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Singapore high fashion moves away from shopping malls

Times they are a-changing. For some of the city's best shopping, you need to hit the streets, estates and financial towers

From stand-alone big brands on the street to a bespoke cheongsam maker tucked in the heart of the financial district, the latest and hippest Singapore shops are now tucked in all corners of the island. 

Here are 10 top stores that prove you don't have to be a mall rat to experience the best of Singapore's shopping scene. 

Abercrombie & Fitch:

There's only one way to describe Abercrombie & Fitch's Singapore opening last December. Ab-tasitc.

With 300 branches worldwide, this coveted American casual wear retailer is finally in Singapore, bringing with it a swash of black palettes, dark mirrors and perfume-as-room-spray.

Which of course brings us to the matter of that much-publicized sexy Abercrombie & Fitch poster. It clearly didn’t offend as many as was expected, staying up right until the store flung open its doors late last year with a bevy of eight-packs. 

Knightsbridge, 270 Orchard Road. Open daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 

Ana Boutique

For top Aussie brands, hit Ana Boutique.

Australia’s not that far away, but why fork out for an air ticket when you can get the country’s cult designer labels all in one place, on Club Street?

The free-spirited designs of Natasha, princess-worthy tulles of Tutu du Monde and edgy yet effortless silhouettes of Manning Cartel are but a few of the labels that fill up this shophouse space.

In addition, owner Anh Attewell also carries bags, shoes and jewelry to complete the look.

Bigger-boned ladies take note: the boutique stocks British and Australian sizes, right up to 16.

86 Club St.Open Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m. till late. Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Flea & Trees

Flea & Trees, for all your vintage needs.

The space was a flea market before its current permanent state, although it still retains that vibe.

Vintage finds from buttons of the 1960s and collectible fabrics from Melbourne and Denmark to pre-loved clothes and accessories (for men and women), classic Christian Louboutin shoes, and a Fall 2005 Miu Miu velour bag are up for grabs here.

Husband-and-wife owners Terence Yeung and Bella Koh select the vintage they carry with precision and holistic guidance, mainly via LOHAS -- a self-imposed belief in a “lifestyle of health and sustainability.”

Blk 68, Seng Poh Lane; Open Monday-Friday 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

H&M

Donatella brought high fashion to the masses with her Versace for H&M collection.The snaking queues and overnight camps made headlines for days. But who could resist the coming of Hennes & Mauritz?

Last year's Singapore opening marks the Swedish high street fashion brand's first foray into Southeast Asia and the Grange Road flagship is one of the biggest branches in Asia to date, spanning 2,800 square meters over three floors, offering clothing and fashion accessories for women, men, teens and kids.

Apart from affordable trends, the label’s highly coveted collaborations –- pairing up with the likes of Comme des Garçons, Lanvin, Jimmy Choo and Karl Lagerfeld -- are sold out within hours of release.

In March, the shop will welcome its Marni for H&M collection. Expect a stampede.

1 Grange Road; Open daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Louis Vuitton – Island Maison

Louis Vuitton's Island Maison has become a Marina Bay landmark since opening in 2011.

Moving up even higher on the shopping rungs, Louis Vuitton made headlines here for building themselves an “island,” which opened in September of 2011. 

Of course, like most of Singapore, it’s man-made, but this glass-enclosed pavilion still stands on its own, and at one of Singapore’s most coveted addresses.

The luxury cruise liner-themed interior houses -- apart from the usual men, women and children collections -- fine jewelry, the biggest LV bookstore (yes, bookstore) in the world, travel accessories and an art exhibition space.

There are a few ways to arrive, but the private launch is by far our favorite.

Crystal Pavilion North, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Ave. Open daily 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Maison Ikkoku

Maison Ikkoku, strictly for men.

It’s all about the boys at Maison Ikkoku, which features international menswear and accessories sourced mainly from Japan, the United States, Britain and France.

Owners Thomas Ho, Janice Ong, Franz Chua and Shanie Teoh have converted their three-story shophouse into a café on the first floor, a boutique on the second, and a soon-to-be cocktail bar on the third in an attempt to bring a slice of Tokyo into Singapore.

Pick up brands like Twins for Peace, Industry of All Nations, Pierre Hardy, Publish, Orlebar Brown, Nuggets and Lad Musician.

20 Kandahar St.; Open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-9 p.m, Friday-Saturday 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Michael Kors

Singapore's first Michael Kors boutique opened in November, 2011.

America’s next billion-dollar retailer, Michael Kors has finally arrived in Singapore.

Kors called the Lion City “a fabulous shopping place not just for people here in Singapore but for everyone around the region.” And we have to agree.

The “Project Runway” judge opened his first stand-alone boutique on the island in November last year, a cream-toned 155-square-meter store outfitted with zebra rugs.

The store features an all-inclusive selection: clothes, bags and accessories from across the different Michael Kors collections.

Nana & Bird

Nana & Bird went from pop-up to permanent.

Another pop-up-store-turned permanent fixure, Nana & Bird was originally opened inside Georgina "Nana" Koh’s home in Tiong Bahru.

Together with good friend Tan Chiewling, they set up shop whenever and wherever they could (it took them as far as Shanghai) until they landed their permanent digs in the backyard of a 1930s shophouse.

The space is narrow and minimalist, yet big enough to display all their wares. On one side, an old door acts as a table for Natalie B Coleman and Urte Karalaite necklaces, porcelain rings and feather earrings. On the other, racks are filled with Aijek, Patouf, Les Filles by and Snoozer Loser.

79 Chay Yan St., Unit 01-02, +65 9117 0430; Open Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.. Weekdays by appointment only.

Ong Shunmugam

Priscilla Shunmugam offers new takes on the traditional cheongsam. Priscilla Shunmugam has a way with fabrics, and it shows.

The lawyer-turned-designer/tailor first turned heads with her batik skirts tailored to fit modern designs, but is now better known for her innovative take on the cheongsam.

No longer just working on custom orders at home, the part-Chinese part-Indian (the label’s name is a combination of her parents’ last names) now operates out of her atelier in Hong Leong Building. Reworking familiar silhouettes, she weaves traditional textile techniques into a modern wardrobe.

As orders have increased rapidly since she opened her atelier, Shunmugam now has at least a few pieces in the wardrobe she can tweak to fit any body shape.

B1-36 Hong Leong Building, 16 Raffles Quay

Seafolly

From "A" to "E," Seafolly has all your swimwear needs covered.

It took a long time, but top Australian cossie brand Seafolly finally planted its first international flagship store outside Oz in Wisma Atria.

One-piece, two-piece, hats, kaftans, totes and towels, Seafolly is a one-stop shop that looks like a slice taken straight out of Down Under: minimalist light wood boards, bright spotlights and plenty of space for kids to strut their stuff.

Buxom ladies have a wide range of choices too, with sizes right up to an E cup available.