“A fashionista’s paradise!” everyone told me. “A hipster hangout!”
So, I’m certainly not a hipster and don’t know if I’d call myself a fashionista, but I finally checked out Haji Lane—the city’s “anti-Orchard Road”—in Singapore’s historic Kampong Glam neighborhood.
As I understand it, when Comme des Garçons opened a guerrilla store on Haji Lane way back in 2005, it “sparked a small invasion of avant-garde fashion shops.”
I admit, I was not impressed by the mass-produced polyester dresses, the faux-vintage “thrift finds,” and the designer knock-offs found in a number of the stores that I visited. That being said, this narrow street does have a handful of well-conceived, well-curated independent shops that carry local and hard-to-find international labels.
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I’ve also been told that shops open and close on Haji Lane in a blink. Soaring rents often drive owners out of business or to other locations. Here are my current must-shop stops:
Soon Lee (73 Haji Lane) for blouses, bags, jackets, cardigans, and jewelry for “smart, sassy women who love… great books and well-cut dresses.” Soon Lee reminds me of Anthropologie—oh, I how miss Anthropologie! And how I can I not love a boutique that stocks Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style illustrated by Maira Kalman?
Pluck (31/33 Haji Lane) for vintage and new home furnishings, clothing, and accessories. Owner Aisah Omar pointed out some of her favorite products to me: vintage wallpaper sourced from Germany, silkscreened throw pillow covers by Talking Textiles, handbags by ISAWAN. And Pluck houses an ice cream parlor that serves homemade ice cream and sorbet, perfect for a mid-shopping spree snack.
Boudoir-like Hadasity Designs (78 Haji Lane) for intricate, one-of-a-kind statement necklaces, cuffs, and earrings by jewelry designer Hadassah Lau. She twists vintage treasures and semi-precious stones into wearable wire art. Dear New York City friends, Hadasity Designs can be found at Callalilai (SoHo, NoLiTa, Union Square, Boerum Hill) and Hillary Flowers Designer Collective (Lower East Side).
M2 Boutique (67 Haji Lane) for Diane von Furstenberg dresses at sub-retail prices. This signboard-less, nondescript store has racks of silk dresses by DVF, Marc Jacobs, and more. Lucky sizes only. Owner May Hou gave me her card and told me that she texts her regular clients when new shipments arrive.
Know It Nothing (51 Haji Lane) and Whiteroom (37 Haji Lane) for menswear. The former carries personal favorite Engineered Garments and the latter is home to Drifters, an in-house line of tailored shirts.