What do three of the coolest fashion concept stores in Singapore have in common? They were started by industry professionals who just happen to hail from different countries: Japan, France, and China. What their boutiques share, too, is a distinct, international point of view – each a unique reﬂection of their founders’ global experiences and perspectives. On the following pages, these stylish gents share their top fashion spots and names from around the world.
A parka designed by Ziggy Chen for L’amoire’s fourth anniversary.
When Jiangsu native Rocco Wu ﬁrst arrived in Singapore ﬁve years ago, the former fashion agent saw a gap in the local fashion-retail scene: “There weren’t that many artisanal and avant-garde brands available.” He opened L’armoire (French for “wardrobe”), initially stocking cult labels such as Boris Bjorn Saberi (a German-Persian designer), before adding more contemporary and streetwear-inﬂuenced brands, such as Alyx Studio and Rhude. His elegantly edgy store at Mandarin Gallery also frequently hosts events ranging from exhibitions with artists, to private events with jewellery brands.
ON A ROLL
The new menswear department at London’s Selfridges includes a skate bowl.
MIX AND MATCH
“When I was younger, I used to like this Japanese brand called Number (N)ine, which did avant-garde designs mixed with elements of streetwear. My favourite collection by them was one called Noir 2006, and a key piece was a military coat that was half wool and half leather. You see this kind of mixing a lot now, but it was quite pioneering 13 years ago.”
“Shanghai-based designer Ziggy Chen mixes Eastern culture into his designs. He creates his own fabrics, and this season features a print inspired by Vietnam. He also created a parka for L’armoire’s fourth anniversary using an existing design but ours features an exclusive colourway.”
Rocco Wu, founder of L’armoire at Mandarin Gallery.
TOP STYLE CITY
Paris. “When I ﬁrst went to Paris in my early 20s, I didn’t like it much because it felt disorganised and unsafe. But I had to go there four times a year for work, and after a while I got a feel for it, and began to love it. You can get to know about a lot of new fashion brands and designs there. I also like it because it’s multicultural and has a nice mix of arts.”
Selfridges in London, and Boon the Shop in Seoul. “I lived in London for three years while I was doing my master’s. I like Selfridges because they have a good mix of products, including luxury brands as well as avant-garde designers and streetwear collaborations. Boon the Shop has Korean and international labels, with a unique, modern vibe.”
Easy elegance by Parisian label Lemaire.
Walid Zaazaa, the founder of concept store Manifesto and former menswear designer for DKNY and Calvin Klein, has a taste for the understated and “wearable”. Opened in 2015, Manifesto specialises in clothing and accessories by brands such as APC, Lemaire and Maison Kitsune – labels that the Frenchman describes as “fashionable but also timeless”. Aside from the store at Mandarin Gallery, a second Manifesto boutique recently opened in the new Hong Kong museum-retail complex, K11 Musea. Says Zaazaa: “It’s obviously not a great time to open a store in Hong Kong, but we have to be patient; Hong Kong still offers a great opportunity.”
Retro-inflected looks by Swedish brand Our Legacy.
Lemaire, a Parisian brand helmed by Christophe Lemaire – who was Hermes’ womenswear design head from 2010 to 2014 – and Sarah-Linh Tran. “Their designs are smart and very precise. Their items look nice on the rack, but it’s only when you try them on that you understand their exceptional construction.”
STORE OF CHOICE
“Merci. It’s a concept store in Paris. It’s unique and unpretentious; it carries a lot of good Parisian brands, like Isabel Marant. The store occupies a huge space and it feels like a European street market. They also have a space where they do collaborations with artists.”
Walid Zaazaa, founder of Manifesto at Mandarin Gallery.
NAME TO WATCH
Swedish brand Our Legacy. “Unlike most northern European brands, Our Legacy isn’t minimalist. It’s strongly inspired by the ’70s and is quite unisex. My must-haves are their cool, tie-dyed cotton jersey T-shirts. We recently started stocking them, and I like that they’re not an obvious brand for us.”
Savile Row stalwart Huntsman.
STORE: COLONY CLOTHING
Many Singaporeans have a love affair with Tokyo, one of the world’s hippest and most dynamic cities. But for Japanese fashion designer Kozo Kawamura, coming to Singapore six years ago “felt fresh and exciting” after working in the fashion industry in Tokyo for nearly two decades. Taking his 17-year industry and design experience at mega Japanese fashion company Beams, Kawamura – a skateboarder and surfer – set up Colony Clothing. The expansive concept store at UE Square stocks local and overseas labels, as well as Kawamura’s own Colony Clothing line. His designs include easy-to-wear pieces such as linen separates and tailored swim shorts made of sail fabric. He explains, “My style is right between Asian and Western styles, which to me is what Singapore represents.”
Bespoke eyewear by Japanese label Nackymade.
Issey Miyake. “I didn’t use to wear Japanese labels much, but my junior staff like Issey Miyake and recommended it. The Pleats Please line is good for travel because it’s light and doesn’t wrinkle easily, and the designs are distinctive. I bought a white Pleats Please parka in Tokyo last year, and I actually got it duty-free because I have a Singapore employment pass [laughs].”
HE’S GOT HIS EYE ON
Nackymade, an eclectic custom eyewear brand created by a Japanese couple. “We’ve done trunk shows with them in a few cities overseas. The ironic thing is that I only discovered them after I came to Singapore. It was my friend, [tailor] Kevin Seah who introduced us, because he was doing a trunk show with them in his shop.”
Kozo Kawamura, the founder of Colony Clothing at UE Square.
“I like style that’s either right in between opposites, or perfectly traditional. [Savile Row tailor] Huntsman and [bespoke London shoemaker] George Cleverley are examples of real tradition. I like seeing the paper patterns or shoe lasts [moulds] made just for me. George Cleverley has many famous clients, so when I’m in their shop, I see the lasts with names on them: Charlie Watts, David Beckham, Jason Statham, and then – Kozo Kawamura. [Laughs] It makes me feel special.”