Arguably Singapore’s jewel of the East, Joo Chiat is an area brimming with neighbourly charm and liveliness. Once teeming with coconut and cotton plantations, Joo Chiat used to be the preserve of wealthy city folk looking for a weekend getaway. With rapid urbanisation, Joo Chiat was transformed into a residential suburb populated by a burgeoning English-educated middle class – most notably, the Peranakans and Eurasians. Besides a solid reputation as a foodie destination, Joo Chiat is immediately recognisable for its row of well-dressed conservation shophouses with stuccoed facades and ornate Peranakan-tiled walls.
Not just a place to observe Peranakan traditions, Joo Chiat’s new breed of boutique establishments, ranging from cooler-than-thou cafes, art and furniture galleries and eclectic shops make Joo Chiat a fascinating place to explore. Here is our guide to shopping in Joo Chiat presenting our curation of must-visit local brands.
Vintage shopping kicks
For your vintage shopping kicks, make the trek to Bangku Bangku Art Gallery where a treasury of time-worn curios and collectibles awaits. Breathe in the sweet notes of nostalgia as you peruse the collection of old phones, cameras, typewriters and radio sets whose histories span the ‘20s through to the ‘70s. Lofty grandfather clocks stand amidst other vintage receptacles such as 1980s Raleigh bikes and old world signage. Be sure to browse through their wide range of Javanese-style furniture that’s inspired by Indonesian heritage and culture.
Eclectic lifestyle boutique
Mall snobs and indie-lovers will rejoice in the eclectic tendencies of Cat Socrates. This small but tasteful shop stocks all manner of paper paraphernalia, artisanal homeware, lo-fi cameras, toys, potted succulents, bags, small accessories and other curiosities. Artsy and creative types throng the store for its colourful and sometimes irreverent wares, which are mostly sourced from independent local and international designers and makers. Grab any number of quirky paper goods and Singapore-themed trinkets to quell your souvenir-hunting woes and don’t forget to offer an appreciative pat to the feline shop manager, ‘Lychee’.
Traditional jewellery with a twist
The location of Choo Yilin’s jewellery studio and boutique couldn’t be more apt, considering the luxe jewellery label’s focus on Asian heritage and conservation. A relative newcomer to the Joo Chiat scene, Choo Yilin artisan jewellery crafts modern heirloom jewellery while preserving traditional jewellery-making and craft techniques. A fierce supporter of Asian heritage, the jewellery label partners with artisans and social enterprises in Southeast Asia to create unique design-driven pieces. The label is known for innovative pieces such as the Choo Yilin jade bangle – a finely sculpted jade piece, framed in an intricate filigree of precious metals and gemstones.
One-stop lifestyle jaunt
Dig up some unique finds at Egg3’s concept store, which boasts a well-curated mix of interior, fashion, and lifestyle accessories that are not cut from the same cloth as your typical mall offerings. Sticking out like a sore thumb from the other store fronts at the family-friendly suburban mall, Egg3 serves up refined homewares, industrial-style furniture and other decorative items to personalize your space. The trendy boutique also brings in emerging local and international fashion and accessory labels such as Pearly Wong, making this space well and truly a one-stop fashion and lifestyle jaunt.
Timeless hat styles
From the late great Humphrey Bogart to the suave Gary Cooper, no dashing gent is seen without a stylish topper. Panama hats are the chosen head gear for summer for reasons aplenty, and there’s no place better than Hat of Cain for your Panama fix. The distinguished hat salon offers an astounding selection of authentic Panama hats, from the timeless fedora to the popular boater, pork pie and plantation styles. With a wide brim to shield the face from daunting sunrays and a breathable weave to keep your head cool, the Panama hat is a practical and charming essential for the tropics. Mosey down for some first-class treatment at a private fitting or to engage Hat of Cain’s bespoke services.
New, refreshing concept store
Housed in a two-storey conservation building on East Coast Road, Haus of Egg3 is not your typical lifestyle store, but rather, a new interpretation of what a lifestyle concept store should be like. Furniture, decor and fashion pieces are placed sporadically around the shophouse giving the customer a sense of being in a real home; letting them discover new pieces at every turn. Haus of Egg3 provides a different and more intimate experience compared to its other Egg3 stores. However, its wide array of handpicked products; which include furniture, home decor, fashion and gift accessories, still remain, and is definitely a treat for any shopper.
Child-friendly furniture selection
Whitewashed beds, cots, chests, bookcases and bedside tables provide the perfect scenery for your nursery or kid’s bedroom. Crafted from solid timber and painted in a child-friendly finish, Ni-night’s range of designer furniture promises to endure every child’s routine. Bed sheets and quilts dotted with fun-filled patterns and sugary motifs make the perfect accompaniment to the pint-sized furniture. If that isn’t enough to keep you entranced, there’s a limited range of clothing for babies and toddlers available, along with a treasure trove of accessories, games and decor you won’t easily find elsewhere.
Luxurious fragrance range
To Be Calm offers alluring fragrances to accompany life’s rainbow. Invite an atmosphere of balance and calm into your home with To Be Calm’s luxurious range of scented candles, diffusers and natural scented oils. If feelings and moods could be condensed and presented in a pretty little package, we reckon this is it. Its thoughtfully composed scents are capable of evoking the perfect ambience one seeks, whether it be one of inspiration, clarity or intimacy. We love the Celebration candles with joyous and uplifting notes of Native Floral, Citrus and Spice.
Sustainable bamboo clothing
It’s easy to preach about the benefits of Zhai’s bamboo clothing. In a breath, it’s environmentally sustainable, free of toxic dyes, anti-bacterial, absorbs moisture, odor resistant, UV-protective, biodegradable, durable and super luxurious to the touch. They’re also impossibly stylish to boot. Crafted from organic bamboo fibre, Zhai has mastered the art of simple, classic and versatile fashion. Expect loosely draped cardigans, basic figure-skimming tees and tops, waterfall maxi dresses and comfy stretch trousers in easy-to-match hues. A word of warning though…it’s hard not to get addicted to the second-skin comfort of bamboo!