At first glance, Singapore seems to be endlessly and ubiquitously composed of malls. However, when you look more carefully, you’ll realize that there are independent boutiques selling all manner of products all across the island. Some of the best neighbourhoods in which to find these indie stores are Haji Lane in Bugis and Tiong Bahru, but the true gems are hidden outside these neighbourhoods waiting to be discovered by intrepid shoppers.
Strangelets, located in café-heavy, hipster heaven Tiong Bahru, is one of Singapore’s most popular independent shops for cute housewares and collectibles. Visitors to their shop will immediately be struck by their philosophy of uniqueness and the desire to own something that is not just beautiful, but one-of-a-kind as well. They carry an extensive range of collections procured from many different designers, from jewelry and pottery to bookshelves and more.
Keepers is an indie jewelry store tucked away on the second floor of the National Design Centre. This minimalist store carries products by Singapore designer Carolyn Kan, known as Carrie K. Her collections are inspired by the idea that there is beauty in imperfection and the importance of taking the time to appreciate the small things in life that many seem ordinary and unremarkable. Kan draws from her own life – previously the Managing Director of an international advertising agency, she woke up one day and realized that it was time for her to follow her dreams and set out with determination to achieve them.
Naiise has found remarkable success in a very short time. The design concept was launched just three years ago by husband-and-wife team Dennis Tay and Amanda Eng. The idea, spearheaded by Dennis, was to combat the idea that design is stiff and elitist, instead having people understand that design can be accessible and relatable. He achieved this by showing off local designers through everyday products, such as t-shirts, local souvenirs, furniture, and more. Today, the label carries an unfathomably diverse range of products with over 15,000 unique items by nearly 1,000 designers across a dozen different categories across eight Singapore stores, special pop-ups, and their online platform.
Mythology is an independent fashion boutique targeting local young professionals. When Apsara Oswal opened the store a few years ago, her goal was to get these young women out of the drab monochromatic colours often associated with the corporate world and into vibrant colours and daring patterns that allow them to express their personalities and attitudes. The collection at Mythology heavily features the works of Singaporean designers including ARC, Lionel, and NAO, as well as designers from all around the region including Twister Sisters out of Hong Kong and Off Duty from Bali.
The Little Drom Store is perhaps the store on this list that you are the least likely to randomly discover on account of it being tucked away inside SOTA, the School of the Arts. This independent shop is a vintage toy and knick-knack collector’s dream. The shop is tiny, colourful, and overflowing with with a veritable treasure of film cameras, adorable pieces of jewelry with a local twist, colourful house accessories, and more. The Little Drom Store hopes to make the world a lovelier place by bringing people together regardless of social barriers.
BooksActually, Singapore | Courtesy of Books Actually
Books Actually is as famous for its cat employees as the shop itself. The independent bookstore opened in 2005, and along with the standard fiction and nonfiction stock, the store also boasts the island’s largest collection of Singapore literary works. Alongside these collections, the store also publishes their own books as Math Paper Press and produces hand-stitch notebooks as Birds & Co.