Last November, long-time Orchard Road retail stalwart Tangs completed a three-year renovation of its flagship store and unveiled
fashion floors on the second and third floors, with new labels and revamped spaces.
New to the department store are apparel, accessory and shoe brands such as Aijek, By Malene Birger, Vivienne Tam, Eddie Borgo, APM Monaco, Pamela Love and L.K.Bennett.
Tangs' creative director Christelle Vaillant says of the new brands: "They're fashion forward but accessible, pleasing but not too pretentious."
Brands such as local label In Good Company, which Ms Vaillant notes hits a sweet spot of pricing and modern design, occupy prominent spaces on the women's fashion floor.
Online multi-label retailer La Prendo rotates merchandise in a pop-up area. Reclaiming the relevance of the department store within a consumer market filled with other choices - from online shopping to overseas purchases - is what drove the revamp, adds the Frenchwoman, who came on board Tangs last August.
Besides new brands, there are new services and food options to improve the customer experience, such as the pH Lab for hair treatments, the m'pir nail bar and The Providore bistro on Level 2. Select brands from the beauty floor also have private salons on Level 7 for facial treatments.
Ms Vaillant was a former Paris-based fashion designer, editor and buyer. She worked with Harper's Bazaar magazine, as well as Lane Crawford and On Pedder, to seek out the latest and most exciting brands.
She says it is not necessarily about having more brands, but the right ones. Customer feedback is key in refining their offerings as well.
"Less is more if there's good editing involved," says Ms Vaillant. "Especially because we're a mid-sized department store, like Liberty of London, as opposed to the jewel-box-like Henri Bendel or the massive emporium that is Harrods."
ROBINSONS THE HEEREN
A little more than a year after Robinsons moved into The Heeren, the department store's flagship outlet is already re-balancing its assortment of wares to better gel with customer demand.
Some of the high-end brands, which previously made up about 10 per cent of the fashion offerings, have exited, and the store is bringing in more contemporary and accessible labels in the price range of $200 to $400.
Robinsons general manager of merchandising Ivy Teo says there will be about 20 new exclusive brands coming to the store in March, including Rachel Zoe shoes and Paul & Joe menswear.
When the store first opened in November in 2013, it carried a number of high-end brands, where the items would cost thousands of dollars.
This alienated some shoppers used to more accessible pricing. The store has since been "re-balancing the assortment" and designer brands, such as Sergio Rossi and Alice Temperley, are being replaced.
Mid-priced lines, such as The Kooples, Zadig & Voltaire, Dune and Schutz, are doing well, says Ms Teo. Also doing well are more affordable bridge brands of designer labels such as See by Chloe.
The store aims to eventually have bridge brands comprise about a quarter of its fashion stock. "We want to be different, but balance exclusivity with accessibility," says Ms Teo, who has been with Robinsons for three months.
The Singaporean previously spent several years in Beijing franchising international brands such as Givenchy and Mango. Before that, she had worked for Robinsons department store for 15 years.
Regional brands, such as Korean menswear labels Mindbridge, The Class and Basic House, are also a good way to offer differentiated products at a good price, she adds.
The store will set up clearer signs for each brand, so shoppers will find what they are looking for more easily.
"We won some and we lost some," says Ms Teo about the response of their customers when the new store opened.
However, the store will continually respond to their customers. "We'll bring in what's hot and replace what's not."
Department store Metro opened its new Centrepoint location last November and, with it, a more fashion-conscious outlet compared with its other stores.
The store offers about 50 new fashion and beauty brands, but the emphasis is on three new in-house labels - Jo Burton, Kurt Woods and M Maison - which debuted with the new Orchard Road store's launch.
All three brands offer menswear and womenswear, but in different styles.
Jo Burton focuses on British-inspired tailoring, Kurt Woods consists of more trendy, urban ensembles, and M Maison uses fabrics such as cotton and linen for nature-inspired looks.
These brands provide customers with more choices, as well as value, says Metro general merchandising manager Belinda Toi.
The prices range from about $50 for a shirt to $500 for a suit.
The other new brands may not necessarily be well known, but they prove the point that customers do not necessarily have to pay high prices for good items, she adds. Some of these brands are Only & Sons, a Danish menswear brand linked to Vero Moda; John Smedley, a British heritage brand; and Container, a Thai leather-accessories brand highlighted previously by hipster design bible Monocle.
"The goal is to make Metro Centrepoint a fashion and lifestyle destination," says Ms Toi, who has spent more than two decades in department-store retail.
Metro Centrepoint also boasts a new nail bar with MD Dermatics and a shop-in-shop run by hip barber Sultans of Shave.
Additional services, such as monogramming and furniture customisation, also help the store to stand out, she says.
The "silent salesmen" - visual merchandising - are also put to work, with custom lighting that differentiate sections. There is a chandelier of whisks in the kitchen area, for instance, and a fixture made up of trumpets in the menswear section. Restored and bespoke props and furniture which are placed throughout the store are also for sale.
"The store was a bit tired previously. We wanted to bring fashion and beauty to the forefront with this store," says Ms Toi.
This article was first published on Jan 16, 2015.
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