Sunday, December 23, 2012
Shopping Guide - Haji Lane
I've decided to compile a few shopping guides of Singapore's lesser known shopping districts (not Orchard Road) to allow foreigners or even locals to get to know Singapore's boutiques better. Haji Lane is the first on this list, and I'll be covering Club Street/Ann Siang Hill, Tiong Bahru and some other places as I chance upon them.
Haji Lane is located just a few minutes work from the more commercial malls Bujis Junction and Bugis+, where you'd find your all too familiar high street brands. I suggest you skip those malls and come to this quaint little road instead, with colorful shophouses lined along the sides. I really like the feeling of exploring this lane - checking out its beautiful murals on the walls (a really rare sight in Singapore), peeking into the shop windows and enjoying the wonderful visual merchandising that each boutique boasts. Below are some of my favourite shops which I suggest you check out. I wouldn't say this list is very comprehensive, it's just a list of my personal favourites.
Threadbare & Squirrel
660 North Bridge Road (Bali Lane)
Threadbare & Squirrel would be the first store that I recommend everyone to visit. They stock mostly Singapore designers on the first floor where you can find Max Tan, Al&Alicia, By Invite Only, AKA Wayward, Kae Hana and several others. They have a narrow staircase leading up to the second floor where you can find a really good selection of jewellery and accessories. I especially love the ones from Mandy Wu, who is a Hong Kong designer.
73 Haji Lane
Soon Lee has been one of the oldest tenants along Haji Lane I suppose because it's been there for as long as I can remember. I love this little shop with welcoming interiors stocking local and regional designers. The shop contains a well curated selection of designers that fits in with the Soon Lee aesthetic, which is slightly European ladylike elegance and a touch of whimsy, especially embodied through their shoe selection. They also have my favourite local designer, aijek.
Located just opposite from Soon Lee, I love Wicked Laundry for its bold color palette. The clothes are mostly from Hong Kong, Korea and regional designers. Simple, clean silhouettes that are really on trend, with really kick ass shoes and bags to boot.
55 - 57 Haji Lane
Ok so this is not a fashion boutique but a design furniture store with a second storey cafe & bar concept. A Thousand Tales is the furniture store that seats in the first floor when you first enter and it is filled with tastefully selected furniture sourced from Scandinavian countries and some of them are even vintage. Cafe Fables is a cafe that operates during the day and then transforms into a bar, Bar Stories, at night. I really love the ambiance in this shop, especially its skylight, that lets in natural lighting into the store during the daytime. The chairs placed next to the constructed stone wall and just at the bottom of the wood stairs make it a perfect spot to chill and enjoy a cup of coffee all day. I suggest you check out the bar at night too for its customized drinks menu using no artificial colors or flavors.
K.I.N (Know It Nothing) & sifr
51 Haji Lane
There are several menswear boutiques along Haji Lane stocking mostly Korean imported apparel, but for some really good quality and serious tailoring, I suggest you head to K.I.N instead. KIN dresses for the well-traveled man with refined tastes and an appreciation for quality and details. The designers stocked are mostly European and American and are up and coming designers for those regions. Clothes are organized by designers on their racks and each section comes with a small tag introducing the brand and the designer, highlighting unique details of the designs. Be prepared to fork out slightly more for the quality though! Sifr is a local menswear brand that shares the shophouse space upstairs and I can personally vouch that their tshirts are really comfortable and made of quality cotton, having personally felt them and talked to the designers. These guys appreciate and understand the importance of good fit and their tailoring is precise and well engineered.
9 Haji Lane & 47 Haji Lane
Victoria Jomo should be the oldest tenant along Haji Lane - standing with two boutiques down the same lane - with more than 10 years of residence already. The more 'upscale' Victoria Jomo boutique stocks plenty of local designers and would be a good experience to those who wish to find out more about Singapore's designers. It also comes with a cute shoe corner lined up with colorful maryjanes and court heels of Thai designers and the space upstairs houses vintage costume jewellery together with a great selection of dresses.
53 Haji Lane
Once again, this is not a fashion boutique but I'd have to say this is one of my favourite stores in Singapore, ever. I feel so happy whenever I step into this cute little store full of fresh flowers, garden gnomes, handmade terrariums and beautiful homeware. I think the interior facade of the store has changed slightly since my last visit - the owner recently sold some of her furniture in the store and replaced it with new ones. I would highly recommend Shop Wonderland and Wonderland for Detailed Planners for any events that you may have, weddings especially, - they specialize in stunningly beautiful floral arrangements and flower bouquets and also Tiffany chairs rental.
70 Kandahar Street
Located slightly 'off-track' from Haji Lane is Maison Ikkoku, which is a very unique retail and dining concept store - I believe it's probably the only of its kind in Singapore - so definitely worth a visit. Walk into the first floor and you'd be greeted by the wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee, which is the house specialty. You can also enjoy light cakes and its signature Mizuki bun - which is a slice of SPAM (luncheon meat ham) in a Japanese lotus bun. Go up to level two and you will see the menswear retail space with quirky visual merchandising. Most of the labels are imported from Japan, France and other European countries and are made for men who likes dressing casual, yet presentable looks. Current themes are travel, military and sailor, as embodied by the striped and plaid shirts and leather/suede moccasins. Finally, go up one more floor for the cosy bar, where their inhouse mixologist can mix up something really good for you as you enjoy the sunset over Sultan Mosque in their outdoor balcony.
That's all of Haji Lane for you! Hope this guide would be of use to you and do let me know your feedback :)