Friday, December 7, 2012

The Straits Times : Hipster hooray for two.o.ri

Located in Tiong Bahru, two.o.ri (above) sells items such as clothes and lifestyle items by local and international brands. -- PHOTO: MARK CHEONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

What: two.o.ri

Where: 61 Seng Poh Lane, 01-05

When: 5 to 10pm (Wednesdays to Fridays), 11am to 9pm (Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays), closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Who: The co-owners of fashion boutique nana & bird in Tiong Bahru, Ms Georgina Koh (below right), 32, and Ms Tan Chiew Ling (below left), 32. The duo have collaborated with distribution company Darts, which focuses on international designer brands, to open this eclectic apparel and lifestyle store.
two.o.ri (say "two-ooh-ray") is tucked away in an unlikely location: in a one-storey building in an open-air carpark, with a zi char restaurant and a seafood distributor for neighbours.


Ms Tan, who works in a creative agency, says: "There are a lot of old-school food and beverage outlets here, and a lot of people are surprised to see our shop."

Still, given the hipster enclave that Tiong Bahru has turned into, the shop is well placed.

"We see the potential that traffic will stream down from the busy Yong Siak Street," explains Ms Koh.

Yong Siak Street is where independent bookstore BooksActually and popular coffee joint 40 Hands are located.

The "two" in the shop's name refers to different groups of people interacting with one another, while "ri" is slang for laughter in French.

Having opened their first boutique, nana & bird, in Tiong Bahru last year, the partners decided to open a second, larger one in the same area to stock a wider range of products - from lifestyle items to menswear. nana & bird, which sells women's clothes and accessories, occupies 430 sq ft in a former residential unit on a HDB block's ground floor.

two.o.ri, which officially opened at the end of last month, is twice that size.

The 800 sq ft shop is curved on one side, with squarish cut-outs over clear glass windows that let in light. Black-and-white blinds adorn the shop's full-length glass entrance.

Goods, such as watches, sunglasses and bags, are tastefully arranged on custom-made varnished plywood shelves and tables.

Ms Tan and Ms Koh designed the interior themselves and wanted to create a raw yet welcoming feel. They spent around $10,000 doing up the space.

The shop carries local and international labels for men and women from places such as New Zealand, South Korea and Britain. These include Canadian label Oliberte and home-grown womenswear label aijek.

Clothing costs between $100 and $500. Prices range from $3 for a pen to $1,280 for a leather bag.

The owners are also hoping to make full use of their ample new space to host events - from pop- up stores-within-a-store to collection launches.

Ms Koh says: "We could even get a DJ in to spin or have an artisanal coffee pushcart. Just seeing this as a retail space would be under-utilising it."

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