Subtle, loving message to all my darling readers: Before you scroll down, please note that as this was a submission to a magazine, it's an incredibly long, full-length article. If you have fifteen minutes on your hands and are keen to read this from start to finish, I would advise a quick trip to the bathroom and a comfy seat before commencing, to ensure maximum enjoyment and minimal fuss.
I was wearing a dress from Zara, thrifted lace tights, Doc Martens and a Sisley handbag.
Photos by Max.
Decked out in a fresh white embroidered summer dress (whipped out especially for Diwali*, she says), embellished wedges and a skinny belt, Hazel Lam is absolutely radiant. She sparkles with natural beauty, and unlike some Singaporean women who swear by slashings of liquid liner, her makeup is tastefully applied and brings out her cute-as-a-button features. A soft-spoken sari collector, Hazel Lam is the proud owner of an artsy boutique in Singapore’s famous Haji Lane; “Green Poppies.” After studying in Korea for a few years, she fell in love with the “street style and the vibrant, unique culture”, and upon her return to Singapore, she decided to bring in stock from her favourite labels in Korea. Although Green Poppies imports most clothing from Korea, it does manufacture its own line of simple laptop cases that are always in high demand. Aside from shopping overseas, Hazel enjoys shopping at River Island and Zara, which she instantly names her favourites. She recalls with a wistful smile her youthful hopes of working in the performing arts industry, and I’m convinced that Hazel might just be the most lovely, adorable person ever. Green Poppies celebrates its 4th year as an online store and it’s first year as a boutique next year, and it is clear that the brand is definitely on its way to even greener pastures.
*Diwali = an Indian Festival/Holiday which is also a public holiday in Singapore
.She eagerly shows me to the second floor after we both chatted for a while and downed our drinks, where she unveils her newest collection. Pleated maxi skirts, floaty chiffon tops and intricate summer dresses are everywhere, and a sombre rack of black and white seperates is also part of the mix. A stunning array of wooden-handle clutches and various other art-deco style bags are on display, and at my feet are a magnificent line of mock-suede moccasins in rich tones (think Topshop-style shoes, a few notches down). Hazel shows me the new collection of heels as well, in particular a smouldering platform shoe with an electric red sole, and she insists they’re as comfortable as anything. “They have a platform that’s underneath the ball of your foot, so they’re a lot more comfortable than normal heels,” she says.
She pulls out a sleek black dress, cinched at the waist, pleated at the skirt and wonderfully voluptuous at the sleeves and instantly names it one of her favourites. As she roams the color coded shelves for more of the best of her newest collection, I can’t help but notice something that lured me to the store in the first place; the unflinching variety it promised. In all honesty, while I was roaming the racks of beautiful clothing, I couldn’t think of anything Hazel had missed. She had ticked all the boxes with her handpicked seperates, from girly to edgy to metallic to eveningwear. From sleek pencil skirts to dreamy ruffled pieces, the cozy, woody attic of her store was a delight to both my visual palate and my fingertips. I wondered how anyone could compress such a vast range of styles into such a compact place, but clearly Hazel could do it, and with an effortless grace, too.
She says that she doesn’t take inspiration from trends, as she says personal style is a lot more important. She chooses her collections based on her own eye, and she always likes to have a little bit of everything in the store so she can please a wide range of people. This is obviously essential to a country like Singapore, which has an extremely limited fashion industry. If there’s one thing that anyone can notice about our country, it’s the humiliating lack of effort people put into dressing themselves well. Trends are entirely irrelevant to one’s style, and that’s only if they HAVE style. The vast majority of people you see in central Singapore dress according to one style rule: If it’s hot outside, wear flip flops. That’s all you ever really see here, sadly. T-shirts, shorts and flip flops.
But Hazel is determined to change that. Her greatest pet peeve? “Local girls who dress well ruin it by wearing flip flops. They’re convenient and comfortable, but they just don’t look good!” she laughs. “At least wear sandals or wedges or something!”
What I love about this store is how much pride the owner takes in it. While corporate billionaires are leafing through their millions, galaxies away from the heart and soul of their brand, Hazel is buried right in the centre of it, taking charge of every decision, both big and small (she’s only got 4 staff members who are all part-timers, making this a one-woman mission). With the tireless effort she puts into maintaining the store, it’s safe to say that Green Poppies really is her little baby. She takes pride in not the store’s achievements and finances, but the happiness it brings her as a person and as an owner. Green Poppies isn’t only there to put money in her pocket, it’s to feed her passion. And as a fashionista, who could ask for more?If you actually got to the bottom of this and read every single word in between; respect, bro.