There was a time when I associated Crocodile with the polo shirts that uncles at coffeeshops wear.
Then I received news that its VivoCity outlet has been given a facelift and
is now called a “concept boutique”.
It is even welcoming a new spring/summer collection, with womenswear – gasp!
My curiosity got the better of me. A visit was in order.
I can’t remember the last time I stepped into a Crocodile store, but this visit left a good impression. Shirts with gaudy colour combinations are thankfully absent.
Instead, there is a range of contemporary corporate wear with sharp, clean lines in basic hues like black, whiteand grey.
Think crease-free cotton shirts with subtle checks and stripes for men, and plain, solid-coloured pieces in knitand jersey cotton forwomen.
You’ll also see colour blocks – mainly in navy blue, deep green and yellow.
The modest collection of clutches, wallets and pursesmadefrom python skin also caught my eye.
They will add a touch of luxury to any outfit.
One thing to note: Its crocodile logo is still proudly displayed on the clothes.
The Singapore company has been locked in a legal dispute with French brand Lacoste over their similar logos since the 1960s, with suits and counter-suits lodged by both parties in courts around the world.
I actually think the shirts look better without the logos.
Expect to shell out at least $100 for a long-sleeved shirt made from European cotton. And python-skin clutch bag will set you back almost $800.
Suffice it to say, you’d better have some spare dough to shop here.
According to a news release, the highlight of the new store is what Crocodile calls “the gallery”, which showcases the “ever-changing products and the best of each season”.
Here, the walls are covered with small holes that allow bars to be plugged in, creating clothes rails of various lengths.
Pretty clever and innovative, I must admit.
Also worth raving about is the dressing room.
Access to the spacious cubicle is through a swivel door, which can be secured with a luxurious-looking brass latch.
Full-length wall mirrorsmakethe space, which houses a small vintage couch, appear bigger.
The small boutique boasts four of such rooms – well done, I say.
While the style, layout and offerings are top-notch in my view, service hit a snag not long after I stepped into the store.
After picking out a pure-white peplum shift dress, I was told it wouldn’t fit me.
“I really don’t mean any offence, ah,” warned the enthusiastic salesman wearing a bright bowtie.
“But this dress would fit someone with...more generous assets,” he said in an unapologetic tone.
Taken aback momentarily, I insisted on trying on the piece.
Sadly, he was right.
It was too loose at the bust, but just right at the hips. Later, he acknowledged that the cut of the dress did not flatter Asian women in general.
But I’m not sure I appreciate a critique of the size of my chest, especially from someone I’ve just met.
Even if he is absolutely right.
Also, to gauge my size, sales personnel – one male and later one female – encircled my waist momentarily with their arms.
They did it so naturally I didn’t even have time to react. They did remark: “Don’t mind, ah.”
As well intentioned as it is – and I suppose they did ask me not tomind– it still felt weird.
But aside from these gripes, I felt well taken care of at Crocodile.
I was told to take my time trying the different pieces, some of which were recommended to “fit my body type”.
More importantly, frowns were kept at bay when I walked out of the store without buying anything. Well done again.
Crocodile’s makeover is significant and noticeable. I was pleasantly surprised and my view of the brand has changed for the better.
Certainly worth a visit.
CHECK IT OUT
WHERE: VivoCity #02-237/238
WHEN: 10am to 9.30pm daily.
HISTORY: Crocodile was established in Singapore in 1947 by Dato Dr Tan Hian Tsin. It has stores in many Asian countries including Taiwan, Malaysia, and Korea.
This article was first published in The New Paper.