updated 19 Jun 2012, 01:21
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Tue, Apr 03, 2012
The New Paper
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Right fit - but only at the right price

Secret shopper

With the right cut, colour and quality of denim, a pair of jeans could very well turn into a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

So, in search for that perfect pair of jeans, this secret shopper chose to trek to The Denim Store by Queen's Couture, located in the heart of Mandarin Gallery, as it has created quite a buzz.

The word going around is that this store has an amazing selection of cult indie brands.

So I arrived at the store with pretty high expectations.

Signature style

Like its name suggests, this store is all about denim. Not just any denim: we're talking brands with cool names like Ksubi, 5 Preview, Glip and Road and Cheap Monday, and Japanese brands such as Sugar Cane, Flat Head, Stripe Gold and Tenryo.

Among the loot available, two brands - April 77 and Nudie Jeans - are the most sought after, going by the chatter.

They both have a global following. Nudie proclaims to offer "a way of thinking, a concept and an undying passion".

The Swedish, made-in-Italy brand has gained recognition for its eco-friendly ways and excellent fits.

April 77 says it makes "clothes inspired by youth movements and modern history".

Naturally, I was intrigued.

Store layout

Mandarin Gallery is a mall that positions itself as a little upmarket with its designer brands up front and centre in their big, glitzy and glamorous shopfronts.

And The Denim Store exudes an almost sombre, moody aura: its walls and counter are onyx black, and the shop relies on a number of strategically placed spotlights to create a slightly curatorial, museum-like feel.

The store layout is rectangular: its large counter takes up the middle, with two sections on either side.

Effectively, one has to walk to one end of the shop and cross over to the other in order to get the full picture of the store's offerings.

I found the walking a little troublesome, especially since walking past the counter and the front door made one feel a little like being examined by both outsiders and the cashier.

The fitting rooms - there were two on either side of the store - relied simply on a heavy curtain each.

Upmarket or not, the place could do with some decent doors.


To go with those fancy labels, there were also some fancy numbers on the price tags.

As I started pulling out items at random, I realised nothing here comes cheap: a cotton T-shirt was priced at $109, and a collared, buttoned one at $199.

While the April 77 jeans ranged mostly from $169 to $189, the prices for Nudie Jeans Co ranged mostly from $259-$299 and beyond.

I reached into the back pocket of a pair of Tenryo jeans and pulled out a hefty $339 price tag.

Style and service

The store feels very male orientated. All the assistants were male.

When I asked if there were any offerings for women, I was pointed towards their Ksubi and 5 Preview selection, the unisex accessories they stocked at the counter, and the slimmer, high-waisted cuts for jeans.

It didn't seem like a large enough selection, nor was it prominent enough.

I was then disappointed to learn that April 77, their most popular brand after Nudie Jeans Co, stocked only skinny and slim cuts, and therefore remained largely exclusive to the slimmer silhouette.

One of the three sales assistants received full marks from this secret shopper.

He approached me and managed to recommend a pair of Nudie jeans just by discerning the cut of the jeans I had on.

He also managed to justify why I was more suited for the "tight long john" over the other skinny cuts.

He firmly but politely stood his ground when I challenged him on the appeal of raw denim.

He even spelt out "unsanforized" for me upon request (which means "untreated" for denim luddites), and taught me the exact way to care for the jeans.

The sales assistants had their hands full dealing with the steady influx of people.

It was apparent I had to fight for my assistant's attention.

But he nonetheless kept me in mind, and managed to stand outside my fitting room to ask how the fit was.

And the fit was very, very good. I dare say it was close to perfect.


I was mostly satisfied by my store experience, in spite of the inconvenient store layout and its curtain-only fitting rooms.

The helpfulness and attentiveness of the assistant was a key factor in me leaving with a pair of Nudies priced at $299.

Check it out

What: The Denim Store

Where: Mandarin Gallery, #03-09/10/11

When: 11.30am-9pm daily

History: Local multi-label boutique Queen's Couture opened its second outlet, The Denim Store, at the start of 2010.

It stocks a wide variety of cult brands specialising in jeans and all things denim.

This article was first published in The New Paper.



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