By Nadine Kam
Thai designs range from the Euro-chic above, to the very cutesy Alice in Wonderland sort of dress and separates, below. — Nadine Kam photos
BANGKOK, THAILAND — It's always fun to see what designers from around the world are doing, and the malls in Bangkok provide a fascinating showcase for it's entrepreneurs and designers.
At Terminal 21 in the Sukhumvit area, a whole floor is dedicated to local fashion, though it tends to get repetitive after a while, with boutiques showing a whole lot of skirts and cropped tops. Perfect for the shorter Asian torso, I noted enviously. It's the exact opposite of the West, where tops are needlessly elongated. Don't designers realize most of us aren't model height?
The downside is that Thai women must have tiny breasts because the tops don't accommodate more than an A cup. The upside is that I didn't spend any money on clothing in Thailand. (I left all my money in Bali shops anyway.)
There were much more Westernized designs at the Siam Center, where a lot of the local designers seem to take their cue from Prada or Alexander McQueen, with price points from $400 to $1,000. There was enough talent and originality on display to make me wonder whether Asia follows the west, or vice versa.
Siam Center is across from Siam Paragon, which features more familiar brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Emporio Armani, and Zara.
With four days in Bangkok, I thought I'd look around before purchasing anything, but on the last day returned to Terminal 21 to pick up two pieces I liked. Unfortunately, in this metropolis of more than 8.3 million people, turnaround is quick, and when I asked the salesperson, "Where's the blue dress you had the other day?" She just said, "Finished." Sigh.
People hang clothing from a Wishing Tree next door to the Lumpini Marriott. The hair, clothing or other personal effects of a sickly person are fixed to the tree with the hope of transferring the sickness and healing the individual.
Bangkok is known for its many street vendors, but nearby, in the Sukhumvit area, this man offers clothing alterations on the street, using a Singer sewing machine.
At Terminal 21, also along Sukhumvit Road and accessible via Sky Train, floors are loosely themed to world destinations including Rome, Paris, Japan, the U.K., San Francisco, and here, the Caribbean. The Japan floor also features several Thai retailers and designers, each with no more than 50 to 150 square feet of space. It's great that Bangkok's major malls has made the commitment to promote it's regional designers. A forward-thinking landlord needs to make the same kind of commitment to Hawaii designers.
Seating at the Siam Center, off the Sky Train Siam Station, spells out "Absolute Siam."
Each store within the Siam Center creates its own unique environment, from standard storefront, to open space, to arty hut.
Clothing in the window at Tango, at Siam Center.