The Women Get Theirs Too

White Mountaineering showed their desirable outdoorsy womenswear… outdoors. Where else?

Just days after announcing their collaboration with Uniqlo, to the delight of fans (our post was one of the most viewed of the month), White Mountaineering showed their womenswear spring/summer 2022 collection during Tokyo’s Rakuten Fashion Week. It’s the brand’s first presentation in their home city in nine years (they’ve been showing in Paris), staged in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden that dates back to the Edo-period, and one of the largest koens (公園) in Tokyo, just 10 minutes from Shinjuku Station. The easy-looking pieces welcomed the outdoor, just as they did in the men’s spring/summer 2022 collection, but rather than having the models navigate a mountain trail, the women scrolled down a garden path that, like remote elevations, had no visitors. Some may think that this is making it easier for the female models, but could White Mountaineering also be saying that their womenswear is better suited for the manicured, rather than the wild outdoors?

Designer Yosuke Aizawa, as we know, has a thing for outdoor wear. Passion would be a better word. But Mr Aizawa is not creating another The North Face. Rather, he is adept at melding different categories, styles, and parts of dress into an unexpected whole. Workwear meets outerwear meets river togs meet mountain gear in a happy, sometimes intriguing mingle. Femininity remain high on the agenda while the focus is on utility and functionality. Mr Aizawa is not opposed, for example, to allow a slit to go thigh-high or for the navel to be clearly seen. He has taken the potential frumpiness out of outdoor wear and given the collection the sexiness of ‘gorpcore’. And in all likelihood, for the women who are enamoured with White Mountaineering—and there are many, these clothes are as comfortable for working in an office as they would be for walking in the park.

Mr Aizawa worked with a lot of black this time, and some army greens. The chromatic darkness (save a fruit tree-printed tank dress, worn over a straight skirt!) does not quite appear to be a cheery collection for warmer days, especially in the garden known for its cherry blossoms, come spring. This is made more so when the layering does not look like a breezy affair, not the just-throw-on-a-cotton-voile-shirt kind. The jackets, also vests, are more for fashion survivalists than climbing enthusiasts. For those familiar with White Mountanineering, this is understandable and a good thing: Mr Aizawa has a way with outerwear, even when he is not designing those for going up-mountain. And it is our understanding that he sells these well, for both men and women. And these hardy-looking outers’ outdoorsy looks are teamed with gathered skirts, roomy trousers, knee-length shorts. The jackets and the like—even with pouch pockets and utilitarian straps (no paracords!)—immediately shed their non-oppidan vibe.

This collection only serves to heighten the anticipation of White Mountaineering’s collaboration with Uniqlo this season. Based on what we have gathered so far (and this may not be totally true yet), the capsule will feature mostly outerwear or, those “created as a common language for everyone”, as White Mountaineering announced last month. Uniqlo, of course, retails some of the handsomest jackets and kindred garb for colder climes, and often at irresistible prices. With White Mountaineering in the picture, some of Uniqlo’s already sophisticated ‘outers’ will get a welcome update. Many of us are possibly not travelling this year, but investing in good protective wear is never a bad idea. And since both brands veer towards the practical and wearable, longevity is on offer too. White Mountainering’s just-shown collection simply provide additional temptation.

Photos: White Mountaineering

Pedder on Scotts Walks The End Of The Road

Hong Kong’s premium shoe emporium will close for good at the end of this month. But their parent store in Takashimaya Shopping Centre remains

The tell-tale signs on the front side of Scotts Square were there, way back when Hermès closed in 2019, followed by Delvaux, the Belgian bag’s flagship store and then Alexander McQueen’s—this year. The mall, one of the smallest in Orchard Road, seems to be shedding its high-end image. A former marketing staff with Wheelock Properties once told us that they would be filling their spaces “with exclusive luxury brands not found elsewhere”. The Business Times once described it as “home of luxury”. But with the debut of the LA eatery Eggslut next week (official opening on the 9th) in the corner where Hermès (and Mosscape Concept after that) vacated, are we looking at a less “exclusive” image? A long queue was seen this morning when they opened for “family and friends”. Long is expected when Eggslut finally opens to the egg-loving public. Is F&B the direction Scotts Square is going, especially with crowd-pulling names? Could this be the reason why Pedder on Scotts is closing—they no longer fit?

Pedder on Scotts’s “It’s hard to say goodbye” closing down sale (“up to 80% off”, but not everything is marked down to clear) started sharing on social media this week (the store’s website and Instagram pages are no more). We are not surprised by the closure announcement. Since the start of the pandemic, the store, occupying the whole floor of the three-storey mall, has been looking a tad less glorious than their former self. Some mall leasing managers we know were already speaking of a “massive space to be available in Scotts Square soon”. News of their closing travelled fast. Although it is stated on their communication material that opening hours are from “10am to 6pm daily”, the store welcome shoppers an hour later—“open eleven (sic)”, a staffer said brusquely when we asked her if they were closing down. By 10.30, people were milling in the corridor, with the crowd concentrated at Coffee Academics, the atas Hong Kong cafe situated in the Scotts Road-facing corner of the floor. When asked why the store would be closing, another staffer, a lot chirpier, told us it’s because of “landlord change”.

We’re not sure what to make of that surprising reveal. Scotts Square has been, for as long as we remember, a part of Wheelock Properties. A staffer in the mall told us that “the place is now under Wharf”, which is really Wharf Estates, a subsidiary of the esteemed, 135-year-old Hong Kong-based Wharf Real Estate Investment Company that is behind popular HK shopping destination such as Harbour City and Time Square. Known to the staff of the mall here as Wharf, the operator is, according to their website, “formerly known as Wheelock Properties (Singapore)”. Scotts Square and Wheelock Place are two of Wharf Estates’ commercial properties on our island. Is dropping the Wheelock name as owner of the mall reason to belief that there is a “landlord change”? Or is Wharf Estate truly rejigging their tenant mix so dramatically that staff of their lessees believe some major overhaul is afoot?

Pedder on Scotts opened in October 2015. The massiveness of the store—20,000 sqf—and the breadth of the merchandise were seen as a strong boost to luxury retail here. It was an emporium—specialty store, really—unlike any SG had seen, however large our consumption of luxury footwear. One fashion stylist at the store’s opening party, we vividly remember, called the product offering “orgiastic”. Shoe-lovers would not see that as exaggeration. Before the arrival of Pedder on Scotts, the largest standalone footwear haven was parent store On Pedder at Takashimaya Shopping Centre. We were told On Pedder would not close down. The women’s shoes in the Scotts store would move there, but the men’s and the sneakers would not. They will be “discontinued”. It is unclear what the fate of Canada Goose’s boutique in Pedder on Scotts is (Coffee Academics, it seems, will stay). Pedder Red (closed at Takashimaya Shopping Centre), the in-house, pocket-friendly diffusion line, will cease to exist too.

When we spoke to a society lady earlier today, she said that it may not be right to conclude, as many have, that Pedder on Scotts is closing because of discouraging sales as a result of the COVID pandemic. “U assume they weren’t doing well, but in reality they were,” she texted us. “Many (socialites) shop there. I have seen them. (They) don’t blink an eye at buying a few pairs at a go. Not unusual for them to spend 1k on a pair and they shop a lot. So on average 3k to 5k.” What did they buy, we wondered. “Dressy heels,” came the quick reply. It may surprise some that heels are selling when Crocs are increasingly popular, even among the fashion set. But, a former magazine editor told us, “Pedder on Scotts has their customers, but how many shiny, glittery heels do ladies need during this pandemic?” To him, price is the store’s undoing: “how to sustain if the selection is always pricey. Sneaker sales can only help so much. (They) need to have a nice (selection) of affordable practical styles as well, no?”

Affordability is increasingly not an issue in the marketing of luxury footwear. Otherwise, Louis Vuitton and the like would resist increasing their prices, repeatedly. What is appreciable of Pedder on Scotts is their attempt at going beyond just running a shoe store, and a static one. Sure, they have introduced us to otherwise alien-to-our-shore brands such as Malone Souliers, Rene Caovilla, Sophia Webster, and Tabitha Simmons, and, for men, Japanese advant-gardiste Yoshio Kubo, but they did broadened their offerings to include exquisite accessories, such as bags (Benedetta Bruzziches) and eyewear (Linda Farrow), and introduced items not-bound-for-feet products, such as the home ware of Fornasetti and the fragrances of Maison Francis Kurkdjian. They have supported local creatives too, staging the Onitsuka Tiger Stripes 50th Anniversary exhibition, featuring the collaborative works of our own designers and media professionals and, also in the same year, invited photographer Mark Law and fashion stylist Jeremy Tan to exhibit their work, as well as the entries of the finalists of Harper’s Bazaar’s NewGen design competition. At Pedder on Scotts, there was community outside the patronage of socialites. We shall miss all that.

Pedder on Scotts will be permanently closed on 26 September 2021. Photos: Chin Boh Kay