See And Hear

Owndays has launched their own “hearing glasses” in an unexpected collaboration with Huawei

By Low Teck Mee

When I first tried on Bose’s Bluetooth audio sunglasses simply called Frames just before the pandemic struck three years ago, I was not immediately impressed, or in love. The Wayfarer-ish shades were relatively handsome, but their thick arms—necessarily bulky to house, among other electronics, battery and speaker—were a deal breaker for me as they gripped the space above my ears too tightly for what I consider comfort. Prone to headaches when arms of glasses are too tight, the Frames did not cut it for me. Additionally, I kept feeling that clunky arm above my ears, not exactly the sunglasses you put on and forget about them. But the Bose Frames were not designed to be ignored. As you are likely going to use it to listen to music, not just to block out harsh sunlight and the accompanying UV rays, its palpable arms were, er, audible too, pulsing above the . Even if the Bose Frames did not make a fan out of me, since then, many other brands have added to the multiplication of such eyewear in the market.

The latest to join the excitement is the Japanese eyewear brand Owndays. The first here to introduce quickly-available (20 minutes on average, mostly) prescription glasses, they are also the first (I believe) among Japanese eyewear retailers to now offer spectacles with speakers housed in the arms. You can then use them as earphones too. Curious is their pairing with Chinese brand Huawei than an audio name such as compatriot Sony. Still, appealingly, the glasses come as ‘blank’ pairs so that you can fit lenses with the power that you need. That, to me, is a persuasive sell. With the Bose Frames, if you intended to keep listening to music indoors, you’d have to keep your shades on, which inside anywhere the sun can’t reach is somewhat a pretentious practice. In the case of the Owndays “hearing glasses”, if you need them as sun shades, all you need is snap on the separate dark lenses that come with them.

I am sure the Owndays X Huawei glasses will serve as corrective eyewear well, as Owndays’s usual offerings do. In terms of looks, they are handsome enough, and the ends of the arms, where the earpiece are, seem slender, which means they may not put pressure on where they rest. As I have not been able to test its audio function, I can’t say that I would seriously consider them in place of my admittedly old B&O Beoplay E8. The thing is, although Owndays have announced the launch of their hybrid glasses in Japan, there is no news if they will be available outside their homeland. When I asked at Owndays shops last week, I was met with blank expressions. Two staff members in two different shops had no idea what I was talking about. Finally one did at a third outlet, and he told me that there is, so far, no news that they would be bringing it to our shores. I can’t say I was not disappointed with that revelation. But I can be hopeful.

The Bose Frames, soundwise, did not blow me over. While sound leak, as you can imagine, will always be a snag when your ears are not plugged, the Bose was not a huge problem until you listen to music at a higher volume (and you would if the ambient sound overpowers or if you want the bass to travel through your body). And since I have not auditioned the Owndays X Huawei pair, I can’t say they are a sonic monster. I assume Huawei is behind the tech of the earphone part of the eyewear, and it is likely that their sound engineers have offered the best. According to Owndays, the “directional acoustic system”—there is no mention of bone conduction technology—they have employed, “minimizes” sound leakage. Whether that is good enough, I can’t say with certainty yet. But six hours battery life for audio playback and IPX4 water resistance (admittedly not the ultimate, but good enough for headphones you can’t see) put this pair of collab glasses in good light, rather than in the shade. Still, for those of us gadget lovers, there really is no problem at all using a pair of true wireless, noise-cancelling earbuds and, at the same time, wearing a pair of our fave specs, Owndays or not.

The Owndays X Huawei ‘Listening Glasses’ are presently not available here. Watch this space for release dates when they become available. Photos: Owndays Japan

Can Products Be Overbranded?

Apparently not. Dior shows that there really can be no limit to the use of their name and initials

Kiasuism has hit luxury brands, in particular Dior. Sure, we have seen before the unceasing use of their logos and monograms on much of what they make, but we have yet to see branding so concentrated in a single product, as the above sunglasses, the Blue Dior Oblique Pilot, also known as the CD Link A1U. When paired with their Sunglasses Cord and the Dior X Kenny Scharf T-shirt, as shown in the photo above, you’ll have the full Dior, visually. Or, full of Dior? Is nothing too much? Or, too obvious? Discreet is not fashionable, Dior seems to be telling us, and the world needs not to know what you are wearing, but who. Not even the ’80s and ’90s were there such overuse of logos. It is no longer your good ’ol logomania. Dior is paving the way for hypermania.

We thought the proliferation of logos peaked at the end of the ’90s. We were so wrong. The love of logos never went away, but it has, in recent years, become more pronounced and the presence of the attendant products overwhelming. And even more so during a pandemic. We remember going to the Dior men’s store last year, shortly before Christmas, and was really taken aback to see virtually no product without a visible font or symbol of their trademark. We remember asking ourselves, will designers be hired if they are not good at using logos other than for labels? Is fashion design increasingly about logo placement?

Just look at the pilot sunglasses. The CD Link A1U would look like most aviators if not for its patterned lenses. Do people love Dior so much that they wish to be seen with the Dior Oblique monogram for eyes? Apparently so. According to the brand’s marketing material, the “blue lenses feature a silver mirrored Dior Oblique motif to complete the urban sunglasses”. Motif? Branded! We do not know, if looking through them from the other side, we’d see the possibly headache-inducing logo feast, but this shade sure goes with B23 high-tops. More to match if they are crucial to the look. (Despite the tonal difference on the lenses, they offer 100% UVA/UVB protection). If the logo-ed up lenses is still discreet, the metal arm of the glasses sport “an openwork ‘CD’ signature”. So that no one would mistake it for LV?

Of course to strengthen the branding and to “lend the finishing touch to any pair of glasses”, you’d have to attach the eyewear to the Dior Sunglasses Cord. And in case no one knows what ‘CD’ stands for, it is all spelled out in full caps with clear reverse-white, sans-serif font on the polyester nylon jacquard lanyard. On the “silver-finish metal lobster clasp”, the four-letter brand name is engraved on it. If even that is not enough, set both against a cotton T-shirt with ‘CD’ embroidered on the left top corner of the pocket. The look is now complete. More, not less.

Photos: Dior

Stolen: Estella’s Glasses

The headlines read, “Cruella’s glasses stolen”. But the villain doesn’t wear even a pair

In London, an eyewear store in Sloane Square was raided on 9 June by masked thieves. Hundreds of pairs of spectacles amounting to £500,000 (approximately S$935,381) were stolen, including those seen in the film Cruella. The store is Tom Davies, also the namesake designer of high-end eyewear, as well as bespoke pieces (not to be mistaken for the Everton footballer with the same moniker!), popular among stars such as Ed Sheeran and the celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. A total of 120 pairs were made for the Disney film, and six of them—destined for an auction—were in the store and swiped by the burglars. Tom Davies is also known for designing the eyewear worn by Henry Cavill as Clark Kent in 2016’s Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.

According to the Evening Standard, “CCTV shows thieves smashing into the Tom Davis shop… and clearing glasses off the shelves into a tray.” The entire operation was completed in 50 seconds. The BBC reported that ‘Wanted’ (accompanied by the hashtag #TomDaviesTheft) posters were distributed throughout the English capital and some were pasted on lamp posts in central London. To foil the felons’ attempt at peddling the stolen wares, the message read, “If you are offered any sunglasses with TOM DAVIES FOR CRUELLA engraved on the inside arm, please can you let us know. The distinctive frames have a far bigger value at a charity auction than to the criminals who vandalised our store and will struggle to sell them.”

A spokesman for Tom Davis revealed that Emma Stone and Emma Thompson each wore two pairs of glasses that were stolen, but which exactly these were was not illustrated or described. In the poster issued by the store, the pair in tortoise shell worn by Ms Stone as Estella (above) was shown. This was the semi-feline frame with rounded edges that Estella wore, a la Clark Kent, in her early days as design assistant to the Baroness, played by Ms Thompson. When she transforms to Cruella, glasses are off, replaced by heavy makeup and outlandish masks. To steal, too, this look?

Photo: Disney

The Nose Gets Shaded Too

Are these the coolest sunglasses yet?

By Ray Zhang

We are without doubt moving into a post-CNY period, characterised by bright, scorching days. These past weeks have been especially so. And nothing is more appreciated now than sunglasses, especially this pair by TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist. Not in the mood to buy—and wear—anything new (actually, to dress well, which these days means considerable effort), I think the best and easiest thing to do new is wearing a pair of shades, but not just any lying around (or the good ’ol, inherently cool Aviator). I am completely drawn to these novel big-eyes-with-a-nose. For one, it’ll distract from my clearly no-new-season-clothes stance; for another, it will amuse the many for whom a pair of sunglasses is just that.

The Soloist’s Takahiro Miyashita is the main man behind the now-defunct Number (N)ine, beloved by many outgrowing the first gen of Japanese designers who put Tokyo on the map from Paris. My first encounter with Number (N)ine was in Tokyo in the mid-’90s, and it was classic love-at-first-sight seizure. A frighteningly-priced patchwork blazer was beseeching my ownership, but fate did not deal me a good card. In 2009, Mr Miyashita took a year’s hiatus after ending the brand that he started with others. He returned with TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist in 2010, and has diligently garnered what has been described as a “cult following”. As a Soloist, his designs bring sharp focus to youth culture, like his pal’s Jun Takahashi’s. They are an amalgam of punk and grunge, and everything between. And, often, they are also cheekily unexpected.

Such as these acetate sunglasses. They look, to me, at first glance, something a psycho in a B-grade slasher flick might have worn to conceal his identity. Or, in a remake of The Birds, featuring humans with some ornithological madness, and hell-bent to wipe out the screaming living before them. Maybe it’s the beak-like extension of the front, through the bridge, evocative of a bird, rather than an insect. A neb that kids might have made out of papier-mâché to wear as costume in a play. This sunglasses has, in fact, more in common with a Harlequin mask than shades such as the Wayfarer. It covers up a good part of the upper half of the face, and would clearly delight those who need such obscuring. I am one.

This Takahiromiyashita The Soloist’s debut eyewear line—known as TheLeftEye—is conceived with the Japanese company EYEVAN, remembered as the manufacturer of the hipster label Oliver Peoples. EYEVAN’s stunning store in Tokyo’s Aoyama is a must-stop for fashionista in search of unusual eyewear. It is unsurprising to me that TheLeftEye is born of this partnership. Launched on the eve of CNY in Tokyo’s Parco Shibuya, via a striking pop-up, Pop by Jun, and under the intriguing theme Listen to This Glasses, TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheLeftEye piques more than just interests, it seems destined to be the leading purveyor of uncommon shades. And this is only just the beginning.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Photos: Takahiromiyashita The Soloist

Upside Down You Turn Me

When glasses can’t be left right side up

By Mao Shan Wang

It’s a topsy-turvy world, that much I know. But, I’m not head over heels for it. In case I and those of you who share my feelings are in doubt that the world is disarranged, Gucci has released a pair of glasses with cat-eye frames, set upside down! Okay, I am sure there are those out there who can’t wait for gravity to do its work on their eyes, and would wear these to hasten the effect, but seriously, my peepers are not—or ever will be—ready to be this droopy. Or, to look like I’m suffering from a severe case of two-side ptosis. Even my grandmother, with cognitive decline, wouldn’t wear her glasses the wrong side up.

That this pair of glasses needs to be flipped so as to make an upright statement about style perhaps indicates that we have come to a stage of existence when the virus of the year has somehow affected our creative judgment. Gucci calls this pair “inverted cat eye sunglasses”. How about the bottom half of butterfly wings? It is not clear why Gucci chose inversion. Did someone leave a regular pair upside-down on a table, and the design team decided it was great and “an unconventional take on the ’50s and ’60s inspired cat eye frames” that could win the heart of fans? Have they not considered how sad the whole face looks with the glasses worn?

Sometimes I feel fashion is at the stage where being different for the sake of being different has taken precedence over not looking bonkers. Even if I choose appearing unbalanced, I am stable enough to know that I won’t spend this amount—more than S$1,000 (RRP: US$755)—to suggest that the corners of my eyes are heading south with accordance to the shape of my eyewear. And since, the lenses of the sunglasses are not the least dark, there is no way I can use it as a disguise. Or, to blend in with the rest of the shades-wearing crowd. Or, to simply look cool. Perhaps looking uncool is the game plan. I wonder then how little inverted cat eyes will look perched on a face mask?

Photo: Gucci

This Is A Pair Of Sunglasses

For the creative type, it can be worn as a pendant


D&G shades fall 2019

We blame you not if you thought this is a monocle. Or, some other monocular optical instrument, perhaps from the 18th century. It could also be a folded pince-nez, if your imagination permits! This, however, has a more present-day appeal. It is, in fact, a pair of shades, and it comes from a label that had, in the past year, traipsed rather indelicately in the minefield of public opinion: Dolce & Gabbana.

The brand that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana built happily tells us that this foldable sunglasses “starred” in the men’s show for this season back in February—a presentation that was homage to an elegance that Humphrey Bogart would be at home with. Or, what D&G calls “the charming atmosphere of the Forties”. And indeed this pair of sunglasses is surprisingly different from the more outrageous—sometimes downright wacky—eyewear that D&G had shown (admittedly mostly for women). This is very much in keeping with an age of men mindful of spiffy details.

Dolce & Gabbana Man AW 2019

The main appeal of the glasses is how smartly it folds into a compact device. A hinge at the temple allows it to collapse, with lenses folded, one behind the other (and the arms neatly tucked within too), forming a nifty shape that, with a cord or chain strung through the inverted V of the hinge, can be worn as a pedant or (mock) monocle around the neck, the way Karl Marx was known to wear his. The two lenses are secured by acetate frames, around which a perimeter of thin, ridged metal, designed to give the texture of grosgrain ribbons, lends it the refinement that eyewear (the monocle, particular) was once accorded, and, thus, considered a status symbol.

Named Fatto A Mano (or handmade in Italian), this pair of shades is priced to match its evocative moniker—just S$104 less than the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro! Chances are, for some fortunate, gadget-and-eyewear-loving few, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Dolce & Gabbana foldable Fatto A Mano sunglasses, SGD1,545, is available at Sunglass Hut. Photos: (top) Jim Sim, (runway) Dolce & Gabbana

The Sophomore Store

Ray-Ban asserts its domination in eyewear with free-standing shop number two


Ray-Ban 313@Orchard.jpg

By Mao Shan Wang

After opening their first flagship in Plaza Singapura last year, you’d think that Ray-Ban would stop there. After all, the maker of Wayfarers are in virtually any eyewear store you bother to step foot in. But it has opened its second free-standing store yesterday at 313@Orchard, offering both the sunglasses they’re known for and an impressive range of frames for corrective lenses. To put into perspective, there is no Ray-Ban standalone in Hong Kong and just one in Tokyo.

Those suffering from shortsightedness (and other forms of reduced acuity of vision), I feel, would also be delighted to know that they can now buy a Ray-Ban ‘Optic’ frame and have the respective lenses fitted too. As with the PS store, Ray-Ban 313@Orchard has an in-house optometrist who is able to offer examination and prescription. When I entered the first-floor store and immediately zeroed in on a pair of octagonal frames in a colour that I later learned was called ‘Havana’, the sales guy was quick to say that I could receive an “eye check”, but, after flipping through a folder, was unable to tell me the price although I had specified the type of lens I want.

Ray-Ban RB7151 2012The octagonal Ray-Ban RB7151 series of the ‘Optics’ collection

It is note-worthy (perhaps, satisfying for some) that the corrective lenses offered are by Ray-Ban, which is interesting to me because I did not know that they make lenses like Essilor and Carl Zeiss Vision do. Admittedly, I forgot Ray-Ban were pioneers in ‘anti-glare’ lenses. I was told by the same guy that it takes “up to four to five working days” before you can collect your glasses, which I thought was too long in these days of instant gratification when many optical shops allow you to pick your new specs in about 20 minutes, but conceded that for the best, a little waiting is needed. I was not discouraged, and was set on the pair with octagonal frames and Waferer arms (the RB7151 series). I later found out that there are eight colours available for this style, but only two were shown at the store.

Despite its American roots, Ray-Ban is increasingly adopting the Italian aesthetic to perhaps reflect the provenance of Milan-based owner, Luxottica, known to be the “the world’s largest company in the eyewear industry” and rumoured to own 80% of it. Luxottica acquired Ray-Ban in 1999, including its then owner, the Global Eyewear Division of Bausch & Lomb. I remember a trip to Rome a couple of years back. At every optical shop (and there are many in Rome), tourists were not looking for Italian brands such as Persol or fashion-linked names such as Prada (both, interestingly, Luxottica-owned). Many were asking for Ray-Bans. It is, therefore, oddly assuring that their standalones here have a solid, unflashy American flavour.

Photo: Dawn Koh, (product) Ray-Ban

Wild Fire

Prada Flame Frame

Leaping flames, there’s something primordial about them. In fact, it was Darwin who considered fire—and language—two important achievements of humanity. So Prada’s playing with fire isn’t as frivolous as it appears to be.

Miuccia Prada turned up the heat for autumn/winter 2018 when she showed some bowling shirts with banana and floral prints caught above flames. But as early as June, stars such as Jeff Goldblum and Pusha T were seen wearing the flame motif on what could be two-different-shirts-come-together-as-one, and fashion news sites declared the Prada shirt “the hottest in fashion right now”.

But as anyone who has dealt with fire knows, it spreads. In her women’s show two months later, Ms Prada sent out shoes with wedge heels engulfed, a burning that had, in fact, previously appeared in the spring/summer season of 2012, on stilettos that could have been tourches, or giant matchsticks. Now, the same cartoonish flames—acetate laser cut-outs—arise on the frames of Prada eyewear, part of this year’s Ornate special collection.

The flames may be akin to those seen on fast cars and faster bikes—also known as ghost flames—but, set on the outer top left and right corners of the aviator-ish frames, have the feline allure of the cat glasses of the ’50s and ’60s. That, to us, is the immeasurable beauty of Prada: no matter how far out their designs are, they have never totally abandoned old-fashioned femininity.

Prada two-tone ‘Flame’ sunglasses, SGD550, from the Ornate special collection is available at select Prada stores and Sunglass Hut. Photos: Zhao Xiangji

The (Still) Sweet And Gentle Side Of Japanese Fashion

If you think that Japanese fashion is the global sway of Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto, then the newly opened Lumine will offer you the side of nihon no fasshon that is the antithesis of edgy


Lumine P1

By Mao Shan Wang

Collectively, Japanese designers have been so effective at marketing themselves as avant-gardists that many consumers sometimes forget that the Japanese have a softer, more saccharine, and clearly conventional side. Two days ago, Japanese mall operator Lumine opened its first overseas retail space at Clark Quay Central, showcasing Japanese fashion that Nanase Aikawa would love, despite her rock-chic leaning: clothes that, when worn, will get army boys go weak in the knees.

Lest I am mistaken, I am not saying Lumine’s offerings here are not up to scratch or plain conservative. They cater to women—and there are many of them—who do not, by any means, want anything other than to enhance their femininity, and in obvious ways. Girl—or little girl—power is well and alive. Even post-modegyaru, these clothes have not entirely shed their ‘cool’-meets-‘cute’ appeal. Truth is, there are really Japanese styles that celebrate this aesthetic, and they are awash with a sweetness that, for those not planning to form a girl band, may be a tad too lovable. Or, syrup-drenched, like ice-kacang.

In other words, if you are inclined to think that this may be a more commercial version of Dover Street Market, think something else—maybe the romance flick Narratage’s city-centre/suburban conventionality or you’ll get your knickers in a knot. My visit when Lumine in Clark Quay Central opened two days ago was met with a mix of mild disappointment and weak surprise. It is approachable a store as, say Iora (in any mall), but, to be fair, it has better visual merchandising, and warm and helpful service that, at least for now (the presence of their Japanese minders?), do kind of remind me of my Tokyo Lumine experiences.

Lumine P4

It is indeed a pleasant shopping space although, by the standard of Lumine in Tokyo’s Shinjuku alone, is disappointingly small. Covering a humble 10,000 square feet of the former Naiise space, it is stamp-sized, as opposed to Lumine’s Shinjuku presence, comprising five glittering shopping centres that are laid out around the world’s busiest mass transit station. And the best part is, there’s a Lumine for every shopper, from the teen bargain hunters who flock to Lumine Est (once known as My City) to mature women (as identified by the mall) of the swanky, barely two-year-old NEWoMAN, situated between Shinjuku station and Takashimaya department store.

That Lumine’s various incarnations sprout like bamboo shoots around train stations, especially in Shinjuku, is very much linked to its ownership. Lumine belongs to JR East, a train operator that’s part of the Japan Railways (JR) Group, the company that has put Japan on the world high-speed transportation map with their Shinkansen bullet trains. The various Lumine malls, or ekibiru (station building) that front Shinjuku station give the otherwise mass-of-steel, 10-platform, 20-track station not only a more palatable façade, but also generate incredible hustle and bustle, as commuters do spend time (and money) in these vertical shopping hubs. While the various Lumines aren’t where you’d go for Japanese labels that show in Paris, they do offer a staggering variety of home-grown brands through multi-label retailers such as United Arrows, Tomorrowland, and Urban Research.

While those familiar with the Lumine name could not quite grasp the Singapore store’s location choice, those who have become tired of Orchard Road’s predictable selection of brands and the shopping belt’s general sameness are quite pleased to visit, for a change, a mall not known for its fashion tenants. Sitting on top of the ground level of Giordano, L’zzie, BYSI, and Island Shop, Lumine does appear a cut above, never mind it isn’t an ekibiru, and the nearest MRT station, Clark Quay, is 250 metres away, below Hong Lim Park.

Lumine P3

I bumped into my friend May, a HR professional, whose first words to me were, “How? Disappointing, hor?” She was hoping to see more from the label and ‘select shop’ (as they are known in Japan) Tomorrowland, her favourite, and where she would shop without fail when in Tokyo, especially the Marunouchi store and the one in Lumine 1. “I am hoping to see Edition (a Tomorroland brand),” I said, “but it isn’t here, Still, it is a good start.” But she seems a little skeptical, saying, “I don’t think many people care about Japanese labels anymore. Look at Lowry Farm.” She was referring to the Japanese chain store that, at its peak, had eight outlets here. It shuttered in 2015, just three years after it opened, with the desire to offer shoppers youth-oriented Japanese styles that would not strain the wallet. The problem was, we didn’t look enough.

Shortly after we parted, a mother was heard telling her grown-up son, “都是女孩子的,没有男孩子的” (“All for girls; nothing for boys”). The poor chap looked like he was going to cry. Seriously! It is rather odd that the Lumine here has decided to omit men’s wear. Perhaps the space is just too small to cater to guys as well. I did see many leaving the store somewhat disappointed. Those who came with their girlfriends/wives/sisters and did not want to hang around racks of lacy prettiness chose to browse in the eyewear corner of Japanese chain Zoff, whose Lumine Est shop in Shinjuku is always swarmed with boys (and girls) in need of prescription glasses that can be had in less than 30 minutes. Yes, much like what are offered at first-to-market Owndays. Shortly past noon, Zoff was busy, and the low staff numbers barely able to cope. Unsurprisingly, it was filled with mostly male customers.

The other corner where you’ll find a disproportionate number of guys is at the Lumine Café, a surprisingly gender-neutral space that serves coffee, tea, and other beverages, and highly Instagrammable towering parfait-like desserts. I saw many chaps, who were likely office staff of Lumine, conducting meetings. Quite a few looked like they were abandoned by their still-shopping companions. The place felt like tea time at one of the coffee places in Raffles Place. The near full-capacity was surprising as Lumine Café does not serve food such as pastries, sandwiches, or salads.

Lumine P5.jpg

The retail concept of Lumine is not entirely new to our island. In the mid-’80s, at a time before Japanese fashion and pop music were overtaken by everything with a prefix K, shoppers here were hungry for clothing and kin from the Land of the Rising Sun. I remember the initial tenant mix of Liang Court, opened in 1983, which had positioned itself as a Japanese-centric mall, with Diamaru as anchor tenant. It was an orange—colour, not shape—building and I was not able to see what the chromatic choice had to do with Japan.

On the other half of the mall opposite the department store, below what was then Hotel New Otani, shops not divided by walls were selling Japanese merchandise that, at that time, where eye-opening rarities. Muji and Kinokuniya both debuted here. But it was the new conflux of Japanese stores that had fashionistas of the day flock to the not-quite-conveniently-situated mall.

On the second floor, I remember that there was an open-concept emporium called Marusho, which sold, apart from the girlish clothes that looked like they were transplanted from ’80s TV/movie/music star Momoe Yamaguchi’s wardrobe, some rather cute/crazy accessories/trinklets and pretty-as-confectionery bags. The merchandise here, while different from what shoppers had seen and gotten used to at the most popular mall of the time, Plaza Singapura (also anchored by a Japanese department store: Yaohan), wasn’t anything like the unusual offerings of the Japanese-labels-only Banzai, happily attracting followers in Lucky Plaza, which was a lot swankier than it is today.

Lumine P7.jpg

I don’t remember having bought anything at Marusho, but some guys I was hanging out with then were regularly improving the bottomline of the adjacent men’s space Mitsumine. My relationship (it was more of that than with those fellows!) with Marusho was clearly that between shop and window shopper, as their merchandise was too pricey for me, even when, occasionally, that had an irresistible pull.

Elsewhere in the mall (it could be on other floors, I can’t quite recall now), there were retailers selling frilly, floral, even more girlish clothes. There was a Tokyo Style, although neither Tokyo nor style comes back to me now, and a Tanako Accent Palour with demure clothes that was probably dessert for Japanese expat wives who convened at the many Japanese restaurants in Liang Court for lunch, but wasn’t able to tackle the end-of-meal sweets although they wanted to, which wasn’t a craving that retail therapy can’t satiate.

Marusho and co’s success paved the way for other Japanese emporiums, such as Meitetsu, which, in 1984, opened its flagship store in Delfi Orchard, in the same building the first entirely-dedicated-to-Singaporean-designers, Hemispheres, wowed young fashionistas. I do recall that the Nagoya-based Meitetsu was known as a “working women’s store”, which meant clothes—lots of white shirts or beige blouses with lace or crochet Peter Pan collars—that the customers picked to feminise otherwise overtly mannish corporate attire. In 1989, Meitetsu closed for renovations and when it re-opened, half of its original space was sub-leased to international brands such as Christian Dior, Mila Schon and Escada. Before the end of the ’80s, the interest in Japanese fashion had waned.

Lumine P8.jpg

Back to Lumine. I looked at every rack and was not able to see anything that wished to look back at me. Sensing that perhaps I may prefer something different, a cheerful sales staff directed me to the front of the store that faces the concourse of the mall. In this area, quite apart from the rest of the space, and zoned as Lumine Lab, distinguished by its bright blue accents and yellow (!) mannequins, customers may acquaint themselves with some of Tokyo’s design-forward pop-culture brands. Two women in front of me were going through the racks enthusiastically. One of them told the other, “The pieces here are more fashion.”

Lumine Lab is reportedly a “testing ground for experimental brands”. But at launch, there were gyaru staples, such as Emoda (mode gyaru’s motherlode of a brand), Mercuryduo (popular enough that in 2014 Sony collaborated with them to release a premium, limited-edition, and very pink PlayStation Vita), and Murua (another classic gyaru name), all interestingly not-new product lines of the Japanese mass manufacturer Mark Styler, whose many labels are now making major inroads into China, possibly to keep mode gyaru alive. The names may perhaps be unfamiliar to post-post-Noughties consumers here, more enamoured with K-fashion, but if you are into the mindless miscellany that is Exhibit, then perhaps you have found your playground.

To me, the really nice touches thoughout Lumine, including the café, were the clear glass vases in which assorted fresh flowers were bunched to evoke an air of insouciant femininity. Perhaps that was all the prettiness and sweetness needed. Lumine thought of spring even when it’s approaching winter in Japan.

Lumine is at level 2, Clark Quay Central. Photos: Galerie Gombak

Circles In The Sun

Prada Cinema

Prada sunglasses for women have frequently skewed towards masculine styles that alluringly counterpoint their feminine ready-to-wear. Or lady-like, if peculiar, shoes. From aviators to vintage silhouettes, Prada has consistently put their off-beat spin on retro eyewear, making them veritable sculptures for face—very Laurie Anderson on the cover of Big Science, but not Gigi Hadid on the pavement of Beverly Hills.

This season’s Cinéma line, for example, has this shield-and-attract aesthetic positioning. They are clearly designed to protect the eyes from harsh sunlight, but, as they are by no means small, proportioned to draw attention to the countenance of the wearer. These are not easy-to-miss Prada shades.

The circular lenses are a refreshing break from all the quadrilaterals that seem to dominate eyewear design (a trend, in fact, since 2015). What’s even more appealing is that, in the pair pictured here, they are not a perfect round, as if the shape was drawn by hand. But the unusual detail here is the bridge—it is part of the rimless lenses (Prada calls it “incorporated”), which appear to be cut from one piece of acetate. This is then mounted on a half-rim frame, with its own bridge, resulting in a double bridge: the thin lower acting as a sort of underscore for the thicker arch above.

Although the Cinéma line is touted to be ’60s inspired, and the pair featured in the cute Prada-commissioned film to market the spring/summer 2017 collection wouldn’t look out of place in a Visconti film, the latest iteration is the accessory to wear to a Blade Runner-themed party.

Prada Cinema line of sunglasses, from SGD 435 (above), is available at Sunglass Hut and authorised dealers. Photo: Jim Sim

Double The Love


This is literally heart to heart!

Miu Miu has two round rimless lenses sporting a heart-shaped centre sandwiched together with an additional lens in the middle. These triple acetate lenses (yes, three layers!), held together by hexagonal screw, lend textural and monochromatic interest to the sunglasses, in addition to the uncommon combination of shapes.

What is fascinating is the heart in the rear (closest to the eye). It is upside down! Despite the coming together of so many shapes in an almost madcap way, the compressed trio does not affect the wearer’s vision: no strange lines reminiscent of bifocals of the past. Everything is clearly rose-tinted, as it’s meant to be.

This isn’t the first time Miu Miu plays with the heart shape. Previously, it was a heart-frame in which a circle lens was centred. Presently, it’s the reverse. As usual, Prada’s playful sister has something up her surprise-hemmed-in sleeves. I heart you: casting speaking glances can’t be simpler.

Miu Miu ‘Heart’ sunglasses, SGD440, are available at Sunglass Hut. Photo: Zhao Xiangji

Adidas Originals Pairs With An Independent

Adidas Originals X Italia IndependentBy Raiment Young

When it comes to fashion eyewear domination, Italy’s Luxotica group has remained largely unchallenged, so I am repeatedly told. Yet, there are those labels that have been able to go on and do their own thing and still offer creative designs and sensible price. One of them is Italia Independent, the label created in 2007 by Lapo Elkann, dubbed as “the coolest Italian in the world”, who also happens to be Gianni Agnelli’s grandson, and, accordingly, the heir apparent to Fiat.

Perhaps, owner of the label is less important than the designs. Until its debut store in New York last year, not many know of Italia Independent. I had an upfront encounter with their much lauded eyewear eight months ago, during a visit to Florence. It is somewhat inexplicable, even up to now, that although I was in the leather capital of Italy, I was very much smitten not with shoes or bag, but with eyewear. And those of Italia Independent were so alluring that I was seeking them out at every eyewear shop I encountered, all the way to Rome.

Adidas Originals X Italia Independent sunglasses AOR003The sunglasses were especially fetching not for the reason that they were attention-grabbing, oversized, or radiating obvious Italian-retro-cool (such as Persol, another Luxottica brand), but because they imparted a certain sleekness that has nothing to do showiness, such as those of the brash love children of Raybans and some designer shades, you know the type that seems to attract look-at-me fashionistas.

One of the earliest labels to tap Italia Independent’s indie appeal is Adidas Originals. Launched first as footwear in 2014, the Adidas Originals X Italia Independent sneakers did not immediately make waves. I was not particularly impressed as they appeared a tad too designed to me. It would take what the brand is truly known for to bring attention to the collaboration. Last year, their eyewear debut was considered one of the most appealing and also testament to Italia Independent’s strength and ability to built fun on top of the technology behind the glasses.

Adidas Originals X Italia Independent sunglasses AOR010And one of them tech is what Italia Independent calls “thermic”. A special treatment is applied to the surface of some of the frames, and when these are exposed to temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (yes, our daytime temperature), they change colour to expose a base texture, in this case, a repeated pattern based on Adidas’s trefoil logo. This technology is developed by Italia Independent and was awarded Innovation of the Year in 2014 by MIT Review Italy.

Not that I am charmed by this chameleon quality since colour mutability on eyewear, to me, borders on gimmicky, but I have no doubt many others would. What really is even more appealing is the construction of the glasses. They are undeniably sturdy and incredibly light, with a fit that’s really comfortable. Fitted with lenses that protect the eyes from UV rays, these are sporty shades that are destined to face the harshest mid-day light. And since Italia Independent eyewear is, as far as I know, not yet available here, these are the ideal intro to what you’ll otherwise miss.

Adidas Originals X Italia Independent sunglasses for men and women, from SGD185, are available at Nanyang Optical and select retailers. Photos: Italia Independent