Published on 20 Oct 2022

Raffles City revamp: What to look out for at the upcoming beauty haven

Beauty aficionados are set to have a new haunt by the end of this year: Raffles City Shopping Centre.

The mall has been unveiling, in phases, a slew of beauty stores to inject new flavour and add diversity to the tenant mix.

These include new-to-market brands such as Anglo-French luxury fragrance house Creed, which opened in October, and French brands Guerlain and Givenchy Beauty, which will open their first standalone flagship boutiques in Singapore in November.

According to Mr Steve Ng, general manager of Raffles City Singapore, more than 50 new brands are being added across the first three levels, in a reconfiguration involving about 111,000 sq ft of retail space. New escalators have also been installed at these levels for greater accessibility.

The revamp kicked off late last year and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.

From Canadian activewear label Lululemon to French beauty giant Sephora, the mall has chosen a slate of "well-established, premium international and local brands" that will offer unique experiential concepts, says Mr Ng.

"We have been carefully curating the tenant mix at Raffles City to cater to the diverse demographics who frequent our mall - both local shoppers and tourists - in alignment with our strategy to be the premier fashion and lifestyle mall of choice. We are refreshing the mall's positioning," he adds.

How Raffles City would fill the void had been a big question mark since Robinsons department store vacated the mall in January 2019. The former anchor tenant had occupied three floors in the shopping centre since 2001. Its closure shocked shoppers and brought the retailer's 162-year legacy to a close.

BHG Singapore moved into the first two floors later that month with a pop-up concept store called One Assembly, although it shuttered after a year.

In place of an anchor tenant, the mall has now gone a different route - bringing in several independent retailers.

Mr Ng says: "While brands like Robinsons left the mall as it exited the Singapore market entirely, some have made a 'bigger and better' comeback, such as Marks & Spencer, which now occupies a bigger space offering a wider range of exclusive products and services."

Brands opening standalone flagship stores and "debuting first-ever store concepts" offer shoppers "excitement and variety, and an opportunity to experience the brand in a more personal way", he adds.

Many are noticeably beauty brands. It began with the introduction of Italian luxury brand Acqua di Parma, known for its fragrances and scents, in March. The store is its first flagship in South-east Asia.

In June, L'Occitane Singapore opened its first eco-concept boutique, designed and furnished with more than 80 per cent recycled materials. It is a hub for the French brand's waste-reduction initiatives, including its Big Little Things recycling programme and product refill fountain. L'Occitane Singapore's first eco-concept boutique is designed and furnished with more than 80 per cent recycled materials. PHOTO: L'OCCITANE

Soon after, beauty retailer Sephora announced it would be opening its 11th Singapore branch in the mall, and used the real estate to debut its first technology-driven Store of the Future.

December will see Dior Beauty, Jo Malone London and Maison Francis Kurkdjian unveiling new stores too.

While Mr Ng declined to comment on whether the mall was aiming to reposition itself as a beauty destination, the new tenant mix suggests it is eyeing the thriving crop of luxury beauty consumers.

After all, the global luxury cosmetics market continues to boom. It is expected to reach US$80.57 billion (S$115 billion) by 2028, according to a report by market research firm Million Insights. It added that the Asia-Pacific market is expected to register the fastest compound annual growth rate of 4.7 per cent from 2021 to 2028.

And the model has proven successful for fellow premium mall Takashimaya Shopping Centre, which created a beauty floor of sorts in the basement that includes many of the same brands that are opening in Raffles City.

Takashimaya has also been in an ongoing shuffle of its tenant curation. It recently added stores from new-to-market brands such as cult Indonesian fashion label Claude and British perfume house Roja Parfums, alongside Singaporean names like footwear label Anothersole and activewear brand Kydra. More On This Topic Takashimaya takeover: Proudly S'porean fashion brands spice up the luxury mall Cosmetics, curation, cashless payment: How Sephora is redefining the future of beauty retail

Retail experts say tenant curation is key in determining the target clientele for each mall.

Dr Lynda Wee, an adjunct associate professor at Nanyang Business School, says it is important for malls to "be focused on their target catchment, instead of a general audience", and curate tenants who serve this target catchment well and reinforce the mall's positioning.

As it is situated near office buildings, Raffles City draws a regular crowd of office workers, she says. "Hence, looking and feeling good are compelling value propositions for the working crowd."

The mall can tap this "strong theme" of beauty and fashion to host events such as fashion shows and beauty workshops, and tie its food and beverage tenants in, she adds. Acqua di Parma's Raffles City store is its first flagship in South-east Asia.

Ms Lim Xiu Ru, a lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's School of Business, notes that attracting the right clientele is a combined effort from all tenants. "Each tenant's offering has the potential to help form a perception in customers' minds, and all need to contribute to the mall's intended positioning."

She believes Raffles City may be "tapping" post-pandemic consumer trends towards wellness and premiumisation.

"Consumers are focusing on the mind and body's well-being. If Raffles City can position itself as the go-to for the exploration and discovery of beauty and wellness brands, this move can continue to attract existing and new shoppers," she adds, pointing to how neighbouring malls Funan and Capitol Singapore have their own niches.

The mall's new direction away from an anchor tenant also has other advantages. There is "reduced reliance on one big anchor tenant and its reduced footfall, as well as the ability to excite shoppers by having many different brands and concepts", says Ms Lim.

"The mall management also has greater control over the choice of independent brands to bring in, ensuring a good curation of concepts which complement rather than cannibalise one another."

Dr Wee adds that the convenience of department stores, which "house independent brands via counters too, has been eroded".

She says: "The mall offers the same convenience and allows brands to project their brand essence via their shopfront. Malls also offer loyalty cards so purchases across different brands are recognised and rewarded." More On This Topic The secret to toppling giants? Local brand says it's all about the customer experience Retro round-up of Singapore's earliest malls New fashion and beauty additionsOpened in SeptemberAesop, 01-44A Australian label Aesop's revamped store in Raffles City is designed as a poetic interpretation of Singaporean life. ST PHOTO: AMANDA CHAI

No longer an enclave of brass fixtures (or situated at the opposite end of the mall), the Australian label's revamped store is designed as a poetic interpretation of Singaporean life.

Everyday sights in the city have been woven into textural elements of the store design. The resin shelves and basins draw from the plasticky sauce bottles, trays and chairs from local coffee shops, while the polished metal fixtures all around are a nod to the many handrails spotted in the country.

Everything is set against a backdrop of earthy stucco - Aesop's tribute to the nature that surrounds the urban jungle.

New and exclusive to the store is the brand's first Fragrance Armoire, a stainless-steel hidden wardrobe that opens up to reveal Aesop's full range of perfumes. Customers can have a seat in this intimate alcove to discover the eight genderless scents.

If you are itching to try the complete range of skin, hair and body care products beyond just sampling at the central basin, do it over at the individual steel basin - designed to look like your personal bathroom, where you can apply products straight onto your face - and imagine them forming your new self-care ritual at home.Chanel, 01-03/04

The luxury house's newly renovated fragrance and beauty boutique is stretched across two entrances and has an expanded retail space of 88 sq m.

In Chanel's signature tones of black and white, with a touch of gold, the new store has defined areas for its make-up, fragrance, skincare and in-boutique exclusives.

Discover its most premium skincare range Sublimage in the Sublimage Area, bathed in gold just like the collection's luxe packaging. It also houses Les Exclusifs de Chanel, a collection of premium fragrances inspired by the different chapters of founder Gabrielle Chanel's life.

Alongside a skincare wall and fragrance bar, there is the full range of Chanel make-up that you can try on digitally or physically - with the help of personalised consultations and make-up tips from the brand's beauty consultants.

those who love a spot of fashion, this boutique houses a comprehensive selection of Chanel sunglasses, offering customers an easy way to pair their eyewear with their make-up looks.

The French beauty giant's first Store of the Future is designed like a beauty tech playground.

Product displays have been optimised for customers' play. At an interactive table of skincare, "lift and learn" technology allows you to pick up a product and see information about it light up on a screen, while at the make-up table, iPads screen videos of local content creators teaching you how to create trending looks with specific products.

The store also offers an expanded service catalogue to include paid, sit-down make-up, haircare and styling services, including Perk By Hydrafacial ($90 for 30 minutes), a non-invasive facial treatment available for the first time at Sephora.

A dedicated event space hosts mostly free masterclasses and events for customers too. The revolutionary store is also the first in the region to be entirely cashless, so you can check out from anywhere in the store.

The House of Creed has opened its first store in Singapore. The luxury niche perfume house's fragrances are known worldwide, with some of its bestsellers - namely Aventus, Green Irish Tweed and Silver Mountain Water - having reached cult status within the scent-loving community.

Said to have been founded in 1760 as a custom tailoring company, the Anglo-French brand raised its profile tailoring for royals, including Queen Victoria, Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie.

Fragrance came into the picture when sixth-generation scion Olivier Creed introduced perfumes, which the brand says are blended via a technique akin to wine-making, in a factory on the outskirts of Fontainebleau, just south of Paris.

As the brand's master perfumer, Mr Olivier and his son Erwin source the materials for Creed's elite line of fragrances today.

At its new Raffles City boutique - luxuriously furnished with marble countertops and gilded finishings - find the latest launch, Wind Flowers ($428), as well as the store-exclusive Les Royales Exclusives collection (from $720), a range of bejewelled perfumes crafted with high-quality essences. The House of Creed has opened its first store in Singapore at Raffles City.

The store will also offer services such as product personalisation and tailored fragrance profiling.

Before this, Creed fragrances were available at Escentials at Paragon and Ion Orchard, distributed here by home-grown luxury beauty group Luxasia.Pedro, 02-36A/37 Home-grown footwear brand Pedro opens in Raffles City. PHOTO: PEDRO

The home-grown footwear brand's newest store is also the first to debut its new logo following a pandemic revamp. Founded in 2006 and owned by the Charles & Keith Group, Pedro offers men's and women's footwear and accessories.

The new store concept revolves around Effortless Essentials, reflected in the design and colour scheme as well as product offerings. All clean lines, fluid shapes and bright white spaces, the store's architecture highlight is a curved hallway dividing the space into two sections.

It is yet another Uniqlo - but this one, factoring in its location in the centre of offices and hotels, will focus on providing everyday apparel needs for working adults and travellers, via all-new services.

For business professionals, select staff (from Uniqlo's styling app StyleHint) will be on-site to recommend appropriate outfits for business travel, while a feature wall showcases the latest workwear stylings as inspiration. Selected reviews for popular items from local shoppers will also be featured.

The fitting rooms have a thoughtful new addition - work bags and shoes are placed outside, so shoppers can get a quick visualisation of their outfit, plus face covers to prevent stains from make-up. The fitting rooms at Uniqlo Raffles City have work bags and shoes placed outside, so shoppers can get a quick visualisation of their outfit.

In a rush and need a quick new outfit? The store has also introduced steam ironing services for newly purchased items, so you can look spiffy right away before jetting off to your next meeting.

Travellers, too, get helpful new services. Those staying at the nearby Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford can tap the all-new concierge delivery service to have purchases delivered to their hotel rooms. Exclusively available at the Raffles City store to tourists with no minimum spending, the service requires shoppers to present their hotel room card and details during the in-store purchase.

Free taxi services will also be provided for the first 100 monthly tourists who spend a minimum of $150 here. Tourists can redeem a voucher worth $20 for Comfort Taxi rides from Raffles City.Diptyque, 01-05 The Diptyque store in Raffles City is designed as a home away from the Parisian brand's home.

The second outpost of French fragrance brand Diptyque will make you feel at home, literally. Slated to open later this month and designed as a home away from the Parisian brand's home, the store is a harmonious blend of cultural influences.

A central fireplace and mouldings typical of French apartments are juxtaposed with "colonial-style" touches such as a wood-and-glass furniture unit, rattan panelling and wooden openwork ceiling. Some furniture pieces designed by Singapore-based Studio Kallang make an appearance too.

Styled to resemble a vast apartment, the space is sectioned into rooms for customers to meander through and discover the various Diptyque ranges.

At the entrance, a wooden console displays the brand's popular collection of perfumes in signature oval bottles. One of the coloured wall niches holds the Art du Soin collection for the body, available in a palette of textures that range from oils and solids to foams and balms.

The space gets cosier as you venture in, furnished with rugs and vases, a boucle-upholstered sofa, and bookcases of scented candles. Fans can also find the brand's wide range of home scents and decorative accessories that include candlesticks, diffusers, paperweights and lanterns for enhancing candle flames. Opening in NovemberGivenchy Beauty, 01-40B Givenchy Beauty's Raffles City outlet will house an exclusive product range that includes its premium skincare range, Le Soin Noir.

At the French brand's upcoming first boutique in Singapore, shop from an exclusive product range that includes the La Collection Particuliere de Givenchy, a premium couture fragrance range, and its premium skincare range, Le Soin Noir.

The brand's beauty beginnings trace back to 1957, when French designer Hubert de Givenchy launched his first perfume, L'Interdit, as an homage to his friend, British actress Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn reportedly forbade the designer to market the brand for a year - giving rise to its name, which means "The Forbidden" in French.

The floral fragrance has gone through numerous iterations over the years and remains Givenchy's most iconic perfume today.

At the store, you can also browse the full range of make-up and popular Prisme Libre line, which includes the TikTok-viral Prisme Libre Loose Powder ($95), Blush ($74) and Skin Caring Glow Foundation ($87) - previously available only at Sephora stores and Takashimaya Department Store.

In-store services include complimentary skincare consultations, personalisation and make-up touch-up services. All purchases come with complimentary engraving and gift wrapping.Guerlain, 01-40 Guerlain at Raffles City will be the French luxury beauty brand's first permanent standalone boutique in Singapore.

Slated to open in November is Guerlain's first permanent standalone boutique. It currently has counters at department stores and a pop-up concept store at Ion Orchard.

In the French luxury beauty brand's signature hues of black, gold and beige, the new store embodies its emblematic bee concept.

Here, you can find the full range of make-up, skincare and fragrances, as well as L'Art de Vivre, a collection of home fragrances spanning candles and diffusers. Scents figure heavily in the store - after all, Guerlain began as a small, family-owned perfume business.

The store will also house the brand's first facial cabin in Singapore, offering an array of services including a bespoke skin rejuvenation facial using Guerlain's most premium Orchidee Imperiale line.

Die-hard fans can snap up a limited-edition Bee Bottle fragrance - an annual reinterpretation of a signature product for Guerlain. This year's "Imagine" edition draws from haute jewellery savoir-faire and features a bejewelled bee atop handset, glittering crystals. Priced at €600 (S$836), only 15 pieces will be available to purchase in Singapore at the boutique.

Source: The Straits Times