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Out in front


Ann Kositchotitana set up Singapore boutique Front Row without any prior experience in fashion. Stephie Tan discovers the secrets of her success

Ann Kositchotitana ,

For five years, Front Row sat quietly on Ann Siang Hill, catering for a small but selective group of shoppers. The appeal of Ann Kositchotitana’s carefully curated collections – Front Row has been compared with Colette in Paris – means the boutique is celebrating its sixth year by relocating to Raffles Hotel Arcade.

‘Front Row is a free-spirited, multi-label concept store,’ explains Kositchotitana. ‘As an independent boutique, we have the luxury of buying and selling whatever we like – we tend to stock progressive fashion labels as well as young designers. Our customers want individual pieces rather than daily casualwear and fast fashion. They come here for specific brands they know we carry and for designs they won’t find anywhere else.’

The labels these shoppers are looking for include Cosmic Wonder, United Bamboo and Woods & Woods. Notably, Front Row was the first retailer to bring cult French brand APC to Singapore. Although customers weren’t initially familiar with APC, it is now one of Front Row’s best sellers. It has proved so popular that Kositchotitana recently opened the first standalone APC store in south-east Asia, close to Front Row’s new home. ‘

APC are super-supportive and love our store concept. We are loyal to brands who take good care of us,’ says Kositchotitana. ‘Visitors from Hong Kong, Japan and Australia in particular love shopping for APC as our prices are very competitive.’

As well as stocking well-known and international labels Front Row also takes in pieces created by promising local designers to satisfy Singaporeans and visitors who are curious about new talent and who are eager to support the local fashion scene. ‘We love to discover under-the-radar brands,’ says Kositchotitana.

She takes special care when choosing the items that Front Row carries. ‘First and foremost we have to love the brand, even if it’s relatively unknown. It’s a balance between brand potential and gut feeling. We also look at the design aesthetics and quality.’

The production capabilities of the company are also taken into consideration. ‘This is important so that the brand can grow with us, it’s such a waste when an exciting label continuously flounders over production or delivery dates. We have a real commitment to the designers, some brands have been with us since we opened.’

Another exciting development for the company is its sales and media showroom, Front Row Studios, whereby Front Row acts as an agency for international and local labels. It currently represents European, US and Asian names such as Lommé, EK Thongprasert, Android Homme, Kloset and Flynow The Leather. Labels from Singapore include Utt’er, Iamwhoiam, Antebellum and Kwodrent.

Kositchotitana hopes that, with Front Row’s involvement, the retail fashion scene in Singapore will continue to scale new heights. Fashion in Singapore, she says, ‘can only get better and better’ – given that standards are already so high, this can only be good news for discerning clients.

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