I like to think, like shopping inside Lady Gaga’s brain.
    You also HAVE to hit the ion Orchard mall–it’s very difficult to navigate but it’s fantassstic. It manages to combine Miu Miu, Chanel, DVF, Herve etc. with Topshop, Zara, Mango, Uniqlo and a million little local stores stocking local and Asian brands, plus shops from Australia–Witchery, for example.
    In fact, you really should head down Orchard Rd (heading away from Scotts Rd), and check out most of the malls… the Heeren is fantastic too.

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