May 16, 2009
More hip shops for Orchard
Two trendy shopping enclaves will open at Ngee Ann City and Orchard Central
By cara van miriah
The hipster shopping scene is getting hotter. At least 50 retail stores at two locations are set to open this year to cater to the young adult crowd. Relatively unburdened by mortgages, kids and retirement concerns, this group is still thronging the malls.
One of the new locations is at Ngee Ann City, where the space that housed the former Sparks disco will be turned into a chic lifestyle cluster called the Eighth Floor at the end of the year.
Next month, a new retail enclave with a concept of small stalls called The Ramp will woo shoppers at the new Orchard Central mall. It is called The Ramp because stalls will be located on the connecting ramps of the fifth and sixth floors.
The new shopping locations add to other, established locations in town targeting the youth dollar.
They include the first on the scene, the Level 4 and Level 5 enclave at The Heeren Shops. Both levels (formerly The Annex) are known for their indie and cult fashion retailers such as the multi-label Queen's Couture and target young adults aged 19 to 35. Then came the street-themed LevelOne at Far East Plaza followed by LevelOne@Central shopping mall near Clarke Quay.
Ngee Ann City's move to go after niche hipsters is a departure, as it has been catering to middle- and high-income earners. It hopes to draw well-travelled, discerning consumers aged 25 to 45 to its Eighth Floor cluster.
The enclave will be modelled on Tokyo's trendy Aoyama district, known for its art galleries, speciality stores and food and beverage outlets. It will feature up to 19 stores housed in pod-like structures.
The sprawling 2,293 sq m premises - the size of 10 basketball courts - have been vacant for several years and are used for private events. Sparks occupied them from 1993 to 2000 when it was renamed Grease. That folded in 2002. Imperium Chinese restaurant opened there in 2003 and closed in 2005.
Next month, the space will undergo a six-month renovation. An escalator on the level seven carpark will give shoppers direct access to it. They can also take the lifts and escalators in the mall.
Ngee Ann Development's executive director Teo Chiang Long tells Life! why the Eighth Floor was created: 'Orchard Road just underwent a $40-million revamp and new malls are popping up. There is no better time to inject a new lease of life to Ngee Ann City, particularly on the eighth level.'
Ngee Ann is collaborating with local creative agency Asylum for Eighth Floor's tenant mix and branding, and local architect Randy Chua of Zarch Collaboratives for its edgy interior. Each retail space ranges from 550 to 2,849 sq ft. There will be up to five food and beverage outlets.
Over at The Ramp at Orchard Central, the target stall-holders are young entrepreneurs looking for space in a prime location. Mr Danny Yeo, managing director of property consultancy firm Knight Frank, says rental for a permanant shop unit at such shopping enclaves ranges between $15 and $30 per sq ft, depending on the mall's location.
The new kids on the retail block will add up to a total of five specialist enclaves in Orchard Road, including the late-night eatery enclave Discovery Walk at 313@Somerset, which will open in November. It will have 10 eateries and bars such as Central Chatterbox (Hong Kong Cafe), Japanese Yakitori & Shoju Bar and a flagship Marche outlet.
Mr Steven Goh, spokesman for the Orchard Road Business Association, says the enclaves are unique destinations that add variety to the malls.
'Over the years, Orchard Road has also developed into a multi-dimensional lifestyle destination,' he says. 'Shoppers can enjoy different experiences in one location.'
Malls including The Heeren Shops welcome the new additions. Its marketing communications manager Roland Lim says of the Eighth Floor: 'There are too many luxury and mass-market brands in Orchard Road. It is refreshing to know that additional space will be used to cater to an alternative segment of shoppers.'
Shoppers are looking forward to the new enclaves. Stewardess Vivienna Lip, 32, who shops at The Heeren Shops, says: 'These places usually have an interesting character because they tend to retail indie fashion labels. I like the atmosphere as most enclaves have that edgy street vibe.'