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Cat Socrates
Photograph: Cat Socrates

7 cool indie stores in Singapore

Abandon the mainstream bandwagon and get on-board with these quirky indie boutiques

Cheryl Sekkappan
Written by
Michelle Ng
&
Cheryl Sekkappan
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Orchard Road may be touted as the iconic shopping belt in Singapore but there are heaps of cool independent stores where you can find local labels, vintage memorabilia and random knick-knacks. Here are seven hipper-than-thou shops to check out, along with one must-buy item from each to bring home.

RECOMMENDED: Vintage shopping in Singapore and The best thrift shops in Singapore

  • Shopping
  • Fashion
  • City Hall

Get freaky with the out-of-this-world paraphernalia at SUPER FREAK Boutique. The store's collection is a celebration of everything maximalist – there are face masks with elf ears, iridescent platform shoes with a Darth Vader figurine as the heel, retro-coloured windbreakers, cheeky pins and more weird and wonderful products. On top of the repertoire of cult brands and local designers, SUPER FREAK also has a corner for pre-loved clothes. 

Get this Avant-Kindergarden ($559). Made out of beige cotton twill and handprinted by Outsiders Division's creator David Mendéz Alonso, this quirky piece is easy to throw on on top of shirt and jeans to add tons of personality to your everyday look. 

  • Shopping
  • Marine Parade

It’s lifestyle needs galore at Cat Socrates. Like the original establishment at Bras Basah, its east side branch offers a cornucopia of unique home décor, books, trinkets, bicycle accessories, craft and paper paraphernalia. Discover lifestyle goods such as notebooks, bags, pillows and mugs whimsically fashioned by local designers. Bring home the likes of aesthetically pleasing wooden furnishings, magnets or tote bags with Peranakan tiles or cat prints. You’ll also find a range of books and magazines here, published by local writers and illustrators. Keep a look out for the resident cat shopkeeper Zoo-zoo – if he isn’t waiting to greet you by the door, he might be resting in his bed hanging by the window. 

 

Get this Cats of Cat Socrates coasters ($3.90). Do you really more coasters, you say? If it has cute regal-looking cat portraits, then the answer is an unequivocal yes. 

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  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Changi 

Armed with only $3,000 and a bedroom-turned-office, founder Dennis Tay started Naiise in 2013 with the simple goal of making good design more accessible to the public. While this lifestyle store has experienced some ups and downs, it has now made a home at Jewel Changi Airport, where it stocks over 200 of its best brands and designers selling fashion wear, jewellery, cute stationery, local books and more.

Get this SG Bicentennial Coasters ($2). This coaster collection, called a 'Peek Into Our Past', offers a glimpse at little-known historic events, places and artefacts from each century of Singapore's 700-year history. 

When I Was Four
  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Rochor

Here’s a throwback to your salad days. Check out the kitschy trinkets from When I Was Four – four being the tender age when children still look at life through rose-tinted glasses. Certainly, owner Tan Li Ling hopes to stir up fuzzy warm childhood memories through her small quantity of handmade products by bringing back familiar pieces and designs from simpler days. Most of the products are from her in-house brand, with a small collection from local designers such as Chirashi Bomb and Typesettingsg.

Get this Kopi bag ($15). Watch people do a double-take when you carry this lifelike tote that resembles the takeaway coffee plastic bags you usually get at a local coffee shop.

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Wandewoo
  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • City Hall

No home is complete without an art piece or two and that’s where Wandewoo comes in. The brainchild of Singaporean space stylist Sonny Boey and his two siblings, this home and lifestyle accessories store stocks one-of-a-kind items made by talented designers from around the world.

Get this Decorative art sculptures ($120-$820). These stunning brightly coloured pieces – all are hand-painted and crafted from fibreglass resin – instantly liven up any room.

  • Shopping
  • Lifestyle
  • Rochor

For the coolest and most unique shops and boutiques in Singapore, Haji Lane is the place to go. At Helvetia and Sons, you can shop for curated items from different Swiss brands and designers. Some of the best-sellers at the multi-label store stocks products like beautifully made children's shoes by Tiger Swiss, wooden toys from Trauffer, baby basics and accessories by Petit Stellou, sunglasses from up-and-coming Swiss brand Viu Eyewear and soaps from Soeder. 

Get this Scented candles ($28). Helvetia and Sons have also rolled out its own range of scented candles. Shop the collection and bring home something that suits your home. Options include Sage, Velvet Rose Oud and Wild Bluebell. 

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Supermama
  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Rochor

If the Japanese term ‘wabi-sabi’ means anything to you, then you’ll probably already know Supermama. The store specialises in porcelain homeware – by both local and Japanese craftsmen – whose beauty lies in its flaws and its delicateness. In other words, the wabi-sabi mantra of ‘imperfect, incomplete and impermanent’. Think asymmetrical bowls, dimpled cups and painstakingly handpainted plates inspired by modern Singapore culture. Because most items are available in limited quantities, your best bet’s to pop in and find out what’s in stock.

Get this Star Wars kopi set ($36). The traditional green and beige coffee cup and saucer set is given a contemporary twist – with designs inspired by Star Wars: The Last Jedi, no less. The Force is definitely strong with this one.

More shopping ideas

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