shouten by biro
Shouten By Biro

“Shouten” means shop in Japanese, and what’s sold in this tiny 310 sq ft-wide space tucked away in a corner on the third floor of Kitchener Complex is equally no-nonsense yet cool. Behind it are brothers Keng How and Kage Chong, who are also behind the utilitarian, made-in-Japan menswear label Biro that’s carried in store.

Of the multi-label store’s curation, Keng How says: “We’re not afraid to introduce brands that are new to Singapore and unheard of here. We believe that through meticulous selection, people will slowly come to appreciate them.”

Similar to Biro, most of the niche lifestyle products available are sourced from various prefectures in Japan and typically boast an artisanal background. Take Takashi Endo, a pottery label started by the eponymous artist from Kanagawa – sales orders have to be placed a year in advance as it’s a one-man production process.

In the works: a subsidiary label of Biro that offers “economically priced” staples for both genders,
set to launch later in the year.

Artisanally made products

“Products that have more depth – when things are handmade or crafted with traditional techniques – tend to be more soulful, for lack of a better word. In Singapore’s retail scene, we don’t really lack anything. If something is not available here, you can always order it online. But the soul that comes about as a result of the hours of slow handiwork adds to the detailing that’s unique to handcrafted works.”

A distinct identity and image

“Global independent stores that we admire include (the 22-year-old cult fashion and lifestyle destination) Need Supply Co. in Virginia in the US, and the multi-label store Graphpaper in Tokyo. (Both are known to be) forward-thinking in their curation and presentation of products in store.”

Sincere engagement with customers

“We feel that most stores have neglected to cultivate customer loyalty. One way to do so is to educate customers on the products in a meaningful and sincere manner.”

This story first appeared in Female’s June 2018 print issue.