I spent last week in Singapore attending the city's Audi Fashion Festival. To conclude my coverage, I offer you an abbreviated guide to shopping in the city. Shopping for the mall-adverse, that is. Because Singapore—which to me, feels like a cross between Vancouver, Las Vegas and, well, Asia—is filled with malls. If you live in a place that doesn't have Forever 21, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, etc.—or the internet—you might want to visit those malls. But for most of us, a mall is a mall is a mall. These are shops you won't find anywhere but Singapore.
Haji Lane (View on map) This is the most well-known "alternative shopping" street in Singapore, and for good reason. There are plenty of adorable boutiques selling reasonably priced fashion. I liked Kin—a men's and women's shop that sells locally made belts and accessories alongside international labels including Engineered Garments, New Balance and Norse Projects—and also Crayon, whose Louis Vuitton-esque tunic (pictured) really got me. Soon Lee, another boutique on the street, sells local label Chalk, a favorite amongst fashion-y girls who like super-feminine clothes.
Tiong Bahru (View on map) This tiny cluster of restaurants and shops was by far my favorite, probably because there was a) good coffee, b) cute boutiques and c) delicious snacks. Order a latte at 40 Hands, grab a Popaganda ice pop at home design store Strangelets, then head over to Nana & Bird, my favorite boutique in Singapore. The owners stock a mix of local and European designers, including one of my favorite jewelers ever: Tatty Devine. (They also carry LA-based handbag line Building Blocks, which is so good I almost paid the crazy Singapore taxes to take one home.)
Mustafa Center (View on map) The best way to describe Mustafa? It's like an Indian-themed Big Lots. Except with a grocery store and restaurants, too. Could also be described as an Indian-themed Don Quijote, if you get that reference. Whatever it is, it's an experience. I never have to go there again, but I'm glad I went once.
Far East Plaza (View on map) So this is sort of a mall...but it's more like a shopping center. You can get basically anything beauty-related treatment here, from a massage to hair extensions. My manicure still looks fresh a week later.
Hawker Markets When you're shopping this much, you must eat. And when you eat in Singapore, you must go to a hawker market. Order the chicken rice first, then try other specialties. Serious Eats did a nice beginner's guide to the hawker markets.
Okay, One Mall: Orchard Central (View on map) Orchard Road is Singapore's main shopping drag and boasts plenty of malls. But Orchard Central is special, mostly because it houses quite a few local-designer boutiques. I recommend Reckless Ericka and Black Market.