The focus on sustainability in the world of fashion has undeniably gained prominence, with a growing number of companies committed to producing environmentally-friendly and ethically produced clothing emerging as major players, and other brands whose production practices were previously shady-at-best making genuine and sincere efforts to improve. Organisations like Good On You and Fashion Revolution are dedicated to educating consumers, informing them of companies with ethical production practices, as well as those that are lacking in this department. However, for many teenagers with a love for fashion and a limited budget, there’s a real struggle finding brands that are simultaneously affordable and also sustainable. Therefore, it’s easy to see why thrifting secondhand, vintage clothing is becoming a popular alternative to buying new.
Having said that; however, a quick google for ‘Vintage fashion Singapore’ still only returns limited results like Dustbunny Vintage and Deja Vu Vintage which, whilst selling dresses from the 50s and 60s, don’t really cater for the youth market. After some more digging though, I soon came to find that Instagram is practically bursting at the seams with Singapore-based vintage clothing and accessories boutiques. The vast majority of these stores are selling 90s and 2000s streetwear at high-street prices, and have often been carefully curated and presented, making for an easier way to shop than digging through the racks at Salvation Army for 3 hours. One such brand I was able to reach out and ask a few questions to was EMPIRE (@empire.fash and @empire.reworks on instagram).
EMPIRE is a partnership of 5 students in their 20s, most of whom are from EXIT CO, a Singapore store selling hype, streetwear, and vintage clothing. Partners at EXIT CO helped to establish EMPIRE in June 2019 for launch in August the same year. They’re based in a physical store, quite a rarity of Singaporean vintage clothing brands, at Orchard Plaza (#05-10), and are hoping to expand online soon, reaching a wider audience with their one-of-a-kind modified vintage and streetwear items.
They see the unique nature of their vintage pieces as their strongest appeal. The argue on their website that, ‘fast fashion is becoming less unique with high street fashion being too generic’. With vintage pieces like those sold at EMPIRE, customers feel that they can stand out from the crowd. They also cite the experience of shopping second hand as another reason for the success of vintage stores, as well as the environmental benefits, and the new appeal of vintage clothing as current streetwear.
EMPIRE firmly believes that it can build up a strong reputation for its reworked items, not only in Singapore, but throughout Asia as both the popularity of shopping second-hand shopping and the reach EMPIRE has grows.
Other great Singapore-based vintage streetwear clothing brands include:
Exit CO- @exit_co, @exit_qw, @exit_thenorm, @exit_vintage
Wholly Vintage- @whollyvintage
Loop Garms- @loopgarms
SecondSkin vintage- @secondskinvault