Singapore: For tomorrow's big names, head for Haji Lane

Visitors to Singapore are told to shop in Orchard Road. Yet the place to go is this little street of shop-houses. Kate Simon reports

It's vintage day in Suite Stuff on Singapore's Haji Lane. Retro numbers for fashion-conscious boys and girls adorn the rails of this boutique on a missable street off the Beach Road thoroughfare. But the pretty things scouring the racks today have had no trouble finding their way here – it's the latest place to shop.

I might have walked past Suite Stuff had I not noticed the little board at the bottom of the staircase leading to these premises on the first floor of one of the traditional shop-houses which line this narrow street. In fact, a cluster of scented candles halfway up the stairs sent me scurrying back down to double check that I wasn't intruding on an intimate soiree; that this really was a shop.

But Haji Lane is full of such conceits. Just a few doors down at Propaganda Machine, the owner, Arthur Ong, has created a "concept store", advertising the variety of goods he sells on three empty, illuminated plastic bottles artfully placed on the steps leading up to his shop: "clothes and coffee shop, music, books, whatever".

Arthur's mini emporium had only been open for a few weeks when I visited last month. And while most of the stock appeared to be clothing, he assured me more was coming and the cafe would be open once a licence arrived. We admired a display fridge that he'd put to novel use as shelving for T-shirts. "I've made it look like it's cold," he said, pointing to a carefully scratched area of the fridge's glass that did, indeed, look like frosting. "It works well," he confirmed proudly.

It is this attention to detail that makes shopping on Haji Lane so different from the retail experience offered in the high-rise shopping malls which seem to go up weekly in this city. These boutiques are intimate and the young entrepreneurs who run them are passionate not only about the goods they sell but the way they present their stock.

And since Haji Lane is the place to get the latest gear, it's also a natural showcase for Singapore's up-and-coming designers. While many shops, such as I'm Wugygege and Col:lage, import new and vintage clothes from London, New York and Sydney, others, including Niche, Dion de Cruz and White Room, try to promote local talent. It can only be a matter of time before some of these home-grown labels rub coat-hangers with Dries Van Noten and Alexander McQueen in Club 21, the micro-mall on Orchard Road run by Singapore's style guru, Christina Ong.

But for now, you can snap up pieces by tomorrow's big names at bargain prices. While fashion goods in Singapore's high-street shops cost the same as in London stores, Haji Lane's independent designers offer pieces for your wardrobe from under a tenner.

This new creative mood in conservative old Singapore appears to be infectious. Over on Dempsey Hill, the former British Army barracks has been converted into House, a day spa, cafe and bar, which opened earlier this year to provide "a one-stop locale for all your sensory needs".

It seems appropriate that the city's cutting-edge crowd should have commandeered these stark concrete reminders of colonial rule for imaginative reinterpretation for more liberal times. And, after all, there has to be somewhere to show off your Haji Lane purchases.

How to get there

Kate Simon travelled to Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board (020-7484 2710; visitsingapore.com), Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts (0800 028 3337; shangri-la.com), and Singapore Airlines (0844 800 2380; singaporeair.com). Singapore Airlines offers return flights from Heathrow to Singapore from £671. Double rooms in the Valley Wing at the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore start at £226 per night, including breakfast.



Further information

House (dempseyhouse.com).

Further reading 'Great Camps of the Adirondacks', by Harvey H Kaiser, (David R Godine) £50

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments