The current scene of streetwear in Singapore has youths thrifting for vintage pieces from brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Fila. Most of these pieces are hard to procure as they are from many years ago and this adds to the ‘hype’ factor because of their limited availability.
But what about the higher-end brands such as Supreme? The scene of hype has always been changing but the brand has withstood the test of time and its merchandise is still being resold for at least twice their value.
But the thing is, while vintage clothing is the current trend, Supreme items in these places/Instagram accounts are rather limited, or few and far between.
And that is how I ended up at the very doors of Outsiders by Intruders, or Outsiders for short.
For those of you who didn’t know, Outsiders is a consignment shop in Singapore specialising in the sale of the world-famous skate brands Supreme and Palace. They are located amongst the myriad of stores in Far East Plaza.
I saw their collection of sneakers from the outside and was instantly tempted to blow my whole salary. Clutching my wallet with an iron grip, I pushed the glass door open.
Stepping in, you are immediately greeted by a sales rack.
For those of you who didn’t know, other than apparel, Supreme also has its own collection of accessories as well as knick-knacks. They range from everyday items such as mugs and ashtrays to mats and even bicycles. Outsiders has a collection of these items ready for sale.
Walking further into the store, you will see a bear brick collection and a selection of Supreme accessories.
The trademark Supreme Photo tees hang near the cashier counter.
At the very end of the store is where the latest apparel can be found.
I had the opportunity to meet with Gordon Chiu, General Manager at Outsiders to learn more about the store and what they do. He has requested to not have his face shown.
Most of the Supreme items in the store are imported directly from Outsider stores in the United Kingdom. This surprised me as I had the assumption that Outsiders was a small, standalone store by themselves.
Gordon enlightened me that Outsiders has stores not only in the United Kingdom, but in China as well. Most of the Supreme and Palace items in store are imported from the United Kingdom outlet, as they have the easiest access to these brands.
On Supreme drop days, Outsider’s UK outlet will begin selling the items on the same day as the drop, however, due to the time taken for the items to ship to Singapore, the outlet here will only receive it in one week. The racks are constantly updated with every drop, so you can be sure that you won’t be seeing the same thing every time you walk in.
“We get our stuff from our UK outlet, which Supreme sells directly to. If we really have to buy here, we only buy from people we trust. We don’t keep the receipt, but we keep the plastic that comes with each Supreme shirt and show customers if they ask for it,” Gordon explained.
“People have tried to sell to us, but usually unless we really want the item, we only buy from people we trust.” Gordon’s voice dropped to a more serious tone. “One wrong move and our reputation is gone.”
“People have tried to sell me fakes before, some of them are so bad that just one look and I can tell.”
He proceeded to show me one of the ways to verify the authenticity of off-white shoes. “Part of the text here is supposed to fade off. Last time, someone came in with a shoe that didn’t have the fade. I straight away asked to see the receipt and the guy said he didn’t have it (obviously).”
You can forget about pulling a fast one on Gordon or any of the staff. Before his job here at Outsiders, Gordon was an avid collector of Supreme merchandise himself. He even has the Supreme dirt bike that he placed in the store, which currently has a market value of about S$12,000. He has however, been slowly selling away his collection after he started work at Outsiders. “I go to work and I go home I see the same things very sian one. I rather my stuff go to someone who collects and appreciates them.”
I then asked Gordon about the shoes the store has acquired from China and my concern that they may be fake.
“Think about it, where are the shoes actually made in?” With just this statement, Gordon rebutted any argument I had in my head.
You can’t blame me for having that doubt. The infamous shopping platform from China, Taobao, is loaded with replicas of every brand, some of which have such good craftsmanship that they look authentic to the untrained eye.
“The Yeezy market is huge, and it’s very easy to get the shoes in China. The market is about the same size as the fake shoe market. You think about it, how many Adidas stores are there in China as compared to Singapore?” Gordon pointed out.
It’s not limited to China as well. Gordon shared with me that Outsiders has people all over the world queueing whenever there’s a new drop, so they’re able to acquire all these sick kicks before in all their outlets.
There was this burning question in my head. With such high confidence in the items they carry and with experienced staff to match, Why was Outsiders so quiet? In my hour-long talk with Gordon, I could count the number of customers who walked in with one hand. And only two of them were, or at the very least, looked like locals.
“Outsiders was set up to target the foreigners that come to Singapore for holiday. We hardly get Singaporeans that come in to buy anything, although we do have regulars. About 70% of our customers are from China, Taiwan, Japan, and Indonesia. The Caucasians actually don’t buy much, they just like to come in and look.”
Gordon told me that the reason why Outsiders sees very little patronage from our countrymen is that most Singaporeans resort to the online market using applications like CAROUSELL and StockX.
“What they don’t know is that our prices are actually below the StockX prices. Once something is here the price will not go up and it will only go down (over time).”
“You can see the sales rack over here, these are past season items. Once the season has passed, we will place the items here and they go for a lot cheaper than the retail price. The pants, for example, can go for 50-100 dollars cheaper.”
“Usually people (Singaporeans) are afraid to come in. They are either scared of feeling paiseh for walking in without buying or are scared that we go up to them and disturb them with the typical “can I help you?” spiel like in other shops. But we don’t. When they come in I just say hello and they do their own thing while I do mine. Whether they want to buy or not is up to them.”
“We don’t judge what you wear as well, it doesn’t mean that when you come in here you have to dress like a hypebeast.”
There is a good reason why, unlike most articles you see on this site, that I have not listed many prices of items down in this article, and that is because Outsiders themselves do not list down the prices of their items on their Instagram page.
“We have done it once, and the next thing you know people rush down to buy without asking anything. Next thing you know, we are out of stock. And we still get people rushing down. Definitely, we can earn a lot more if we post our prices, but we don’t want that.”
Outsiders don’t aim to be a place people go to just because of their prices. Gordon added that they would like people to visit the store because they genuinely like the items here.
“Usually, if we see that someone really likes an item, or we talk and we have a good chat, we offer a discount.”
It seems that money isn’t the only thing that isn’t being transacted here. “It’s just more meaningful to exchange conversations. It makes the experience more than just coming in to buy something,” Gordon added.
I resonated so much with Gordon’s words. When we live in a fast-paced country like Singapore where everybody is just so kanchiong with their daily lives, we often lose touch with our fellow countrymen and such precious interactions are few and far between.
Before you leave Far East Plaza, don’t forget to check out the Intruders store, operated by the same management. You won’t find any footwear, Supreme or Palace here, but instead, you’ll see high-end brands like Off-White. There is also a good mix of Anti-Social Social Club and Smoking Kills amongst other brands.
Although I left Outsiders with my credit card intact, I gained a wealth of experience from my one hour chat with Gordon.
Outsiders By Intruders will always come to my mind whenever I think of the Supreme brand, and I will definitely return to purchase something — once I have the means to splurge. I am thankful that my job has enabled me to connect with a total stranger through fashion and discover something more important.
In my short time at Outsiders, I learnt so much—shops like Outsiders aren’t just businesses where you simply walk in, buy something and then walk out—all you have to do for a more enriching shopping experience is to open up and strike up a conversation. After all, I am confident that you aren’t concealing gold in your mouth.
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