Singapore’s sophisticated consumers have helped forge one of the world’s most dynamic shopping capitals. International luxury brands and emerging designers cater to their every design need in the city’s glittering shopping centres and streets. To a novice, it can all be a bit overwhelming. Thankfully a growing number of concept stores, which carefully curate their collections from local and international brands, is helping the fashion set navigate the endless choices.
A leading light is MYthology, a multi-label boutique located on trendy Club Street. Its founder Apsara Oswal believes that every garment should have a story to tell, so she stocks eclectic designers and labels that provide contrasting styles and perspectives. Best of all, they are typically not available elsewhere. ‘I do a lot of research to make sure we stock garments that aren’t in the malls,’ Oswal says. ‘Otherwise it defeats the purpose of being a “destination store”.’
Another factor in her search is that brands should appeal to the MYthology woman. ‘The common factor among our clients is that they are mostly confident, well-travelled women of today, who are willing to try something to set them apart from the crowd, even if it is in a very subtle way,’ Oswal says.
MYthology helps them to do this with local brands such as Lionel Low, known for its futuristic frocks and intricately moulded catwalk pieces. Then there’s Mad About Hue (MAH for short), a collective of artists, designers and photographers who create ‘wearable art’, as they call it. Whether on a headscarf or a summery silk wrap dress, the brand’s bold prints always pop.
Threadbare & Squirrel
Threadbare & Squirrel is located on Orchard Road, the epicentre of shopping in the city-state. The shop’s co-owner Adrian Ang designed and built much of the interior himself, using wood and industrial piping. ‘There’s a rawness and honesty to the store’s design and fixtures,’ he says. ‘Every bit of it has a little bit of us.’
It also has a lot of fashion, including more than 20 local labels, designed to cater to a broad range of tastes and profiles, ‘from those looking to make a statement to those needing something for brunch with their girlfriends’, as Ang puts it. One popular Singapore-based brand stocked here is AKA Wayward, which creates whimsical, colourful designs for men and women. Another, 20TwoThree, leans toward the modern, melding conceptually defined cuts with geometric elements and exceptional draping. From the cropped Plateau trousers for women to the Kaise shirt for men, the simple silhouettes are beautiful and timeless.
Ang says that customers don’t need to arrive with a specific brand in mind. ‘The one thing that stands out for our clients is that they’ve come to trust our selection of labels,’ he says. ‘They come to us knowing that nearly every visit will be different, and we are constantly trying to find items that will delight them and, of course, in which they will look good.’
It’s not all about the clothes. Threadbare & Squirrel has an enviable reputation for stocking quirky and hard-to-find accessories. Singapore-based Hat of Cain, for instance, specialises in hand-woven Panama hats from Ecuador. For edgy jewellery, there’s another local label, My Vintage Jewel Box, whose handcrafted earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets are inspired by origami. Stories inform the designs: the chrysanthemum necklace made of pearl and sunstone is built around ideas of optimism and happiness, while the lacy filigree orchid earrings – available in gold or silver – have a dreamy aesthetic, resembling fluffy clouds.
The General Company
The General Company was founded by a local design studio of the same name, whose team has a passion for modern artisanal products. All the items here have been chosen for their excellent design, from home accessories and artworks to ornaments and leather goods. The store has a selection of internationally made pieces while the focus is on handmade items from creatives who are based in Singapore – seek these out as they are particularly exciting.
Whether you’re after the best in big labels or hunting a new local or international discovery, Singapore’s world-class concept stores offer a wonderful cross-section of all that the city-state has to offer, allowing visitors to discover everything they need under one roof.