The best and worst fashion shopping experiences: The good, the bad and the ugly according to Team Buro.

The best and worst fashion shopping experiences: The good, the bad and the ugly according to Team Buro.

Retail therapy (?)

Text: Ryan Sng

Whether it's changing rooms with limited privacy or intrusive/plain clueless retail associates, brick-and-mortar stores have their downsides. Sometimes, though, there's nothing quite like whiling away the weekend with aimless window-shopping. We asked Team Buro. to share their best and worst retail experiences, and guess that some of you readers will more than identify with some of them. Shopping — it's a universally love-hate relationship.


"Sales associates at local boutiques in Ho Chi Minh and Jakarta are really polite. They recommend pieces suited to your body type, and even take your preferences into account." — Charmaine Tai, Editor/Content Strategist

"Every three months, I make a trip to Kuala Lumpur just to shop at Monki, and it's a therapeutic experience every time I'm there. Patterned dresses that actually come in my size? It's a shopping wonderland." — Hazirah Rahim, Digital Creative

"My best brick-and-mortar fashion experience? One time, a random uncle told me to "just buy it, lah" after watching me deliberate over a pair of biker boots for half an hour. Greatest. Decision. Ever." — Emily Heng, Beauty Writer

"I was pleasantly surprised to find engaging personalities and excellent customer service at a few independent streetwear stores in Kuala Lumpur." — Aravin Sandran, Culture Editor

"When SK Vintage — where Kate Moss now shops, incidentally — opened a stone’s throw from my university halls of residence in London's Tufnell Park, I knew I was in trouble. Beyond the many wonderful pieces I acquired, its founder Sarah was one of the funniest and warmest people I’d ever met; she would even console me after particularly brutal design critiques at school. She didn’t have a choice, really; her shop was smack between the tube station and the halls, and I would usually dissolve into tears long before reaching my room. God bless, Sarah!" — Ryan Sng, Fashion Writer


"In Singapore, sales staff are often unable to communicate the sophistication of the labels they stock, which ends up demeaning the privileged experience of shopping. I shop exclusively on European multi-label e-commerce sites as a result." — Aravin Sandran, Culture Editor

"Store employees always follow me around, and roll their eyes when I don't buy anything afterwards." — David Bay, Videographer

"At a well-known designer boutique in Paris, the staff couldn't be bothered serving me. It felt like a really rushed transaction, something along the lines of, "If you're not buying this right now, I'm putting it back" with the staff holding onto the item and huffing. I didn't even feel happy making the purchase in the end. I really dislike how certain luxury brands 'eye' their customers and decide how to treat them, especially when it's inside my wallet that counts... " — Charmaine Tai, Editor/Content Strategist

"Every time I step into Forever 21. Their organisational system is non-existent, queues are out-the-door, and the piece that catches your eye is always, somehow, "for display purposes only." Uh, okay." — Emily Heng, Beauty Writer

"Once upon a time at a fashion/design tradeshow, I decided to try on a couple of vintage dresses. I commented on my unease with the flimsiness of the temporary/collapsible changing room (singular) to the very young and skittish student running the stand in its owners’ absence. She laughed and reassured me that my modesty would be protected at all cost. As I was wriggling out of dress #2, apparently flustered by an impatient browser, the deer-in-headlights student yanked open the curtains and revealed — to more people than God intended to know, surely — I wasn’t wearing good underwear that day." — Ryan Sng, Fashion Writer


"My worst shopping experience naturally involved my retail-adverse father. In Las Vegas. With lingerie. Allow me to explain. During my family holiday, I decided I had to visit the Savage x Fenty store. Had to. I thought the universe was on my side — not only was a majority of the stock on sale, everything I wanted came in my size. That was the extent of my luck that evening.

I had forgotten to bring money (typical), so I walked out to borrow a wad of cash from daddy dearest, who was waiting for me (somewhat patiently) outside the store with mother. Alas, Savage x Fenty is already in 3019: it’s a cashless retail outlet. Because their entire system is online and there was a lag on the connection to their server, the store manager had trouble inputting my items into the virtual cart. Fifteen minutes later, success. But wait, my credit card was rejected.

I trotted back out, tail between my legs, to borrow my father’s. “No, they don’t take cash. Yes I absolutely need the lingerie.” By then, all dignity was lost. He accompanied me back to the counter, only to find that the store manager had already begun to tend to another customer. Short of kicking up a fuss, the man folded his arms and tapped his foot while I sweated like a pig.

After what felt like an hour, it was our turn — again. The new credit card (thankfully) was accepted though I just about died when dad admonished the sales assistant for her leisurely packing. His “can’t you just put them in the bag?” bullet as she attempted to salvage her botched wrapping with trembling hands (no doubt caused by the anxiety we induced the poor woman) will forever haunt me." — Jolene Khor, Fashion Editor

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