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Fashion

Manifesto At Capitol Piazza Has Cool New Niche Labels You'll Love

Walid Zaazaa, founder of multi-label store Manifesto in Capitol Piazza, on what makes his boutique different from others.

Formerly a designer with brands like DKNY and Calvin Klein for 15 years, Frenchman Walid Zaazaa (below) launched this 2,500 sq ft boutique – his first – in May. Here, he sheds light on what makes his store unique:

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THIS IS SG’S ANSWER TO OPENING CEREMONY
“I started Manifesto to fill a gap here for cool foreign brands that are new to town and not overexposed. We hear a lot about people travellling overseas to shop, and I wanted to bring those options here. At this point, I carry around 70 labels with new additions to come every month. Most of them are from France, Italy and the UK; 15 are from Japan; and the rest from the US and Singapore… The idea is for people to come here not to shop, but to explore new names and things, and open their minds.”

EVERYTHING IS CURATED WITH A 
DESIGNER’S EYE
“When I look at merchandise, I look at it from the perspective of a designer, not a retailer. This means that the most important things to me are aesthetics, quality, and a brand’s point of view. Take the small-time Japanese menswear label Gilet. I picked it up because it doesn’t follow industry norms: Sometimes it produces its own items; sometimes it doesn’t. Its collections are always unpredictable and have a sense of humour, like their T-shirt tie-up with sportswear label Champion that featured embroidered motifs of pop culture icons like Mickey Mouse and Jaws.”

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IF YOU LIKE MINIMALISM, YOU’LL LIKE IT HERE
“My personal aesthetic is modern and pared down, and many of the brands I bring in share the same sensibilities. The pieces by Christophe Lemaire and Italy’s Costume National, for example, are subtle and sophisticated with a focus on beautiful fabrics. Barbara Bui is like Costume National, but from France. The same goes for the two Singapore-based jewellers we stock: Ivonovi uses the same high-tech metal used in surgical instruments to create architectural cuffs and necklaces, while Yuki Mitsuyasu’s designs are artistic yet feminine.”

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EXPECT SOME SERIOUS EXCLUSIVITY
“Everything I bring in is in limited quantities, and in some cases, it’s because the brands are so artisanal, they can’t mass produce. Chester Wallace, for example, is an Oregon-based bag brand that has limited production facilities, so I can only buy two to three pieces each time. I brought it in because I like its story: Its first design was a bag meant for a six-pack of beer. We also offer niche labels like Slovakian footwear brand Novesta, which still makes the same sneakers it did 
for the Czechoslovakian communist army in the ’60s. Nothing about its design has changed.”

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IT DOUBLES AS AN ART GALLERY…
“We worked with French-Singaporean architecture firm Wy-To (known for its innovative use of space) to create a layout that’s more like a gallery than a fashion boutique: clean and minimal, lots of open areas, and with a skeleton-like structure in the centre that is both sculpture and display case. The plinths used to showcase the accessories are stackable, and we’re looking at introducing movable racks. The idea is to have a flexible space that will eventually allow us to collaborate with contemporary artists.”

… BUT IT ALSO FEELS LIKE HOME
“We thought it’d be nice to speak to customers over coffee about our products, so we’ve set up a corner with chairs and a coffee table by fashion-forward furniture label Grafunkt for people to relax in. You don’t have to be the creative type; you can be from the corporate world. Manifesto is meant to prove that one can sell luxurious and affordable stuff under the same roof, so everyone’s welcome. There are too many shops here that exclude people.”

An adapted version first appeared in Female’s July issue, out on newsstands now. 

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