American lingerie brand Victoria's Secret opened its first South-east Asian flagship store - a head-turning pink glass confection - at Mandarin Gallery yesterday at noon.
First in the queue of about 100 shoppers were mother-and-daughter duo Mandy Lo, an office administrator in her 40s, and Hazel Goh, 19, a student.
While they had been waiting for only 30 minutes, the arrival of the flagship was a long time coming for Ms Goh, a loyal customer since she was 13. She had been ordering the label's lingerie, fragrances and accessories online for several years.
She and her mother bought $500 worth of underwear, bras and a windbreaker, amid thumping music, flashing video screens, oversized chandeliers and elaborate table displays of lingerie-clad mannequins.
She says the store met most of her expectations. "It's pretty awesome. I was expecting everything, but I couldn't find certain designs of bras and underwear that I wanted, but the Pink range here is better than online."
The Victoria's Secret Pink range is a line of underwear, clothes and accessories targeted at women in their late teens and early 20s.
Another excited shopper was Australian tourist Jane Fitzgerild, 46. The chef had walked past Mandarin Gallery on Thursday and noticed the store.
She returned yesterday with her husband to buy bras. She says: "I've never been to any of the brand's flagships. I'm a big fan and I like its quality and assortment of products."
Opening the 12,000 sq ft duplex store in Orchard Road, amid a weak retail market, may seem like a risk, but Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim thinks this is a savvy move by retail group Valiram, which distributes the brand here.
Ms Lim says: "Victoria's Secret is differentiated from other lingerie brands such as La Senza and Triumph because of its glamorous image. For consumers, it is a good move because, now, they can shop from the brand's full range. The store also adds excitement to the retail scene."
Singapore is the first Asian territory, apart from the Middle East, to have the full assortment.
The brand was founded in 1977 by the late Roy Raymond after he felt embarrassed purchasing lingerie for his wife in a department store.
In 1982, Victoria's Secret was acquired by American fashion retailer L Brands, which made US$12.7 billion (S$18.11 billion) in sales last year, up from US$11.5 billion the previous year.
There are more than 1,600 Victoria's Secret stores worldwide.
The brand is most famous for its high-octane annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which started in 1995 and features supermodels such as Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio and also top performers, including American pop stars Taylor Swift and Rihanna.
Similar to the stores in the United States, the Singapore flagship sells the full assortment, including the Victoria Sport and Victoria's Secret Pink lines. This is a fuller spectrum than the fragrances, accessories and women's underwear now offered at the brand's seven stores in Singapore, including outlets at 313@Somerset and Wisma Atria.
Prices range from $19 for a lipgloss to about $800 for a silk robe from the Victoria's Secret Designer collection. New designs will be available every two to six weeks.
At the flagship, there are 12 bra specialists, who advise customers on the product lines and styles, and know how to do bra measurements.
In each of the 24 luxurious fitting rooms is a call button, should shoppers need help from a specialist.
Ms Ema Negara, assistant vice- president of Victoria's Secret store operations in Singapore, says having specialists who can empathise with customers is important.
According to her, about 90 per cent of women take bras in the wrong size to the fitting room and some walk out upset.
She says: "Our motto is to make women feel sexy, sophisticated and forever young."
•The Victoria's Secret flagship is at 01-01 Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road, tel: 6723-8077; open: 10am to 10pm daily.