At first glance, the founders of new multi-label fashion boutique Superspace - Butter Factory's Mr Bobby Luo and Mr Ritz Lim, as well as Revasseur designer Gilda Su and Evenodd designer Samuel Wong - look like a posse of clubbers who got lost on the way to the party.
But while they are dressed eye-poppingly in items such as a multi-coloured furry sweater and a rope-dripping, eye-obscuring cap, the Superettes, as they call themselves, are a group with a thoughtful vision, a far more adult bunch than the kids they resemble.
"Sometimes the shopping experience in Singapore is very ordinary," says Mr Luo, 43, in an interview with Urban this week, of the types of brands found in shopping malls.
"We wanted to create something different, something extraordinary," he adds.
The 1,800-sq-ft Superspace officially opened two weeks ago at 02-18 Orchard Gateway. The space is also shared by Mr Lim's hair salon, Ritz Salon, in a merger of fashion and beauty. The salon was previously located at Pacific Plaza.
The shop side offers almost 30 Asian and international labels, such as Bodysong from Tokyo, Chun Ting Liu from Taipei and Starstyling from Berlin. Most of the brands are unavailable elsewhere in Singapore.
Many of the labels feature bright, zany prints (characteristic of Mr Luo and Mr Lim's personal style) but some are simpler in cut and design as well.
Prices range from $59 for a T-shirt to $3,000 for a leather jacket, though the majority of wares hover around the $200 to $300 range.
In addition to the opportunity to create a space offering unique goods, Superspace also made sense logistically as a collaboration.
Ms Su, 31, and Mr Wong, 28 - both graduates of the Parco Next Next design incubator space - were looking to set up shop together but were concerned about cost and management.
Mr Luo, who started online multi-label store Nightvision four years ago, was looking for a physical retail space to grow the local segment of his clientele. Most of them were overseas customers.
The idea clicked organically while they were hanging out at Butter Factory one night early last year and they decided to open a shop together, full of labels that they loved.
They split the rent to reduce risk and share responsibilities that play to their talents, whether it is logistics, budgeting or visual merchandising. Mr Luo and Mr Lim opened Butter Factory together with Celeste Chong and Tay Eu-Yen in 2006.
Superspace, which stocks local labels, such as Revasseur, Evenodd, Feistheist and Mash-Up, alongside international ones, also gives them an opportunity to improve the perception of home-grown designs, says Ms Su.
"We can support our labels by putting them alongside global brands. It's giving them the same weight and branding them as equal," says the designer, who adds that her three-year-old Revasseur label being mentioned or grouped only in local designer features can occasionally be frustrating.
So far, the response to the store has been encouraging. Over 200 people attended the opening party and more than 1,000 people have become fans of the store's Facebook page within the span of a month. Overseas designers have even e-mailed or messaged Superspace in the hopes of being stocked at the shop.
Educating the customer and giving back are also initiatives important to Superspace, says Mr Wong.
Each rack displays a tag that explains the brand's origins and backstory, and the group plans to set up flea market-like Sundays - all within the store where emerging designers not stocked at Superspace get a chance to sell their wares and test the market.
The Superspace name - which was almost named Openspace - reflects a simple, overarching desire among its founders.
Says Mr Wong: "We just wanted to create something super."
This article was first published on May 30, 2014.
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