A designer’s guide to shopping Singapore

From major fashion houses to local designers, Singapore’s fashion offering is multi-faceted, vibrant and well worth exploring.
Southeast Asia is home to some of the world’s top fashion destinations, but while cities like Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai dominate, thriving Singapore is the one  to watch. Heavyweight international designers, attracted by the city’s legendary shopping scene, flock to set up stores here, while a rising tide of homegrown talent proves that this creative metropolis is a cut above.

You can’t talk about shopping in Singapore without mentioning malls: they’re a defining part of the local landscape. Along the swanky, tree-lined boulevard Orchard Road, you’ll find Ngee Ann City, home to boutiques from many of the world’s best luxury brands such as Céline, Loewe and Fendi. Meanwhile, the premium Ion Orchard Mall stands out with its futuristic architecture, fluid glass façade and canopy which becomes luminescent at night.

There’s more to Singapore fashion than mega-malls: the city is also home to independent boutiques, fascinating concept stores, as well as a wealth of local brands and designers.

Designer Goh Ling Ling

Designer Goh Ling Ling

One such brand is Ling Wu, founded by Goh Ling Ling, who is keen to highlight what is unique about Singapore’s fashion identity. “Singapore has always been a melting pot of different cultures,” says Ling. “Since the 12th century and even earlier, the Singapore soul has been influenced by the many southeast Asian cultures surrounding it.” Made from soft leathers and exotic skins, her bags play with shape and volume in new ways. “I think my work carries on this tradition of taking inspiration from the things that surround us and turning them into something new and unique,” she says.

One of the ways in which she maintains a strong link to her roots is through collaboration with local talent. Ling recently teamed up with lifestyle brand Onlewo on a collection of bags that celebrated the city in its many guises. Onlewo, which creates textiles, provided prints depicting the architecture, culture, and flora and fauna of Singapore, which were used to wrap Ling Wu’s compact clutches.

Founded by Mike Tay, Onlewo is based in Jalan Besar, a lively neighborhood dotted with cafés and independent stores that’s recently seen an influx of entrepreneurs, agencies, and studios settle there. It is here that many upcoming designers thrive off Singapore’s creative energy.

Homegrown accessories label Ling Wu

Homegrown accessories label Ling Wu

Like Jalan Besar, Singapore style is driven by a fresh, burgeoning energy. “The city has a very young fashion scene compared to the Asian countries around us,”  says Ling. “Aesthetics-wise, we best describe the  designs as practical and chic.”

Ling Wu very much sits within the landscape of contemporary brands creating fashion for a modern, urban audience. When Ling founded the company, having inherited an entrepreneurial spirit from her mother, she realized there was a gap in the market.  “You can either buy a designer bag for a few thousand dollars or a lesser-known brand for a few hundred that has a very mature aesthetic,” she says. “I decided to make a range of bags that are modern and affordable for a busy woman like myself, who works and is a mother, and who has to multitask in her life.”

The best place to discover Ling Wu bags is at Le Salon, a stylish show space curated by Ling, where her designs sit alongside a selection of complementary brands. Ling Wu isn’t the only label based in the Holland Village neighborhood: here you’ll also find Ong Shunmugam’s atelier, one of Singapore’s celebrated womenswear designers, known for creating elegant dresses and gowns that marry traditional techniques and silhouettes with a modern aesthetic.

Lifestyle brand Onlewo’s gallery store in Jalan Besar

Lifestyle brand Onlewo’s gallery store in Jalan Besar

When it comes to shopping in Singapore, Ling recommends department store Tangs, where you can find local designers such as Aijek. Another of her favorites is Keepers: a boutique that sets out to promote local designers with a fine selection of accessories, design, fashion and more. A stone’s throw from Keepers, you’ll find Naiise, a design store spanning home, lifestyle and fashion which started out as an e-commerce site and now has various branches across Singapore. Finally, there’s Manifesto, a minimal concept store that stocks brands such as Lemaire, Opening Ceremony and more.

Creating fashion-forward designs that perfectly integrate into modern-day lives, Singapore’s brands, stores and shoppers are firmly establishing the city-state on the global style map. Visitors should probably bring an extra suitcase.

Book your stay at Conrad Centennial Singapore, located a short distance from many shopping highlights. 


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