By Eimear Elkington
Singapore has no shortage of shopping malls. Endless floors of air-conditioned clothing stores and fashion boutiques with perfectly dressed mannequins looking out from shop windows.
But there’s also underground fashion – a realm of stylish, unique and sustainable fashion – that is not on Orchard Road. From handcrafted flea markets to bloggers fashion sales, clothes swaps, thrift shops and new local designers, let us take you on an underground fashion discovery in Singapore.
MAAD Markets (Market of Artists and Designers)
The Market of Artists and Designers happens once a month and is definitely worth a visit. Housed in the Red Dot Design Museum, MAAD features over 60 independent vendors selling their original creations – from handmade jewelry to baked goods, paintings, crafts, stationary and emerging designer fashion.
This quirky, arty marketplace stays open until midnight allowing you to scoot down after you finish work or study. With a bar and local live bands you can turn a shopping trip into a whole evening’s entertainment! MAAD Markets are held on the first Friday of every month from 5pm – midnight. Red Dot Design Museum, 28 Maxwell Road, Singapore.
Zouk Flea & Easy
The famous Singapore nightclub hosts one of the city’s oldest running flea markets. Zouk Flea & Easy attracts stallholders selling everything from vintage clothes to quirky trinkets, records, hip jewelry creations, pre-loved fashion and specialty pop-up stores. Items start as low as S$5 and many prices are negotiable, so get ready to bargain. The Zouk DJs have the tunes spinning all day, so after you’ve finished browsing you can grab a beer and soak up the atmosphere. Zouk Flea & Easy is held quarterly. The next market will be 30 March 2014, 2pm–7pm. Zouk Club, 17 Jiak Kim Street, Singapore.
Public Garden (Bras Basah Bugis Arts Flea Market)
Public Garden Flea Market was developed as an alternative to traditional retail for Singapore’s independent businesses and creative entrepreneurs. The market has an indie, bohemian vibe featuring stalls with eclectic fashion, one-of-a-kind accessories, art and craft pieces, and plenty of baked cakes and cookies to give you sustenance while you browse. Public Garden is a free-spirited market with a stallholder focus on vintage and the arts, so you’re always bound to see a unique mix of treasures you won’t find elsewhere. Public Garden Market is held bi- monthly from 1pm – 7pm. (The last one was on 23 February, so look out for the one in April.) The National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street, Singapore.
Sungei Road Thieves’ Market
If you’re after a raw, colourful and vibrant market, take a step back in time and visit Sungei Road Thieves Market. Hundreds of vendors lay their goods out on plastic mats, selling everything from antiques to records, cassettes, clocks, toys and electronics. This market has been flourishing since the 1930s and is something of an institution in Singapore. It’s a particularly fascinating shopping location to bring an out-of-town tourist and there’s plenty of delicious street food around to feast on afterwards. Sungei Road Thieves Market is open daily from 11am – 7pm. You can find the market along Jalan Besar near Sungei Road, Singapore.
AWARE Book & Bake Sale
AWARE Singapore (the Association of Women for Action and Research) are busy preparing for their annual Book & Bake Sale. Head down to the AWARE Centre to pick up delicious baked goods and classic books at a fraction of store prices – from cookbooks, to thrillers, novels, textbooks, literature, kids books and Times bestsellers. You can also do your bit for the community and donate yummy home-baked goods or old books you’ve finished reading! All proceeds go to supporting AWARE’s beneficial work with women in Singapore. The annual AWARE Book & Bake Sale is on 12 April 2014 from 11am–5pm. It is held at the AWARE Centre, 5 Dover Crescent, Singapore.
Underground bloggers market
The underground bloggers market invites prominent bloggers and Singapore fashionistas to host an invite-only ‘open-closet’ style flea. The events are held several times throughout the year and showcase different bloggers at each market. Chosen fashionistas essentially open their closets for attendees to try on and purchase their pre-loved outfits and vintage finds. Held at the home of an organiser, attendees can pick from an eclectic array of clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry and accessories. The bargains are second to none with pre-loved designer items going for as little as S$2.
The details and location for each underground bloggers market varies. Follow their Facebook page to be kept up to date on the latest dates, times and blogger details.
Online blog shops
Blog platforms have given young fashionistas new reins to independently sell their own range of apparel and accessories. A blog, supplier and some cute photos is all that’s required, and many young Singapore entrepreneurs have started selling their personally-curated fashion finds to an island-wide audience. Early blogshops like Her Velvet Vase and Love Bonito paved the way for many other bloggers to get involved and the blogshop trend has gained real traction in Singapore.
Blogshops can be a great way to find unique, chic and affordable fashion, and cater to a range of different styles, trends and subcultures. To get started check out http://www.thefashory.com/, http://www.flaunt.cc , http://www.theclosetlover.com , http://www.loveandbravery.com or http://www.klarra.com
Your Clothes Friend
Clothes swaps are a fun and sustainable way to recycle your clothes, make some more room in your closet, and discover some new fashion finds. Your Clothes Friend has been organising clothes swaps in Singapore for nearly a decade and has it down to a fine art – browse and swap clothes, drink cocktails and chat about fashion with the other guests. Any leftover clothes at the end of the night are donated to community organisations, so you’re doing your bit for charity too.
Clothes swaps are held several times throughout the year and all details can be found on the Your Clothes Friend Facebook page.
F-3 Clothes Swap
The F-3 clothes swap is run every second month in Singapore and provides an avenue for women to network and swap clothing, shoes, swimwear, bags and accessories. These clothes swaps are structured and educational and include a presentation on garment design, and personal instruction on how to avoid fashion mistakes. The cost is S$50 per person and includes the clothes swap and fashion advice as well as wine, tea coffee and tapas.
Similar to a clothes swap, Chic Stash offers an online marketplace for buyers and sellers to trade their secondhand designer labels. Items are limited to vintage, classic and designer brands and you can post your pre-loved labels online to make extra cash, or buy designer at a fraction of the retail price. The Chic Stash stylists can even come to your home to help you detox your closet and find suitable items to post online.
For more information, check out the Chic Stash website http://chicstash.com/
Thrift shops, or charity shops, are the perfect location to pick up unique, vintage and one-of-a-kind fashion items at rock-bottom prices. Items start as low as S$1 and if you have a keen eye you can even uncover designer fashion brands nestled amongst more humble items. As well as clothing, shoes and accessories, many thrift shops in Singapore also stock furniture, household items, toys, books and appliances.
Thrift shopping is certainly a bargain, but the real joy is in knowing every purchase you make is helping charity organisations support the community. You can also help spread the love by donating your used but clean items – a great idea if you’re moving house or having a spring clean.
For some great thrift shops in Singapore check out:
Praiseheaven Family Megastore
500 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore (link)
62 Jalan Khairuddin (Opera Estate), Singapore (link)
96 Waterloo Street, Singapore (link)
The Salvation Army Store Upper Serangoon
309 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore (link)
QUIRKY SHOPPING AREAS
Haji Lane is famous for its local independent labels and fresh up-and-coming designers. This bright, energetic street is a joy to walk down and houses a wide array of vintage stores peddling collectables and quirky finds, as well as contemporary fashion boutiques selling Singapore-made garments and unique accessories. Just walk one street over and you’ll also find a vibrant row of colourful textile houses that have been operating in Singapore for over 50 years.
Head past the ground levels of Bugis selling souvenirs and knick-knacks and you’ll come across upper floors with varied eclectic stores selling clothing and accessories. Prices here are known to be much cheaper than surrounding malls and the range is popular with the J-Pop and K-Pop crowds. Bugis is also great to pick up budget looks inspired by famous brands – think vintage-look T-shirts, Swarovski-style rings and Chanel-esque handbags.
For Indian-themed accessories, brave the crowds and head to the first floor to pick up silvery bangles, brightly coloured beads and gold-plated necklaces. Prices start from under S$20 for bracelets and bangles to over S$200 for real gold and gemstones, and prices are much more affordable than you’ll find in surrounding stores. Mustafa Centre is also the place to look if you’re in the market for fashionable sunglasses and watches from recognisable brands.