Bold, Bright, Asian: Bangkok with Christine Karan

Bangkok, the city of angels; an early, cool Feb morning. As I sat at the balcony of my hotel room on the 30th floor, overlooking the Chao Praya River, I was browsing over the list of things I had to see, explore and do while in Bangkok. Though I have been to the city many times and know where most of my-kind of places are, Bangkok is a place that changes constantly and every time it is a new experience.

When it comes to fashion and beauty, who said Milan or Paris are shoppers’ delights? Bangkok is no slouch when it comes to shopping. From chic boutiques to street kitsch, the city is littered with shopping malls – big and small- vying with each other to cater to every taste and purse, not to mention the popular flea markets and the night bazaars. Indeed Bangkok has gained a prominent spot on the map as a major fashion hub of Asia in recent times.

Asian Fashion; what’s so different about it? Well everything is! It’s bold, flashy, edgy, chic, and it’s just fashionably confusing. While Thailand’s own innovative designers such as Fly Now, Senada Theory and Kloset Red Carpet have earned a name for themselves and other Thai designers like Thakoon Panichgul winning Vogue Fashion Fund, Bangkok has got a shot in the arm on both high fashion as well as high street fashion of late.

Also, with the rise of K-pop or Korean music in the past few years and GangnamStyle being an essential party song all over the world, the world has turned its attention not only to the Asian music, but also to the quirky Asian fashion as well. Designs from Jeremy Scott dressing Korean bands and comments from Karl Lagerfeld on Asian designers have taken Asian fashion to greater heights. This has also opened doors for many Asian designers to showcase their designs at various fashion weeks, introducing the world to an eccentric art.

Unless you are a label fanatic or brand conscious, then the malls are the best places for you.  Every tourist brochure in Bangkok feature shopping malls like Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Terminal 21, Central World any many others and tout that those are your ‘to-go’ places for fashion shopping. I tend to disagree with them.

If you want to experience Asian fashion trends first-hand, then hit the streets- and that’s what I did. Not long ago, I discovered a couple of hidden gems; Siam Square and Lido Theatre; right opposite the Siam malls and the area that constitutes as “downtown” Bangkok.

Siam Square is not your regular shopping street. It is one of the largest shopping areas with crisscrossing alleys lined up with tiny fashion shops, entertainment spots, tattoo parlous, home décor outlets and beauty stores.  If you want to buy something that’s very Asian and Instagram worthy, explore store to store, rummage through stakes of knickknacks, bric-a-bracsor curios and I am sure you will find many that describe you- in the Asian way.

Another hidden gem is Lido Theatre complex, which was once a cinema theater and now converted into a shopping arcade. Located right beside Siam Square, Lido Theater houses many tiny shops all kinds – clothes, shoes, accessories, some of them showcasing surprisingly unique designs and patterns. These shops may not look glamorous or flashy from the outside, but they stock some of the most innovative, edgy, modern fashion ensemble you could ask for.

The next time when you visit Bangkok, its not a bad idea to ditch those sprawling, popular malls and hit the streets. I bet you will find a treasure and… your wallets will not cry!