It is a love-hate relationship with fabric shopping at Arab Street. Love because I particularly enjoy the vibe here and drooling over all the beautiful laces. Hate because the prices here are a little higher and the selection changes all the time so you really wouldn’t know what to expect for each visit. Nonetheless it is still a lovely place to visit. Some of my favourite hidden finds, places to eat and shopping are located here. Arab Street is located within Kampong Glam. It is an area of rich history and culture, which can be traced back to pre-colonialisation times in Singapore. If you are visiting from other countries and planning to immerse in some Malay-Middle Eastern culture, Kampong Glam is the perfect place to go!
I don’t usually buy fabrics from Arab Street unless I am looking for something specific that Arab Street has. I come here for French Dior/german sidoll, batik, ribbon supplies, or just to try my luck because I can’t find what I want every where else.
How to get there
The nearest MRT stations are Bugis on the East-West Line/Downtown Line and Nicoll Highway on the Circle Line. You will need to walk for about 5minutes to get to Kampong Glam which is where Arab Steeet is. I usually get to Arab St via the Bugis side. If you do, when you see the Sultan Mosque, you know you are at the right place.
If you are looking for lace for evening or bridal gown, you can try Arab Street, which is a street of fabric shops. I did for mine but found nothing: either too expensive or not what I want. I find the laces, especially the nice ones, particularly expensive. Most of the time you also need to purchase the entire roll of lace (about 5-6 yards). There are some selections which you can purchase by the yard/meter too. I don’t have any recommendation because different shops carry different laces at different prices. There are also so many different designs for lace. What my friend and I did when we were shopping for her bridal gown, was to comb almost every single shop and see what they have to offer, shortlist a couple that we fancy before returning to finally purchase the lace that she likes and fit her budget. These shops carry different laces all the time as most of their customers buy in high yardages. If you fancy something that fits your budget, it is best that you get it immediately.
One of the main reason I make a trip down to Arab Street is for the French Dior/German Sidoll. It is a fabric that feels very much satin (silky soft) without the shine (looks like duchess), and much lighter than duchess. It falls and drapes very well. It can be used as lining or the main fabric. It doesn’t leave behind water marks like satin does: bonus point!
I used to purchase my French Dior from Molkan because I know one of their sales lady very well. She gives me good discount, is spot on with colours and provides very good recommendations. However she has left to further her studies and the shopping experience is not the same any more. Nonetheless, they have a wider range of colours compared to other shops.
Then I found out that some of the other shops also sell the same fabric but is known as German Sidoll. One of it the shops is called ‘Princess’, which is under the same boss as ‘Warma, ‘Aladdin’s, and ‘Angel, all located along Arab Street. They are well stocked with laces, satins, some printed cotton, mostly catering to the Malay community.
There is this other shop, own and run by a Chinese. It has a little bit of everything: cotton, faux leather, lace, chiffon, satin etc. I usually purchase cotton lining or chiffon from them because they are well stocked with a wide variety of colours.
#4 Bian Swee Hin and Co
107 Arab Street
If you are looking for Batik, this is where you should go. The batik ranges from $50-hundreds, depending whether the prints are machine printed, hand stamped or hand printed. The more intricate the workmanship the more expensive each piece is. They also sell the embroidered fabric for the kebaya blouse. The shop is a little dark and small, but take your time to look around. You might find something you like.
#5 Kin Soon – House of Ribbons (Minton Ribbons)
36 Arab Street
Further down Arab Street, nearer the end towards Nicoll Highway, there is a shop selling tons of ribbons of various colours, designs and sizes. I purchased ribbons for my wedding here. They also sell some laces and materials for hair accessories and such for bridal use. You will definitely find something you want here.
Opening hours of the shops vary, but they generally opens around late morning/noon and closes at around 6pm-7pm. A point to note, you are highly encouraged to visit the washroom at the MRT stations or the mall before making your way to Arab Street and Kampong Glam area because washroom is really scarce.