Image: Kapok

 

We have previously waxed lyrical about the general stores in Singapore: the multi-hyphenates - fashion-lifestyle-f&b stores - that stand out with their original concepts, focused point of view, and one-of-a-kind experiences that keep people (like us) going back. Now, we bring to you two fashion stores that boast curations just as good, and have stood the test of time in this e-commerce era.

 

  1. Kapok

Image: Kapok

 

Founder Arnault Castel is French. And because he is, how to dress up without looking dressed up is in his DNA. That ability to identify what looks good and what’s style (as opposed to what’s fashion) is spread out in all his Kapok stores (five in Hong Kong and now two in Singapore), and is one of the reasons for his brand’s success story. The other is the decision to not have any of the stores be exactly the same.

 

Image: Kapok

 

“We stock more apparel and accessories at Singapore’s Tangs outlet, while the National Design Centre’s focuses on highlighting emerging local designers, as an ode to its location,” says Castel. “We want our customers to be able to find something different at each store.”

 

Image: Kapok

 

New items are added monthly at every store. Castel makes it a mission to travel at least twice a year to countries he has never visited for new brands and new products for Kapok.

 

Image: Kapok

 

While “millennials” is the buzzword now, Castel says Kapok is for “perennials” instead - a term he explains describes people who are curious, stay current, and are defined by their interests rather than their age.

 

2. Actually

 

Image: Darren Chang

 

When you are at Actually’s pared-down, industrial-style store at Orchard Gateway (#03-18), take a closer look; you may recognise a few familiar elements from our HDB neighbourhoods. The wooden poles on which dozens of colourful Fjallraven bags hang are inspired by HDB laundry poles, and the fitting-room doors are actual refurbished kopitiam toilet doors.

 

Image: Darren Chang

 

This adventurous choice in store fixtures reflects founder Paul Khor’s unconventional edit of brands. In the generous 1,800 sq ft space is the quirky London-based label Lazy Oaf, experimental Shanghai-based label Tyakasha, cutesy Korean accessories and stationery maker Ooh La La, bold Turkish sock brand Ballonet, and even the nostalgic Bata Heritage label.

 

Image: Darren Chang

 

Before starting Actually in 2006, Khor spent more than 10 years at Sony Music. A desire for a career change made him take the leap of opening his first store at Seah Street, which quickly became known for introducing quirky, under-the-radar brands from all over the world. It was the first to bring Freitag and Edwin here - brands that Khor liked but were unable to find here then.

Can’t get enough of Actually? Khor has also opened a “fashionable outdoor” concept store named Outside, located just two units down from Actually. You know where to go this weekend (or before your next hiking trip!).

 

Art Direction: Penny Seow

Photography: Darren Chang & Vernon Wong

This story was first published in the July 2017 issue of Her World magazine.

 

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