A year ago, I was approached by Ping of Cloth.ier to check out her store, Ju Xiang Zai, at Marina Bay Sands. It is the brand name of the Cheongsam designs of a Chinese designer, and Ping is the franchisee in Singapore. Though the shop did stock some designs from the Cloth.ier brand.
Previously, Cloth.ier had a number of stores in the city, including one at Raffles Place, and it was one of the few cheongsam boutiques then. (It was in the early 2000’s when online cheongsam stores were unheard of.) But, due to the high rental costs, Ping had to close down all the stores, and ended up running only Ju Xiang Zai.
A few months ago, Ping gave me a heads up that she was planning the reopening of Cloth.ier before Christmas. She contacted me again in late December and invited me over for a viewing at the new boutique.
The store is located at Tanglin Shopping Center, #B1-07 (behind the taxi stand). Finally, there is a new home for the Clothier cheongsam! There is also a reversal of the situation this time. There are some Ju Xiang Zai designs available instore as it turns out Ping did not renew the lease at the MBS retail space last year.
The new boutique has a warm and clean line decor, and there is a relaxed ambience within it, making for a pleasant shopping experience. In fact it reminded me of the MBS shop. Over here, there are dresses as well as jackets available. Ping also plans to launch cheongsam tops which were very popular previously.
First, let’s check out the stretch cotton cheongsams which look pretty good. I especially like the modern abstract floral print of the middle dress. They are not lined, and though they are in the traditional cut including having side buttons, there is actually a back zip for convenient wear. The cut-in style of the collar gives the dresses a modern feel too. The attention to details and workmanship is pretty good.
Jadeite buttons are used on the dress below, but they are really decorative pieces.
The cotton dresses are retailed at S$168. At the price range of S$148-168, you can also choose from polyester and linen cheongsams. The below left picture of a porcelain print yellow dress is made from polyester fabric while the one on the right is a linen dress. Personally, I find the dresses have an old-style feel to them because of the conservative prints.
For those who prefer silk, here are some of the styles available. Like the cheaper dresses, these are also designed for the modern women with back zips.
The short silk dresses are priced at S$298, and for the long cheongsam, they are in the range between S$468 to S$688.
Ping asked me for my opinion on the dresses, and I pointed out that they are still mostly of the usual floral prints (the same feedback I gave her previously). She admitted that it has been difficult to find good quality interesting prints and least alone to have them woven at the China factory, particularly for the silk fabrics. I pointed her to check out locations in Japan or Italy where she might be able to find interesting fabrics. The problem with many of those Chinese-owned fabric factories is that they tend to focus on rather staid, boring floral prints that are perhaps favored by the local Chinese, instead of interesting ones like jacquard fabric. If you throw a stone at the China-made cheongsams, 9 out of 10 would be of the floral-centric prints.
While I was at the store, Ping also showed me a couple of loose flowy dresses. The one below is a chiffon long dress, retailed at S$308.
Both dresses are pretty long, at ankle length for someone of the height of 1.65m. I told Ping that most Chinese/Asian women are not this tall, and those above 1.7m is even of a rarity. These dresses are more suitable for the tall Caucasian women, and even then, I would recommend them for the older women, like those at least 45 years old. I suggested to Ping that she might consider shortening them to calve length for the Asian women, and the dresses would then be appropriate for the bigger sized ladies. It turns out that she does have shorter dresses available.
The Chinese jacket is a staple offering at Cloth.ier, and the boutique is offering this for the New Year. Notice that it comes with coin buttons. I think this is not only good for the festive occasion, but also suitable as an office jacket.
Currently, Cloth.ier has pop up stores at Isetan Scott and Takashimaya. However the Takashimaya store is only opened till this weekend whereas the Isetan store is opened till Chinese New Year. So, do check them out if you are interested in any of the designs.
(Note: all pictures are provided by Ping.)