ION Orchard has become the "centre of gravity" in the retail scene, with spectacular frontage and cutting edge designs and concepts. It brings together the world’s best loved brands for their flagship, concept and lifestyle stores within one development, with over eight levels of intelligently designed shopping space – four levels above ground and four levels below – totalling 66,000 square metres of retail space at the prime site of Singapore’s commercial and shopping artery.
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Great Mall With Something For Everyone
ION Orchard is a good mix of expensive and affordable. The first time I stepped into ION, I was befuddled at all the branded name stores and was out of the mall in 10 minutes.
However, venture further down into the depths of ION and you’d realize that there’s much more to it. Besides expensive brands like Gucci and Prada, it also houses more affordable high-street brands such as Forever 21, H&M and a plethora of other fashionable labels.
ION Orchard is not just limited to shopping. If you’ve spent all your moolah and don’t know what else to do with your time there, head up to ION Sky. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of Singapore from ION’s 56th level for free! A very good deal considering you don’t have to pay a single cent unlike when when you go up the Empire State Building or Taipei 101.
Expensive, and difficult navigation
The first impression I have of this shopping mall is that it is quite difficult to find your way around here. The stores are randomly arranged, so to say. There are quite a few boutiques in here and other high end merchandise. Also, in the basement there is a store known as Jones The Grocer, but it sells very expensive food.
Other than the usual expensive restaurants, there is a food court, where I enjoyed the food a lot. Altogether, ION is a little too out of hand for me, budget wise, and I would not go there again. I feel that the other shopping centres in the vicinity, Ngee Ann City and Paragon, for example are better.
Where do we turn?
The first thing abut shopping centres that should be considered is: how easy are they to navigate. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being easiest), I'd give ION a 3. It is a good thing that they have concierge services at various locations near where the bones of shoppers who couldn't find the exits lie.
The second thing is: is there any destination shop there that sets the place apart from the thousands of other ins Singapore? That depends on your age. I see it as a haunt for those who can't even spell wheel chair accessible. That makes it what I read as "fun and vibrant", and I had to cross check to make sure that it wasn't one of those shops...
I did try Jones the grocer but after buying one Merc I din't need to spend a similar amount on my smallgoods.
Others rave about the facade, and it is, well, different. It looks like a cross between the collapsed roof of the Esplanade Theatre (the smaller one) and the Helix Bridge.
Aha! That is it! There is the key to its labyrinthian complexity: it is funky, futuristic and, sadly, fiddly. It may well have won an award as Singapore's best shopping centre a couple of years ago. Does it deserve it?
Where is my wheelchair?
Classy but costly.
ION looks like just any shopping mall along the busy Orchard Road, but one reason I like going there is because of its location - connected directly to the MRT station! However, there are a little too many high-class shops there, like Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc. It is nothing surprising to see these shops in Orchard, but they will certainly not appeal to shoppers on a tight budget.
I find the layout of the mall quite confusing. Despite the mall directory conveniently located outside the lifts, it is usually hard for me to find the shops I want to visit. The shops seem to be randomly scattered, making it a challenge for shoppers to find a particular shop.
Despite the costly shops, there are also shops that provide more affordable apparel, such as H&M, Charles & Keith and Uniqlo. Overall, ION isn't a particularly interesting place to shop, so I would recommend you to visit other malls if possible.
Know Your Level
Ion is the first shopping centre to interest me from the way that their shops are located. The higher you go, the pricier it gets. No wonder and my friend and I never purchased anything from any shop beyond level one. But nonetheless I really like the feel of this shopping centre, not only because it has many of my favourite fashion retails, but also because it being the centre of Orchard, it makes it easy to get to anywhere in Orchard.
However I have gotten lost in Ion several times and ended up in Wheelock before I know it. Maybe it is the way that the building is structured, and the lack of directories around. The building is really messy and everywhere feels the same to me. It is also difficult to locate the toilets, and I usually have to walk back to the MRT station before I could locate one.
Ambience à la Pricey
What more could we possibly expect from a shopping mall that brings in market giants?
Adorned in fancy luxury boutiques like Prada, Chanel, Officine Panerai, Oroton and much more, ION Orchard has this specific ambience which carries you all the way to a trip of window-shopping from Level 1 and above.
Basement 1 and below definitely has a bigger variety of shops (and the attracted crowds are different too) considering that there are mid-high end brands littered all around; ie BCBGMAXAZRIA, Massimo Dutti, Thomas Sabo and ZARA. On Basement 4 would be all the dining places where you'll find a wide range of food available ranging from simple desserts to expensive (still not as expensive as the higher floors) Japanese food. If you're not too worried about the price, I would love to recommend trying out Ginza Bairin if you enjoy Japanese rice dishes -- especially their specialty Kurobuta Tonkatsu (Fried Black Pork Loin Rice-dish).
I really enjoy each trip there because it's ] just a shopping haven for me (not that pleasant for my purse, yes, but there are reasons to ignore that) especially with cosmetic giants Bobby Brown, MAC, and Sephora all available there.
Ladies, you know where to go.
(Not that you'll be disappointed overall if you're a shopper for a man ;) )
model of mass marketing
ION is very attractive even from afar, with flashing lights built on the exterior of the mall. Its' interior is no doubt similar with bright white lights shone on the wide walkways and shops. Its' a perfect ambience to shop, but oddly, I rarely end up purchasing anything there. Or maybe because I don't usually find anything special there. But then again, it does cater to many of my friends who end up spending buckets of money all in one mall. Now mass marketing has both pros and cons.
Categorizing the shops according to consumers' taste is a wonderful idea. ION is one of the few malls being able to wittily play around with the location of shops due to the huge property it owns. Besides categorizing the shops according to the types of products it sells e.g. female office wear, sports wear, jeans etc and brands of similar price range together, the mall is tactfully built to separate the youth, working adults and affluent adults. The youth brands like Puma, Uniqlo, River Island are grouped close by. Middle-ranged office brands are conveniently located on a single stretch of shops. Finally, the high-end brands are located at the other end of the mall, only accessible by a single escalator. When I first stepped into that area I thought I was in another mall, (since most malls in town are linked) top-notch brands like Gucci, Mont Blanc are all present. This part of ION was unlike the densely crowded shops near the entrances, there was barely much people and if there were they'd proudly stride past with international labels on every single product they carry.
I thought this was a brilliant idea because the affluent doesn't want to be associated with those of a lower-range and those with a tighter budget wouldn't want to salivate at brands which would burn up all their savings, way too tempting. Since the mall is pretty big, separating them will allow easy access to the types of products they wish to purchase and that is within their budget instead of aimlessly walking around.
ION Orchard isn't really meant only for the rich, though the higher up you go, the "higher-end" it becomes. It's a shopper's paradise at the upper levels, where most of the big, expensive brands are and where there are also some big, fancy restaurants. But at the lower levels, there's Topshop/Topman, Uniqlo, and the like for the less than wealthy shopper. As far as food goes, there are plenty of small, affordable eateries and a well-frequented food court at the basement. Some of my favourite haunts include Awfully Chocolate, Share Tea, and Gindaco (for their superb takoyaki).
But, that said, ION gets boring too easily and I would rather visit the older Takashimaya and Wisma Atria than this supposedly new attraction in Orchard. Why? Because it tends to get too crowded, and you'll find there's not much to look at (or buy) after a few visits. Unless you're rich and constantly after the big brands, you won't have much reason to keep coming back.
I actually wanted to put ION under attractions and parks because I mostly just walk around here and never buy anything. But that does not apply to all parts of ION becuase they still have the affordable brands like forever 21, Mango etc.
Moreover, this shopping centre is really the centre of shopping needs. This building has shops ranging for teens to tai-tais. It is like a collection of high end and popular brands of clothes bag make up and even tea! However, this shop is not very stomach friendly. They do not provide a wide range of food selection.
Always ending up here despite never buying anything...
In all honesty, I am beginning to grow bored of ION because in December, I visited this mall a couple of times due to work. My every visit to ION consists of walking aimlessly around the mall, walking into some clothing stores (such as the recently opened H&M), passing by the Food Hall, and leaving the mall without having purchased a single thing. I'm dead serious! First of all, ION is far too atas for people with budgets to shop. There's a supermarket at ION called Jason's Marketplace, and everything there appears to be overpriced. Better off visiting Cold Storage, in which there are Singaporeans complaining that it's pricey in comparison to Fairprice, haha... Probably most of the people making purchases at this mall are really loaded with cash in their bank accounts (or wallets perhaps?) or foreigners who are willing to let their cash loose in Singapore.
Having said all that, I will almost always visit ION whenever I am at Orchard, and I have no idea why, but I guess it's just because ION is a great place to kill time to me. I do wonder when I'll start spending money here though; probably when I enter the work force, or probably almost never, heh. It's near Orchard MRT too, and if I were to wait for a friend within Orchard and had to choose between Wisma Atria and ION, it'd be ION hands down.