Gateway Orchard Fashion


At the newly-opened Gateway Orchard, I noticed a long queue of young Singaporean and non-Singaporean gals and captured the moments of a “happening” which caused my curiosity.

They were joining the queue early in the morning for the “Digital Fashion Week Singapore” gift bag.

Digital Fashion Week is Asia’s highest profile designer showcase in  Singapore – 31st Oct to 3rd Nov 2014



Fashion styles in the 1960s

old wedding photoThis is a group photograph of wedding guests with a wedding couple including their bridesmaid and best man. They are sporting the hairstyle and black, thick rimmed spectacles, common during the 1960s and early 1970s. Photograph donated by Neo Siok Leng and displayed at the Heritage Roadshow 2008.

Evolution of fashion in Singapore over the ages from the “five-foot way” in Chinatown to the ” open-air catwalks” at Orchard Road, Singapore.  (Photo credit: National Archives of Singapore).
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Hair-dressing on the five-foot ways in Chinatown in the 1950s.  Permanent waves were the in-thing during the 50s and 60s.

hairdressing salon 1960a_smcny eve hairdressing salon 1967_sm

The hair-dressing salons were opened for 24-hours during the Chinese New Year Eve hours until Chinese New Year Day.

The hairdressing salon was crowded with young gals covered their heads of curls for “permanent wave” hairdo fashion styles to make them beautiful.  A new hairdo for the Chinese New Year is a traditional practice for centuries in Singapore.


In fashion for ladies, one of the most visible  differences is the hairstyle.  Where past fashion contestants had similar styles based on the then-current trend, hairstylists nowadays pick styles which match faces and personalities.

Everyone had curls those days and there were lots of “beehive” hairstyles.  People got their hair permed because in those days, there were no such thing as hairstylist.  In these fashion contests, the “beehive” hairstyle was okay when the contestants were gowns.  But it didn’t match the swimsuits.

Glorious styles for young and old

In the 1960s, styles in coiffure, like dresses are constantly changing.  As the fashion wheel turns, the hair is either short, medium or long.  At present though hair is a couple of inches longer, it is still short.

The average girl chooses a style which, besides becoming her face, will be appropriate for any time of the day.

Red spotlight on fashion – It’s better than a brain-wash

This is an  archived newspaper cutting from The Singapore Free Press dated 12 September 1957, courtesy of NewspaperSG.

Attempts was made to bring some colour into the uniform mode of life in the countries behind the iron curtain.

The world of fashion lends itself ideally for this purpose, and whereas until a short time ago little importance was attached to the appearance of women, Eastern Germany and other “Red” countries have now become fashion conscious.

The reason for the lack of pretty clothes was not only the shortage of material or pretty textiles, but there seemed to be nobody there to create better fashions.

The fact that a fashion magazine was out of print shortly after publication, in spite of a large number of editions printed, is proof for the desire of the population to read and look at magazines other than political.

Whether the fashions are on a par with the Western World is another matter – all the same the Bikini has already appeared in force.

Fashion shows are now being held in the open air.  Large crowds gathering in the Stalin-Allee of East Berlin to watch.

A great attraction for young and old; the occasion is supplemented with a band and an announcer.

The Reds, it seems, have become fashion conscious.  The trend; to glamourize their women-folks.

There’s a link between fashion and taste. Fashion can be seen as a mechanism which defines what good taste is. Things which are in fashion are usually considered as beautiful or good, but being in fashion can also have a negative meaning. It can mean something that fades away and changes constantly without actually ever being able to define what’s beautiful or stylish because every new fashion is different from its predecessor.

Goods have been representations of status and for example in the 15th century england attitude towards goods was that the older goods families had, the higher social status the family had. Only old and respected families possessed items that were inherited through generations. During the cultural change that occurred, the social value of an item was begin to be defined by items novelty instead of patina (the age of the item). Only rich families had money to buy new goods. Novelty was no longer seen as a mark of commonness.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”   “I don’t do fashion, I AM fashion.”
― Coco Chanel

Like many non-communist countries in the world, Singaporeans since independence before or after are given the personal freedom and liberty to choose the fashion in whatever ways they like.  Parents do not force their children to follow fashion blindly within their family budget.  Gals young and old love to buy dresses, cosmetics, fashion accessories and products to make them beautiful.  The advertisements on TV, radios, magazines, newspapers and the mass media channel to find the latest fashion trends.

Singaporean fashion models are well-known internationally and our local fashion industry is big business.

We know that clothing is big business, but it may be surprising just how big.

According to BBC, the fashion industry’s contribution to the British economy is an estimated £26bn – that’s twice the size of the car industry’s and nearly as big as the contribution from housing.

It is not just dresses and handbags, but also design and manufacturing that make the sector the largest part of the so-called creative industries, which include marketing, etc.

But a couple of times a year during London Fashion Week , it is visible as models wear dresses that embody design as they sashay down the catwalk. And it’s also seen on the red carpet where actresses and singers generate publicity for labels as they come and watch the shows.

In the five days of London Fashion Week, about £100m of orders are placed for that season. Two-thirds of the buyers are international. As with many businesses, it’s a global market.

It’s also an industry that has taken to social media to reach that market. Burberry livestreams its catwalk show, so potential customers can watch online wherever they are. It’s a rare billion-pound British fashion house and that is due in part to having a large social media presence that has global reach.

It also means that it is a fiercely competitive business where it’s hard to stand out unless you’re a well-known brand and even then, it’s easy to fall in and out of fashion (sorry for the pun).

Is Singapore really a fashion capital, or just a shopping one?


How fashionable is the average Singapore shopper? Do you buy ‘fashion’ or do you buy ‘clothes’?

Singapore is purportedly one of the world’s “Fashion Capitals” according to a report by Global Language Monitor (GLM).  In it’s annual list of the top 50 global fashion capitals released in August, GLM ranked Singapore at number eight – one above Tokyo!

Singapore? I hear you exclaim in disbelief. Yes; Singapore. Why? Because according to the formula used by GLM – something to do with how many times the word “fashion” and “Singapore” have appeared together in print and online media – Singapore is all about fashion.

While, I’m a proud fashionista – and proud resident of Singapore – I beg to differ with GLM’s claim. Singapore is not so much a “fashion” capital, it’s more of a “shopping” one.

In a recent report, Fashion Nation, in the Urban section of the Straits Times newspaper, Sue Evans, the senior catwalks editor of London-based trend forecaster WGSN, said that Singapore was really just full of “fashion followers” not “fashionistas”.

Singapore is home to fashion shoppers who would rather spend thousands of dollars on a handbag with an internationally recognized logo than a couple of hundred dollars on a one-of-kind, made-in-Singapore bag – despite the fact that they’ll get better value for money.

Orchard Road is a shopper’s haven and cosmopolitan playground set among a lush, tropical landscape that is ubiquitous in this Garden City. It is truly A Great Street!

Look at the international models wearing their latest up-to-date fashion clothing, cosmetic make-up, footwear, hairdo and accessories at the “open-air  catwalk” at Orchard Road, Singapore.  This unique Singapore tourist attraction for many foreign visitors and tourists.


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