Tiong Bahru is known for its sordid past, its Art Deco public housing estates and its bevy of hipster cafés. Although Books Actually and Strangelets – located in the heart of the Tiong Bahru Market – have become household names in Singapore, many people don’t realize that Tiong Bahru is also a great place for stylish clothing stores that feature a healthy dose of vintage, one-of-a-kind items. So, next time you’re in the neighborhood for your weekend brunch fix, be sure to check out these vintage boutiques and add something unique and daring to your wardrobe.
Nana & Bird is operated by schoolmates Georgina Koh and Tan Chiewling. According to Koh, they named their boutique after the nicknames their friends in junior college gave them; ‘Nana’ for Georgina’s friends who were too lazy to say her full name and ‘Bird’ because Tan is chirpy and loud. Stepping into Nana & Bird is like stepping into the closet you’ve always dreamed of having. The collection here consists of local and international brands – an eclectic mix of shiny jewelry, kitschy tote bags and patterned dresses – all carefully chosen by Koh and Chiewling; for they know what their customers will love, because it’s what they would buy for themselves.
Tucked away in an HDB, Dustbunny Vintage, an authentic vintage shop, is both out of place and easy to miss. Until recently, the store exclusively carried vintage dresses and handbags that founder Pia Chew has picked up on her travels all over the world. Last year, Dustbunny Vintage decided to increase their product line by creating their first collection of in-house products. The idea was to create vintage-inspired dresses for women who want clothing that shows off their love for everything vintage, but in a more affordable price range. The homegrown collection covers fashionable dress styles from the 1940s to 1960s, including sailor shift dresses, pencil skirts and Peter Pan collars. Production is kept small so you don’t have to worry that you’ll see other people wearing the exact same dress as you! Besides dresses, Dustbunny Vintage has an impressive collection of vintage handbags as well. This collection is tailored to every customer need, ranging in price from less than $50 for unbranded clutches to over $2,000 for authentic Chanel and Hermès bags.
Iora is a Singaporean clothing brand with remarkable similarities to Charles & Keith, the local brand that has been making international waves. They both had humble beginnings and they’ve both grown into international retailers thanks to similar values on the importance of fashion being affordable. Iora first opened as a retail shop in 1998 in Chinatown. Today, the Iora pieces are designed in Singapore and made in Hong Kong, before being distributed to 25 retail locations across Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines. It’s only a matter of time before the brand takes further steps and branches out to the rest of the world.
One of the coolest shops to grace this little island, Flea & Trees is run by husband and wife team Terence Yeung and Bella Koh. Flea & Trees is great because the store carries the most random assortment of things, but everything has been carefully chosen by the couple, who suit a particular vintage, bohemian aesthetic. The store carries everything – lamps, jewelry, pins, clothes, homeware and more – all vintage of course. They also offer some not-so-vintage items, like healthy snacks, cute plants and beautiful design books. Step into Flea & Trees, and stay a while – you never know what great treasure you’ll uncover. Flea & Trees, 68 Seng Poh Lane, #o1-10, Tiong Bahru, Singapore,+65 8139 1133
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Echo of Nature
Echo of Nature was first established in Singapore in 1990. The name of the boutique is meant to evoke ideas of adaptability and individuality. The stylists behind Echo of Nature strive to create pieces where natural fabrics complement professional designs in order to create clothing that can be worn comfortably in Singapore’s equatorial heat, while simultaneously looking effortlessly stylish all day and night. These are clothes for professional women; each item of clothing is designed so that any look can transition from formal lady-boss to casual fashionista with the ease of few small accessory changes. Echo of Nature, Tiong Bahru Plaza #01-139, 302 Tiong Bahru Rd, Tiong Bahru, Singapore, +65 6352 2053