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updated 2 Sep 2014, 17:06
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Vintage party girls
by Joy Fang

IT’S almost time to ring in the New Year! And, yes, there are loads of parties to attend – from Basement Jaxx at Zouk to the multiple offerings along Clarke Quay, not to mention the numerous house parties you must have been invited to.

But if you haven’t picked out your New Year’s party threads yet, you might be panicking. After all, it’s always a huge task to choose the right outfit, for the right price.

Though Orchard Road is lined with choices, here’s a radical suggestion: Go vintage. Not only will you avoid that potential “Oh my God, she’s wearing the same Mango dress as me” moment, but you’ll flaunt your style smarts, too. (Actresses like Scarlett Johansson, Chloe Sevigny and Nicole Kidman have, over the years, helped make vintage a hyper- fashionable word again, by wearing old-but-classic pieces to various award shows.)

In Singapore, owners of vintage stores say that the scene is hotting up, as more Singaporeans in their 20s to those in their 50s rediscover the value of pieces from a distant era.

At six-year-old Dustbunny Vintage, which lies nestled between a coffee shop and a hair salon in Bukit Purmei Housing Board estate, you’ll find clutches of cute antique items, vintage dresses and accessories.

Its owner, Ms Pia Chew, 35, said the number of clients patronising her shop has doubled this year compared to two years ago, because an “increase in media publicity has led to more interest in vintage”.

“Women sometimes leave department stores frustrated because of the cookie-cutter appearance of most mass-produced garments, or the limited range of styles,” said Ms Chew, who also works full time as a marketing manager.

And more Singaporean women are realising that vintage clothing is an attractive option, because of the “first-rate quality, luxurious fabrics and incredible hand-stitching”, said Ms Chew. They can also find a style that really “belongs” to them, she added.

“There is something magical about wearing a piece from yesteryear, which has history and a touch of glamour,” she said.

She usually buys her goods – dresses, handbags, jewellery and shoes from the 1950s to 1980s – from places such as the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.

Prices range from $40 for a 1960s shift dress to $250 for a dress from Bill Blass or Geoffrey Beene. You’ll also find bags – $55 for a 1950s day bag to $450 for vintage Gucci, Bottega Veneta or Coach (all of which are at least 25 years old).

“Vintage outfits are perfect for ringing in the New Year, especially if you are going to a retro- themed party. If you are looking for something fun and unique, they are a good investment as they are classic pieces,” she added.

If pieces don’t fit perfectly, fear not. Alteration takes only one or two days.

Mr Yap Chang Yen, 32, owner of The Attic at Far East Plaza, said that vintage has always been a niche market in Singapore. His tiny eight-year-old shop, tucked away in the mall, is a treasure trove crammed to the seams with nostalgic knickknacks, clothes and decorations from Europe and the US.

A vintage piece, to him, has to be “at least 20 years old, iconic and of good design”. It should also be able to represent the era in which it was produced, he said.

Mr Yap saw a 15 per cent increase in sales this year compared to last year. Even if one is wearing a modern designer dress, you add a vintage touch by carrying a vintage piece, he added. Look for 1960s vintage bags from Christian Dior or Valentino at his store.

For Ms Lovie Wong, 28, the owner of Dulcetfig in Haji Lane, vintage is attractive because it has a story to tell. “For example, when you wear a 1950s swing dress, it allows you to picture the woman who once danced in it. You can put yourself in her shoes,” she said.

For New Year’s Eve, she will be donning a 1960s mod dress and a 1950s Glomesh clutch, which she got from Australia.

The charm of wearing vintage pieces, she added, is that you get to continue their stories, adding to the history of each piece and ensuring that those stories don’t get lost in time.

Where to Shop

Dustbunny Vintage

Where: Block 112, Bukit Purmei Road, #01-203, tel: 6264-4200.

Closed on Sundays

You’ll find: Vintage from the 1950s to 1980s. Dresses cost from $40 to $250, leather wallets at $40, and handbags from $55 to $450. Accessories range from $15 to $215. Brands you might find here include Bill Blass and Emilio Pucci.

Dulcetfig

Where: 41 Haji Lane, tel: 6396-5648

You’ll find: Vintage from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as dresses from the Dulcetfig label by owner, Ms Lovie Wong.

Dresses range from $59 to $180, handbags from $50 to $200 (from Goldcrest and Aigner), and accessories from $30 for vintage earrings to $200 for necklaces.

The Attic

Where: Far East Plaza, 14, Scotts Road, #04-146A, tel: 6732-3459

You’ll find: Vintage collectibles, designer home-decor items, clothes and accessories from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Prices are unavailable, though you can call the store for more information. Rentals are available, from $60 to $80 for an outfit.

Loft

Where: 16A, Haji Lane, tel: 6297-0169. Closed on Tuesdays

You’ll find: Vintage from the 1980s, and leather handbags from the 1950s to 1970s.

Dresses range from $49 to $189, and handbags from $80 to $200. Jewellery costs from $30 for a ring to $60 for necklaces or bracelets.

joyfang@sph.com.sg


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