High art of retail

The new Robinsons Orchard isn't about a shopping institution's makeover. It redefines the concept of the dated department store. By May Yip

Published Fri, Nov 22, 2013 · 10:00 PM
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IT'S been a tale of modern-day consumerism, a historical shopping haven aimed at filling the emotional and sartorial void of any cash-wielding shopaholic. But in recent years, just like the sepia-toned images of its grand abode in Raffles Place in the 1960s, the romance of local department store giant Robinsons seemed to have faded.

Despite facelifts over the years (a $7 million makeover of its outlet at The Centrepoint in 2005; the opening of an upscale outpost at Marina Bay Sands in 2011 which closed in May), the shopping institution was nevertheless better known for marked-down pillows and figure-forgiving clothing that mum and gran would gravitate towards.

With shoppers milling to on-trend fashion chains, luxury boutiques and online sales sites, one would have thought that the decline of the department store was inevitable. But the retailer's new $40 million flagship, located where The Heeren Shops used to reside, is poised to breathe glamour into the department store concept. Sure, its line-up of 380 new brands, including hyped labels such as The Kooples and Elevenparis, as well as designer names such as Manolo Blahnik and Roland Mouret, may pique the purse strings of those in the know.

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