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'Pivotal to early street culture': Steve Dadlani, owner of iconic La Vanita store, dies at 78

He ran the rock music and football merch store out of Peninsula Shopping Centre for 50 years until his death on Jul 13.

'Pivotal to early street culture': Steve Dadlani, owner of iconic La Vanita store, dies at 78

An old photograph of Steve Dadlani. (Photo: Facebook/La Vanita)

If you were a hardcore rock music or football fan growing up, there’s a good chance you walked through the storied doors of his storefront on the second floor of Peninsula Shopping Centre. 

Steve Dadlani, the owner of merchandise store La Vanita, died on Jul 13 at the age of 78. 

Since opening its doors in 1972, Dadlani – born Shewak Metharam Dadlani – was a familiar face at the store, greeting customers up till his death. The store, named after his eldest daughter Vanita, was a haven for rock music merchandise when it first started.  

In the 2000s, it eventually pivoted to selling football collectables including team jerseys and scarves, but Dadlani’s warm demeanour stayed the same, welcoming customers.  

According to an interview with Money Talks on Asia Business News in 2002, La Vanita was one of the first few football merchandise stores in Singapore, joining an at-the-time recent but burgeoning wave of popularity across Asia.

In a video from 2021 with streetwear label 77th Street’s founder Elim Chew, he can be heard saying: “Please come, without anything. Just walk and drink tea and go... God bless you all.” 

Chew shared a Facebook post on Jul 15, adding: “Thank you Steve for your support and guidance when we first started 77th Street. We will truly miss you. 

“Thank you for all the Awesome merchandise you brought to a generation of (youngsters). We grew up with your brand. We salute you, Steve. Thank you.”

Suhaimi Subandie, the 58-year-old member of the punk band Stompin’ Ground, shared with Bandwagon that La Vanita was “pivotal to early street culture” in Singapore. He added: “The earliest memory (of La Vanita) I have is getting patches and cool band shirts.” 

“The best thing about the store was that they treated all customers the same. We felt accepted going there, no matter how rowdy we looked.”

There was an outpouring of condolences to Dadlani's family on social media, along with former customers reminiscing about their interactions with him. He is survived by his wife, three children and seven grandchildren.

The obituary for Steve Dadlani. (Photo: Facebook/Norman Jalal)
Source: CNA/mm