Singapore’s got a lot more to offer its visitors than Merlion chocolates and bak kwa (barbequed pork). For cool mementos that’ll last longer than your suntan, Suasti Lye lets us in on a new wave of awesome souvenirs locals themselves will want to get their hands on.
Suasti should know. She’s the gal ( and the photographer) behind Straits Canopy, a collection of accessories and gifts inspired by Singapore’s rich melting pot of cultures. Taking inspiration from the Peranakans, Straits Canopy combines hip motifs with the beauty and uniqueness of all who call Singapore home to create something you will actually be proud to gift. Early Christmas shopping – check.
Some of my favourite items from our range include the handmade 14k gold earrings: from the delicate Lady N with gold and teal to the more boho Pink Lady – if only we had more than one pair of ear lobes! And for practical folks, the Straits Canopy Ultimate Tote is really handy (especially in a tropical downpour) – water resistant, durable and roomy in an eye-catching royal purple or fuchsia hue. Throw in a spare umbrella and an MRT card and you or your guests are set.
The latest addition is the Straits Canopy signature key charm – this little treasure is a fantastic present. Gift boxed with a note card – it’s the perfect little reminder of Singapore for friends near or far.
Straits Canopy, also available through various stockists.
FARM is an arts collective that dabbles in community projects, architectural design, art installations and product merchandising. What’s worth checking out is their online FARM store, which holds a collection of locally designed trinkets celebrating Singapore’s identity in all its quirkiness. Whether it’s mooncake-shaped paperweights, postcards of beloved local desserts, or an extremely useful guidebook to the local lingo at kopitiams – these souvenirs beat any Merlion, hands down.
The folks behind LOVE SG really love Singapore (warts and all) and they aren’t afraid to joke about it. The result is a line of tongue-in-cheek products that poke fun at our island’s little quirks, whether it’s the local lingo, the head-scratching laws (no chewing gum?!) or our obsession with food. The I Love Laksa and I Love Chilli Crab t-shirts will definitely get a chuckle or two out of you. The best part: klutzes needn’t worry about spilling food on these pristine tees – they already come with food splatters on them – convenient!
LOVE SG, also available through various stockists.
Raffles Hotel Gift Shop
It could be the colonial vibe of the Raffles Hotel or the G&Ts at the Long Bar first, but I always like browsing the gift shop. Whether clothing, provisions, souvenirs or beauty products, every item reflects the charm and elegance of the hotel. Besides the branded gifts, there are souvenirs selected from local artisans and respected producers that reflect the culture, heritage and experience of Singapore.
Raffles Hotel Gift Shop, 1 Beach Rd, Singapore 189673. P. 6337 1886. Hours: Mon-Sun 10am – 7pm
Snail mail may have lost its luster but if there were anyone who could bring back the joy of the written note, it’d be Kala Pata. Inspired by the kaleidoscope of sights and colours of Singapore, this local stationery brand translates them into a gorgeous line of greeting cards and notebooks with Peranakan and batik inspired prints that are (almost) too pretty to write on.
Kala Pata, also available at Jooix and through various stockists.
As Singapore’s answer to Etsy, Naiise brings beauty and great design to the forefront with products you never knew you wanted – but have to have anyway. Check under the ‘Go Local’ category and you’ll be spoilt for choice with the range of kitschy-cute curios that are unabashedly Singaporean in nature. Our top pick goes to the line of cheeky t-shirts by Statement that’s sure to raise eyebrows – these tees feature some very rude words favoured by locals. Definitely a contentious gift, but who doesn’t love learning how to curse in another language? Our advice: just don’t give it to your mother or your little cousin.
Heritage plays a big part with this locally based design company. By threading the fine line between cultural legacy and the concept of basic luxury, Democratic Society’s designs are elegant, stylish, and yet still inherently Singaporean. Singapore Icons is their collection of ceramic wares, which features striking designs of our country’s well-loved motifs. It’s the perfect gift for any domestic goddess with a penchant for all things pretty.
Democratic Society, available at Supermama and Singapore Art Museum (SAM).
If you haven’t already figured it out, Singaporeans are obsessed with food – especially our own. So really, there’s no better souvenir of Singapore than one that features our local cuisine in all its glory. Get clued in on how to cook classic Peranakan, Chinese, Indian, and Eurasian dishes with Epigram’s selection of local cookbooks. Your international friends will love them.