Two thousand people formed a snaking queue at Uniqlo's new flagship store at Orchard Central mall early yesterday morning, waiting for its doors to swing open at 10am.
Many in waiting hankered for a welcome gift bag comprising a limited-edition tote - designed by home-grown art collective Tell Your Children, based on their perspectives of Singapore - mall vouchers, a welcome drink and a Uniqlo aluminium sports bottle.
Shoppers, who were welcomed by about 300 staff, were also enticed by weekend promotions, workshops and lucky-dip prizes of food and beverage vouchers amounting to $40,000 in total.
The new three-storey store is the high-street fashion brand's first flagship in South-east Asia. The Japanese label, which opened its first store here eight years ago, now has 25 outlets in Singapore. Worldwide, there are more than 1,700 stores spanning countries such as Australia, China and Germany.
Ms Chew Hsiu Chin, 24, who works in healthcare, started queueing at 9.40am for the exclusive bag and got it.
"I thought I wouldn't get the bag, but I did; I'm quite happy about that," she says. "I think the store is worth queueing up to get into. It's a little different from other Uniqlo stores. The layout is quite intuitive - you roughly know where to find things."
She adds that she bought three pairs of jogger pants for her boyfriend, spending $119 in total. "I would come back again."
Mr Daryl Wang, 32, a therapist, was not as lucky. He started queueing at 10am and did not get the bag. He ended up spending about $70 on a long-sleeved shirt, a polo T-shirt and a pair of shorts.
"I start work at 11am and thought I might as well come down and take a look because I heard there were exclusive collections. I work nearby," he says, adding that he waited for 10 minutes before he could enter the store.
Not all shoppers were there for the bags.
Ms Gladys Ng, 40, unemployed, who joined the queue at 9.40am, came for the ceramic painting workshop she signed up for a few weeks ago. The workshop, conducted by ceramic artist Ros Lee of Tokyo-based lifestyle brand Polkaros, was one of three craft workshops organised during the flagship store opening this weekend.
Ms Ng says: "This store reminded me of shopping at the Uniqlo store in Osaka, Japan. The interiors here are comparable to that store so I feel like I'm in Japan."
Brothers David and Nathaniel Choo, aged 24 and 18 respectively, were equally thrilled. They bought a flannel shirt each and spent $80 in total.
David says: "I've been to a few Uniqlo stores in Melbourne and other places, but this one is probably the coolest so far.
"I would definitely continue shopping here and I'm thinking of bringing my parents here to shop during the weekend. I think they would like it."
•The Uniqlo Global Flagship Store is located at Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, 01-01, open from 11am to 10pm daily, tel: 6835 -7297