A bi-annual affair that never fails to light up our creative spirits — “Boutiques at the Pit Building” is a shopping fair like no other. The large-scale shopping event is the platform of choice for burgeoning fashion and design talents and is probably your best chance at discovering an emerging brand or designer before they skyrocket to fame.
Started in 2000, “Boutiques at the Pit Building” now hosts 150 independent fashion and home décor businesses and is what we truly consider a playground for fashion lovers and home décor enthusiasts. A production of such scale would surely intimidate anyone, yet, Founder and Fair Director of Singapore’s longest running curated fair — Charlotte Cain — manages to make the entire event run like clockwork. We take a peek behind the curtains to unveil some behind-the-scenes exclusives as well as steal a few of Charlotte’s inside tips on how you milk a shopping trip at “Boutiques”!
How did the idea for Boutiques at The Pit Building first come about?
The idea first came about 16 years ago. We were a couple of friends involved in the arts and we had always felt the absence of a platform that served small bespoke and design-centric businesses. We knew of so many women realising their dreams of starting a business but they — like us — had a hard time finding a platform that allowed for close interaction with customers. Customer feedback and dialogue is such an important aspect of starting a business and we wanted to try to create the right environment to facilitate that.
Every year, “Boutiques” just seems to get bigger and better! How do you keep the momentum going?
I am so inspired by the amazing businesses that participate in Boutiques at The Pit Building. The number of small businesses that cater to the design-led approach have just grown exponentially over the years. As “Boutiques” grows, so do the vendors’ enthusiasm in setting up beautiful and ever so creative boutique spaces. Their passion keeps me motivated. I couldn’t be more pleased to be able to provide a platform for them to showcase all their hard work and brilliant designs.
We’ve always wondered how you’ve managed such a massive event. Can you tell us a little bit about the logistics involved?
There is a tremendous amount of logistics involved, from applying for government licences, layout planning, vendor communication, advertising, marketing and tons of other aspects that need to be tended to. Fortunately, I have a fantastic assistant who just works wonders time and time again.
What are the major changes at the upcoming edition of Boutiques at the Pit Building?
Over and above the amazing new businesses that we’ve brought onboard, we have for the first time enabled vendors to display in larger spaces, so watch out for these all-inspiring pop-up boutique spaces.
We are thrilled that majority of businesses will be launching brand new Spring/Summer 2016 collections. What an honour it is for “Boutiques” to be the platform for this! We are also extremely excited about the all-new Artspace in the Rose room right next to the Lounge designed and styled by Make Room, who by the way, are launching a new line of furniture at the event. The Lounge will boast more room for shoppers to relax, and catch up with friends while enjoying a glass of champagne or wine from the fabulous ‘Pop Up Wine’ Bar.
And now that we are talking drinks…let me also introduce the fantastic collaboration between Cedele and Rice. The Cedele Cafe will be styled with a burst of colourful furniture and homewares — a true inspiration for anybody who is craving some home decor inspiration. We have also expanded the PlaySpace in the Green Room — all credit goes to The Children’s Showcase for setting up this creative space where kids will have hours of fun.
How does Boutiques cater to the different types of shoppers out there?
“Boutiques” is built around creative, design-led collections that showcase unique and original designs and collections from independent and sometimes lesser-known businesses.
We know our customer base very well from so many years of experience with organising the event. We present a full spectrum of fashion for women, men and kids that range from casual to formal. We also have home décor in a variety of styles that run the gamut from bright and bold colours to muted classic Scandinavian designs. I guess a little bit of everything within a tightly curated platform goes a long way.
We love the selection of local and design-focused businesses showcasing at Boutiques, what is it about these brands that made you sit up and take notice?
I love when designers show a strong and distinctive collection. “Boutiques” is really for the customer who is not interested in mainstream, mall shopping, and who is looking for that strong, individual style. Beyond that, it just feels so good to support small businesses and actually meet the designers. They are all there!
What are your pro tips for bagging the best buys at Boutiques?
If you enjoy crowds then mornings are the time for you to shop but if you would prefer a more relaxing shopping experience then afternoons would be the better choice. We have extended the shopping hours to 8pm on Friday (11 Mar). This will be the perfect time to meet with friends and colleagues in the Lounge and shop to your heart’s delight. I would literally start at one end of the event space and plot my way through each and every boutique present. It’s not uncommon for customers to spend the entire day at “Boutiques” and return the following day for more. Not to forget, there’s plenty of food, drinks, coffee and good vibes in store. Just take note of where the Playspace and Lounge is located.
You’ll be introducing a slew of lifestyle pop-ups and workshops such as wine-tasting courses and make-up masterclasses, what’s the reason behind this?
It’s always nice to try something new and the hands-on make-up workshops by celebrity make-up artist Cheryl Ow are a perfect tie-in with our Spring 2016 theme. (Contact Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details) While shopping is definitely the main highlight of the event, we included the ‘Pop Up Wine’ champagne and wine tasting workshops for a dash of free-spirited fun.
Men usually feel a little neglected at such major shopping events, what do you have in store for them?
Oh, plenty. To start with, there’s Threads in Common, which is 100% dedicated to men’s fashion. Colony Clothing and Riri by Riri will be bringing in beautiful shirts and more, while Hat of Cain’s pop-up hat salon features genuine Panama hats in all shapes and sizes. Block out some time for Tom + Teddy — the go-to space for men’s and boy’s swimwear and Italic & Bold, which stocks plenty of cool accessories for men. Fiona Kain from Artomobile is bringing her amazing hand painted vintage car designs on fine art paper. You can order bespoke pieces from her too — in case you need the perfect finishing touch for your swanky bachelor pad or man cave. Then, of course there is the Artistry Beer Bar just across from the Playspace and a men-only wine tasting workshop that honestly, sounds like so much fun!
Boutiques backs a number of charities and involves elements of sustainability, how do you see this contributing to the bigger picture?
Many of the participating businesses incorporate some aspect of social responsibility— whether through partnerships with NGOs, the adoption of fair trade practices and more. It’s all about the story — the story of who creates the products and how we can be responsible shoppers. A huge percentage of the collections at “Boutiques” are made by artisans and small family owned businesses in and around Asia.
We support charities by offering them a complimentary space to engage with our customer base and share their story. I am happy to announce that Ladli (formerly known as I-India) will be making a comeback at “Boutiques”. Ladli is a vocational training programme that empowers street children in India to learn a skill and break out of poverty. The founder of Ladli will be present at “Boutiques” and I personally cannot wait to meet her and hear her amazing story. The charities participating this year are: Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support, Cause, Coffee, HOME. Ladli, NCA, Open Book Editions, The Nail Social and Soule.
When: Friday, Mar 11, 2016 | 9am – 8pm & Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 | 9am – 6pm
Where: F1 Pit Building, No. 1 Republic Boulevard, #02-01, #02-02 and #02-03, Singapore 038975
Payment method: Cash, VISA, Mastercard, AMEX & NETS
Admission: Free (Wheelchair-accessible and stroller-friendly)