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If you’re shopping for a friend who either works in the fashion industry or is a fashionista obsessed with all things fashion, you’re definitely up for a challenge. She’s probably someone who is exquisitely stylish, which also means she is picky, has unique tastes, and would loathe the fashion-related item you have picked out for her — if they are not up to her standards.

But don’t despair! All girls love gifts, so it’s not too hard as long as you are savvy about it. A rule of thumb? Put yourself in their shoes and consider what they might prefer. Still unsure? Here are some tips from us to help make sure you bring your A-game when shopping for your gal pal.


Go for indie brands

Photo: Instagram/nalinstudios

The first thing you should consider is the omnipresence of your purchase. Ask yourself: How many people will be wearing this piece out in the streets? If the figure is anything more than five, give it a wide berth. Your friend is likely to eschew looking mainstream. Go for indie brands instead. They are niche (i.e. less well-known) and often have fresh perspectives that can mean unique and artisanal pieces.

For tops and t-shirts, we suggest Keur Paris (which offers stitching customisation to create one-of-a-kind t-shirts) and Kule (they specialise in versatile pieces like striped t-shirts and casual shirts, as well as dresses too). If your friend’s a stylish working girl, or a lover of Phoebe Philo’s designs, visit Admise Paris. They sell suits that accentuate a woman’s figure without looking too feminine. As for jewellery, our top picks will be Nalin Studios, Shashi and Missoma for dainty, understated accessories.


Avoid fast-fashion 

Photo: Instagram/ hm

Don’t cut corners and gift something that’s cheap if you feel obliged to appear with a present during a Christmas Eve party. Trust us, your fashionable friends would rather have you showing up empty handed.

Although pieces from fast-fashion brands are affordable and stylish, they may come across as insincere or basic as a gift. However, you’re not totally barred from getting your presents from there. Go for their limited-edition items  instead, like H&M Conscious Exclusive or Topshop Boutique. They’re usually of better quality and will last through several washes.

Or make a beeline for their special collections from collaborations, which are often highly coveted (such as Uniqlo’s partnership with Alexander Wang). If you’re still at a loss, you can always go straight to the counter and load up a gift card. A gift card (especially from Sephora) always works.


Choose vintage 

Photo: Instagram/ avintagetale

There are two main reasons why fashion lovers splurge on designer goods. One is to show their appreciation for designers who painstakingly produce four to five collections each year, while the other is their quality: High-end products simply have better longevity than high-street ones.

While brand new designer products are certainly out of your budget when it comes to gifts, you can head to vintage stores which offer second hand designer goodies at a cheaper rate. Talk about getting a bang for your buck. Not just that, vintage pieces are hard to come by, so your friend will appreciate how unique the present is.

Physical stores you can visit include A Vintage Tale and Eclectic Room (both at Joo Chiat) as well as Deja Vu Vintage at Millenia Walk if you’d wish to get vintage designer clothing and accessories. For online retailers, we recommend The Fifth Collection (a local e-retailer that sells the best pre-loved designer bags), Old, So What?(an Etsy haven for vintage Chanel) and Vestiaire Collective (great as they have a wide variety of designer vintage goodies), as these online retailers provide free authentication services for your purchases before shipping them to you.

A Vintage Tale is at #02-01, 277 Joo Chiat Road, Eclectic Room is at#02-01, 162 Joo Chiat Road and Deja Vu Vintage is at #01-70 Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard.


Support local designers

Photo: Instagram/ inaperfectworld

For something a little more special, consider Singaporean brands. Not only do some brands have designs that are cool, classy, contemporary and sometimes unconventional, they are also often more affordable (yet not lacking in style). You also get to support local, so why not!

For clothing, Stolen (garments typically sport sharp, sleek lines that were inspired by Brutalist architecture) and MAX.TAN (quirky cuts, modified shapes and volume manipulation are the key details to the label’s fabrication) are our top recommendations — anything from there is sure to wow your pal.

If you’re getting something for your man, labels such as Biro (contains a collection of wardrobe staples — like denim jeans, gabardine shirts and cotton t-shirts — that are manufactured in Japan) and Dzojchen (casual and cool clothing that are street-style worthy) are two local labels you have to visit. As for accessories, e-stores like In A Perfect World (for quaint gold jewellery) and Ashley Summer (for rattan bags) are perfect if your friends are fans of the “effortlessly chic” look.


Bonus tip: Ask instead of guessing

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To make life easier, just go straight to the source and ask them. By communicating with her and discussing her likes and dislikes, you’re able to understand what she fancies better and be more likely to get something that’s a hit rather than a miss. This way, you can also shop more efficiently and stress-free.