3 Love It
Save it

Best shops in KL

We handpick the best local and independent stores the streets and malls have to offer. Get your wallets ready

Photo: Stacy Liu

Everyone says KL is a shopper's paradise, but not many people look beyond the big brands and international chains. We’ve handpicked the best local and independent stores the streets and malls have to offer. Get your wallets ready.

Best shops for fashion

I Love Snackfood

I Love Snackfood specialises in fashion, home decor and general curiosities. They also stock a small quantity of Kinfolk, Smith Journal and Uppercase magazines.

Read more
Bangsar

ALLIEN

Stylist and designer Allien Gan has taken over a small corner of Publika, and with great results. His edit of streetwear and accessories, designed by himself and other regional designers, is cool but not intimidatingly so – there’s a line of simple, sharp leather bags, alphabet totes, slouchy T-shirts and slinky tops. If you’re looking for a slightly funkier outfit for a night out, that can be arranged too – Allien’s recent collection that showed at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week is available in store, and it involves, among other things, leather harnesses. For a more casual purchase, cheeky socks by Medium Rare also make an appearance.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

Chalk

If your grandmother failed to bequeath you with adequate dresses, head over to Chalk. Ok, we’re not going to lie, Chalk has only a range of pre-loved reworked items, vintage bags and accessories, but the selection is large enough for a leisurely afternoon of browsing.

Read more
Bukit Bintang
Advertising

KL Venue

Independent retailers do not simply sell fashion apparel and accessories; they sell lifestyles as well. Combining its raw and rustic interiors with a mix of street wear and surfing labels, Venue feels warm and laidback. Here’s a breakdown of what you can get from the store: clothing, backpacks and luggage, headgear, swimwear, skateboards and accessories.

Read more
Bangsar

M Pavilion

M Store is one of KL’s most exciting multi-brand boutiques. There is a fair amount of auntie-wear on the racks, but mixed among Elizabeth & James, Clover Canyon, Emma Cook and, perhaps most excitingly, Jonathan Liang. You’ll also find an excellent edit of accessories in store, from stackable Vita Fede bangles to Philippe Audibert gems, plus Schutz and Sam Edelman shoes. If the prices are a little too steep for you, head to the MO Outlet, which sells past season stock at very good prices.

Read more
Bukit Bintang

Major Drop

The guys from Pestle & Mortar launched this multi-label retail chain in June, stocking up on international brands that focus on street wear, fashion and lifestyle. Major Drop has all your daily sartorial needs: caps, T-shirts, pants, shoes, wallets, sunglasses and more. They want to provide a space where people have access to international brands that aren’t available in KL, according to Hugh Koh, the creative director and co-founder of Pestle & Mortar.

Read more
Sunway
Advertising

Nusantara Denims

This denim specialist in SS15 looks like a grown up streetwear store, with a downtown kind of cool. Minimal and uncluttered, Nusantara pride themselves on being Southeast Asia’s denim hub. From Doku Jeans and Fifth Requisite from Thailand, Oldblue from Indonesia to local brand Tarik Jeans, the selection is well-curated – for both men and women.

Read more
Subang

Pattern Store

SS15 is slowly becoming the new Bangsar, thanks in no small part to shops like Pattern Store. It’s hard to pin down their exact focus, but they have a great selection of clothing from local labels like The Deciders and Obliq, as well as the obligatory display of Supreme snapbacks. The now-defunct Thimble supplies Voluspa candles to Pattern Store, and you’ll also find stationery, specialist magazines and even vintage Polaroid cameras.

Read more
Subang

Shoes Shoes Shoes

Seven years on and Shoes Shoes Shoes is still one of the best local shoe brands around. Owner Ung Yiu Lin is big news now – her shoes are worn by all the local celebrities and civilians, and her bag line KLutched is carried (literally and in stores) in Paris. (Plus she’s married to sports star heartthrob Azlan Iskandar.) Shoes Shoes Shoes now has outposts in BSC and Great Eastern Mall, but the best is still the original Telawi store.

Read more
Bangsar
Advertising

Sole What

Sole What is one of very few sneaker specialist stores in Malaysia. With two stores across the town, you can find anything from Onitsuka Tiger, Vans, Feiyue to the only recently available Dr.Martens. Nearly everything here is limited edition, and they also bring in selected accessories, like bracelets, watches, caps and bags. Stock is limited and the staff can be a pain, but it’s worth it for sneakers no one else has.

Read more
Mid Valley City
MORE FASHION SHOPS

Best for home, living and entertainment

Acquire

With a penchant for novelty design, technology, fashion and travel items, this minimalist all-white lifestyle shop is home to Project Watches (designed by renowned architexts), Nannini Eyewear and other emerging brands. In addition to Addex’s retro-chic Dolce radio and Skooba laptop satchels, Acquire also specialises in quirky home and living products from Belgium’s Serax, Innit Design from Canada and America’s ForLife Design, including dinnerware, furniture and vases.

Read more
Bangsar

Basheer Graphic Books

With similarly well-stocked branches in neighbouring countries, this hidden gem of a bookstore dabbles in specialised books and magazines related to art, graphic design, animation, interior design, architecture, fashion and photography. The sheer amount of both old and up-to-date reading material in this cramped space can sometimes prove overwhelming. However, that inconvenience hasn’t deterred artists and designers from spending hours sifting through titles like ‘Instant: The Story of Polaroid’.

Read more
KL City Centre

Book Xcess

Book-lovers and bargain-hunters are all familiar with Book Xcess, the bookstore that undercuts all the major chains and brings forth hordes of readers every year with its Big Bad Wolf sale. It’s not the prettiest store, and stock can be unpredictable, but you’ll find fiction, hardbacks, reference works, children’s books and even games for at least 50 percent off (and sometimes up to 90 percent).

Read more
Taman Jaya
Advertising

Chop Sang Kee

You can do up an entire Zen-looking home with just rattan furniture from this 85-year-old shop. Chop Sang Kee has existed since KL’s pre-war days where craftshops and clog makers abound, but don’t let this decrepit shop put you off. Look close enough and you’ll sniff great items out. Everything in the shop – trays, baskets and even bird cages – is woven from scratch. You won’t find mod pieces here but the owner cares for your spine – the beautiful rattan chairs, with their old-school design, sturdy frame and comfy backrest, will give you a better sitting posture for as long as they last.

Read more
Masjid Jamek

Jaben

This regional headphone retail store is the go-to destination for audiophiles on the prowl for professional earphones, custom in-ear monitors, headphone amplifiers and sound tuning cables. A who’s who in the headphone fraternity, ranging from usual suspects Audio-Technica, Shure and Grado to less established names like Hippo, Final Audio Design and Vision Ears, is available at this cosy outlet. Jaben also provides detailed consultation and demos for prospective buyers.

Read more
Subang

Joe's MAC

The man behind the name, Joe Rozario, is just as famous as his extensive vinyl store located in the basement of Amcorp Mall. What used to be a humble (but popular) stall in the mall’s weekend flea markets is now a bona fide shop of its own. Vinyl devotees flock there to peruse a mix of classic and contemporary vinyl, starting from a very reasonable RM5. Joe’s Mac also carries a selection of musical equipment, posters and antique paraphernalia, but the real draw is the music.

Read more
Taman Jaya
Advertising

Kwong Yik Seng

There’s no shortage of olde Chinese charm in this crockery shop stocked with flower-crested porcelain, oriental ceramics and Yuan dynasty-inspired plates. Buddha statues sit regally on top of the cabinets while the rear of the shop is packed with decorative chinaware that recalls family hand-me-downs. Every (fragile) item is placed cheek by jowl, and some along narrow walkways, but the shopowner of this 69-year-old institution on Jalan Tun HS Lee never forgets where he puts everything.

Read more
Masjid Jamek

Lifeshop Atelier

New homeowners unexcited about the prospect of another outing to IKEA should check out Lifeshop Atelier at neighbouring Kota Damansara. Expect to spot a variety of carefully curated novelty furniture and décor, ranging from antique art pieces to chic vintage French round chairs. Even festive pastries during the holiday seasons and fashion pieces like ethnic jewellery make cameos at this home and living outlet. Not one to rest on its laurels, the team behind Lifeshop Atelier has also opened a swanky looking flagship store in Ipoh.

Read more
Kota Damansara

Peter Hoe Beyond

Profiled by the New York Times, listed in many a guidebook – Peter Hoe Beyond is something of an institution. It occupies a whole floor of the Lee Rubber Building, and stocks an abundance of products from all over Asia that Peter himself has either designed or commissioned. You’ll find hand-dyed tablecloths, embroidered cushions, delicate silverware, and plenty of souvenir-worthy items to write home about.

Read more
Petaling Street
Advertising

Recro

Recro gives new life to furniture – they recreate, restore and revive carefully curated, one-of-a-kind vintage items. In a previous life, Recro was Second Charm, which began as a thrift store with trade-in pieces before custom orders, production and personalised services began taking off. Today, Recro is run by Aisha Shaharuddin; her Singaporean mother founded Second Charm and now manages the outlet in Singapore. Here, one will find Danish designs and ’60s-inspired mid-century retro furniture as well as a series of chic, industrial work and home accents such as grills and lamps. The pieces are handcrafted, limited and unique; form and functionality meet in colour, details and materials that are locally- and regionally-sourced and -made. Teak is the theme of the day; most of the furniture feature exquisite, hard-to-find Indonesian teak wood, along with brass caps, handcrafted handles and pencil legs. The aesthetic, too, screams attention to detail, clean lines and fine techniques.

Read more
TTDI
MORE HOME, LIVING & ENTERTAINMENT

Best specialty shops

Bang Bang Geng

Bang Bang Geng is not a camera shop. Owner Chin Koon Yik enshrines his impressive camera collection (there’s a Kodak Autograph 3A made in 1914) on shelves and none are for sale. The dozens of analogue cameras attest to his cultish hobby of collecting anything photographic, from magazines, films and accessories to books. Chin’s aim is to share his film photography knowledge so the shop’s main product is his expertise. He provides lessons on shooting with a 35mm as well as a photolab service for film processing. The shop is named after the 2010 movie about four war photographers called ‘The Bang Bang Club’ and this sentiment is translated into this quirky mecca that pays homage to the dying art of analog photography.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

Carousel

Christmas comes early for young’uns and the young at heart during visits to Carousel, a vintage London-style toy store with giant window displays and a couple of life-sized Nutcracker figurines at the entrance. The welcome appearance of model airplanes, jack-in-a-box, rocking horses and toy soldiers, among other playthings from a bygone era, elevates this vibrant red-and-white shop beyond the ubiquitous toy chains in town. A candy cart featuring local favourite Fête Artisan Marshmallow’s gourmet treats is also an enticing prospect for toy-loving sweet tooths.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

CzipLee

CzipLee is a place you walk in with the intention of buying just a pen but end up with ten. This stationery emporium is lauded for its array of writing materials, papers, impressive art supply and a covetable range of Moleskines. Within the shop, there’s also CzipLee Plus – the upper crust of bespoke writing instruments that boasts vocabulary like ergonomic grip (Lamy), hexagonal barrel (Faber Castell) and palladium plate (Sheaffer). CzipLee also does laser engraving and notebook embossing, which make perfect gifts.

Read more
Bangsar
Advertising

Kaleidoscope

One of the prettiest shops on the block, Kaleidoscope is true to its name, at least in that it features a dizzying array of different items. The bulk of their stock is homeware, but they also carry a huge variety of stationery and jewellery, with racks of clothes on the side, a long shelf of shoes and a whole load of ‘Keep Calm and...’ derivatives. It pays to take your time browsing here because Kaleidoscope is so densely packed that you’re likely to miss something if you zip through.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

Kien Fatt Medical Store

The many yok choi pou (Chinese medicine hall) on Petaling Street have been refurbished to keep up with the onslaught of modernised pharmacies like Eu Yan Sang. The 70-year old Kien Fatt remains the best medicine hall in that area as there are still sinseh (physicians) administering treatments in the backroom ’til today. Your health can be swiftly diagnosed through a pulse check and the sinseh will write you a prescription. He’ll then rummage through jars of cordyceps, wolfberries, dang gui and atroctylodes to whip up a health booster to replenish chi, combat colds or improve stamina. The tiny drawers behind the counter resemble private vaults, which store away precious tonics like century-old ginseng.

Read more
Petaling Street

KSH Cycles

Taman Tun’s KSH Bicycle is one of the older guard when it comes to KL bike shops. They mix a good variety of road and mountain bikes and mid-to high-end accessories, fronted by the perpetually cheerful manager Leong. It’s not hard to see why the shop traded in its pokey Jalan Tun Mohd Faud store front for a swanky new lot just down the road last year. And while KSH may have lost some of its small-shop charm in the move, the quality remains. Be warned though: with premium brands like Intense, BH, Norco and Santa Cruz, a trip to KSH is rarely cheap.

Read more
TTDI
Advertising

Lee Wah Florist

One of the oldest names in the business, Lee Wah has been plying the flower trade on Jalan Tun HS Lee for decades. The store itself is not glamorous – buckets and buckets of cut flowers line a cement floor, and service is efficient but not overly friendly. You can buy your flowers here wholesale or just a few stems, and half the joy of shopping is watching the many and varied customers popping in and out of the shop to grab what they need. It’s as unpretentious as it gets. Plus, when Chinese New Year rolls around, this is one of the best places to source supplies.

Read more
Petaling Street

Marq Optic Gallery

This spacious and brightly lit Japanese optical boutique, stocks a wide array of premium hard-to-find eyewear from Japan, the United States and Europe, including handcrafted acetate sunglasses and retro wooden spectacles with prices that go into the thousands. Super by RetroSuperFuture, Lumete, Kagero Design Works and Masunaga are just some of the highly rated brands on show at Marq Optic Gallery, which has also earned a reputation for its outstanding personalised service.

Read more
Mid Valley City

Mummy’s Party Shop

Once you’ve sorted out your party theme, it’s easier to coordinate everything from costume to décor. Mummy’s Party Shop is your one-stop party-planning hub – score a Disney princess dress (for your child, we hope), a pirate get-up or even full Harry Potter regalia. Navigate aisles of greeting cards, paper goods, napkins, favours and balloons for every occasion. Goods gear towards birthday, anniversary and kiddy celebrations so you may want to look elsewhere if you’re throwing a bridal shower. To skip the fuss, Mummy’s Party Shop also has an in-house planner to help customise your party.

Read more
Petaling Jaya
Advertising

Outdated

Though they specialise in vintage furniture and homeware, Outdated stocks a whole load of paraphernalia unrelated except that they’re all cool. Limited edition art prints lean against vintage cabinets, which are topped with typewriters, toys, models, stationery and miscellanea. Their proudest claim to fame is a clutch of refurbished vintage Eames chairs scattered throughout the store. Don’t worry if you don’t see anyone manning the till – they’re usually smoking on the balcony outside.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas
MORE SPECIALITY SHOPS

Best food and drink shops

Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia

Within the Academy of Pastry Arts are shelves of shiny baking equipment and ingredients to gratify the Pierre Hermé inside you. Imported Callebaut chocolate of 100 percent cocoa solids are a specialty here, and the stuff is sold in bars, coins or nibs. Even if prices are north of RM50, the staff are willing to explain the intricacies of each packet depending on what you plan to bake. Also run your fingers through rows of chocolate tempering machines, chocolate moulds and fondue sets.

Read more
Taman Jaya

Ales & Lagers

Recommended

For beers enthusiasts, this is the best bottle shop in town. For the uninitiated, this is a bottle shop in which to educate yourself. Run by the good fellas behind beerbeer.org, Ales & Lagers focuses solely on craft brews (none of your commercial beers here). Currently, they stock about 60 different types of craft brews in bottles and the variety is constantly expanding. What’s more, they also provide some barstools and tables so you can buy and drink on the spot. But the stock comes in small quantities, so if you find something you like, it’s best to grab a dozen to go.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

Ben's Independent Grocer

We’ve heard of people driving across the city to do their weekly shop in BIG, and we don’t blame them. It has everything you need in a supermarket: excellent stock, good organisation, well-lit and spaced aisles and a whole lot more. Like a florist. And an oyster bar. Also, one of the best coffee stops in KL, a dessert counter, a bakery round the back, a porky restaurant, a bargain bin and plenty of seasonal promotions to keep the customers happy. It’s the little touches that matter, like the medicine hall-style section for traditional Asian ingredients, the incredible selection of magazines, and the GStick ice cream stand just outside.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas
Advertising

Bottlez Houz

You want to party in Changkat, but drinks are expensive and you’re broke. Do you have RM20? Great, that’ll buy you six cans of beer at Bottlez Houz opposite Bakita – you can mix and match at RM10 for three cans, including Chang, Foster’s and Hollandia. Do you have five friends? Great, get everyone to fork out RM20, pool that cash and buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s priced at RM110 (cue gasp). A bottle of Bombay Sapphire will set you back only RM80 (that’s the price of a diluted ‘tall’ jar of Long Island at most bars and clubs in Changkat, by the way); Johnnie Walker sells at RM100; and a bottle of Chivas goes for RM149.

Read more
Bukit Bintang

La Vie En Rose

Did you know that La Vie En Rose has a shop too? Pick up unusual gourmet ingredients here, such as canned mackerel, truffle flavoured cream, kalamata olives and gherkins. Grab some grilled artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, beans and pastas, and you’ll have yourself an instant Mediterranean party. Going for a picnic? Fill your basket with homemade jams, sandwich spreads, fizzy juices. There’s also a shelf dedicated to premium kitchenware, chef utensils and sommelier tools. A part of the restaurant is sectioned off to accommodate aisles of organic pastas, condiments as well as preserved seafood such as Peruvian anchovy and mussels from Galicia.

Read more
KL City Centre

Shoprite Specialty Grocer

This tiny shop in Lucky Garden devotes itself to two seemingly disparate countries: the UK and the Philippines. Shoprite brings in imported goodies from these two nations, especially the kind of everyday groceries that expats get so passionate about. Think chocolate bars, cereal, sauces, toiletries and all kinds of packaged goods. On the Filipino side of things there is an ample range of cooking supplies and ingredients, as well as biscuits and sweets.

Read more
Bangsar
Advertising

Tommy le Baker

Tucked away at the back of the lesser known Viva Residency, Tommy Le Baker is a tiny bakery whose doors are always open and workers are always kneading. The shopfront is a little haphazard, with its stacks of loaves and handwritten menu, but take your time or ask for recommendations – the sourdough is our favourite. Apart from their artisanal breads (they’re puritans about the fermentation process), Tommy Le Baker also sells a range of desserts, sandwiches and coffees. Beware though – there are only a couple of tables so our advice is to savour the bread in the comfort of your own home.

Read more
Sentul

WW Wine Warehouse

Soft lights, brick walls and blonde wooden flooring – these terra-cotta touches add to the charm of this family-owned wine shop. Deemed the largest wine shop in Malaysia, WW Wine Warehouse has an extensive selection, with heavy representation by Australian, French, German, Spanish and South African producers. If you like a good bottle but are wary of prices, wines here are 10 to 15 percent cheaper than market price because the shop sources their wines directly from the wineries. Staff are always eager to help you choose from 400 kinds of wines in stock, but if you’re no oenophile, novices can partake in the daily free wine tastings before making their pick.

Read more
Puchong
MORE FOOD & DRINK SHOPS

Best shops in Publika

Ales & Lagers

Recommended

For beers enthusiasts, this is the best bottle shop in town. For the uninitiated, this is a bottle shop in which to educate yourself. Run by the good fellas behind beerbeer.org, Ales & Lagers focuses solely on craft brews (none of your commercial beers here). Currently, they stock about 60 different types of craft brews in bottles and the variety is constantly expanding. What’s more, they also provide some barstools and tables so you can buy and drink on the spot. But the stock comes in small quantities, so if you find something you like, it’s best to grab a dozen to go.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

ALLIEN

Stylist and designer Allien Gan has taken over a small corner of Publika, and with great results. His edit of streetwear and accessories, designed by himself and other regional designers, is cool but not intimidatingly so – there’s a line of simple, sharp leather bags, alphabet totes, slouchy T-shirts and slinky tops. If you’re looking for a slightly funkier outfit for a night out, that can be arranged too – Allien’s recent collection that showed at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week is available in store, and it involves, among other things, leather harnesses. For a more casual purchase, cheeky socks by Medium Rare also make an appearance.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

Bang Bang Geng

Bang Bang Geng is not a camera shop. Owner Chin Koon Yik enshrines his impressive camera collection (there’s a Kodak Autograph 3A made in 1914) on shelves and none are for sale. The dozens of analogue cameras attest to his cultish hobby of collecting anything photographic, from magazines, films and accessories to books. Chin’s aim is to share his film photography knowledge so the shop’s main product is his expertise. He provides lessons on shooting with a 35mm as well as a photolab service for film processing. The shop is named after the 2010 movie about four war photographers (two of whom were Pulitzer Prize-winners) called ‘The Bang Bang Club’ and this sentiment is translated into this quirky mecca that pays homage to the dying art of analog photography.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas
Advertising

Ben's Independent Grocer

We’ve heard of people driving across the city to do their weekly shop in BIG, and we don’t blame them. It has everything you need in a supermarket: excellent stock, good organisation, well-lit and spaced aisles and a whole lot more. Like a florist. And an oyster bar. Also, one of the best coffee stops in KL, a dessert counter, a bakery round the back, a porky restaurant, a bargain bin and plenty of seasonal promotions to keep the customers happy. It’s the little touches that matter, like the medicine hall-style section for traditional Asian ingredients, the incredible selection of magazines, and the GStick ice cream stand just outside.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

Carousel

Christmas comes early for young’uns and the young at heart during visits to Carousel, a vintage London-style toy store with giant window displays and a couple of life-sized Nutcracker figurines at the entrance. The welcome appearance of model airplanes, jack-in-a-box, rocking horses and toy soldiers, among other playthings from a bygone era, elevates this vibrant red-and-white shop beyond the ubiquitous toy chains in town. A candy cart featuring local favourite Fête Artisan Marshmallow’s gourmet treats is also an enticing prospect for toy-loving sweet tooths.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas

Kaleidoscope

One of the prettiest shops on the block, Kaleidoscope is true to its name, at least in that it features a dizzying array of different items. The bulk of their stock is homeware, but they also carry a huge variety of stationery and jewellery, with racks of clothes on the side, a long shelf of shoes and a whole load of ‘Keep Calm and...’ derivatives. It pays to take your time browsing here because Kaleidoscope is so densely packed that you’re likely to miss something if you zip through.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas
Advertising

Outdated

Though they specialise in vintage furniture and homeware, Outdated stocks a whole load of paraphernalia unrelated except that they’re all cool. Limited edition art prints lean against vintage cabinets, which are topped with typewriters, toys, models, stationery and miscellanea. Their proudest claim to fame is a clutch of refurbished vintage Eames chairs scattered throughout the store. Don’t worry if you don’t see anyone manning the till – they’re usually smoking on the balcony outside.

Read more
Solaris Dutamas
MORE SHOPS IN PUBLIKA

Comments

0 comments