We’ve almost reached that curious bracket of time – not quite the end of the summer and not quite the start of the school year – that generally involves legging it around and being thoroughly unprepared as the kids head back to school for another term (you’re allowed to say ‘phew’, we don’t judge here).
If you’re new to Singapore, this process can be even more frantic, with hundreds of shopping malls to get lost in while you specifically search for ‘a pink pencil with strawberries on it please, mummy’. So to give you a hand with tracking down cute shops and an idea of what to expect when you get in there, we’ve created this handy guide to affordable back-to-school shopping in Singapore.
If you’ve got a little one, last year’s bag may have been torn to shreds – kicked and dragged until most of the zips and straps had given up and waved the white flag.
Kid2Youth offers a variety of sturdy and durable school bags, with cool features that are great for tearing around the playground. These include extra padding, waterproof insides and outsides, tilt-proof bases, reflective film, easy-to-open-but-hard-to-break clips and side pockets for water bottles. And there are all sorts of cute and colourful designs that are worth checking out.
Parkway Parade #01-69 and Jem #04-50.
And if you’ve got a bigger one, last year’s bag will no doubt have been declared ‘like, so uncool and totally 2012’ (not that we’re suggesting your child is a character from Clueless). With uniforms being mostly obligatory in schools, backpacks are a way for teens to express their ever-changing style. Jansport has a wide range of different, practical designs that come at an affordable price and seem to be a popular among the ‘youths of today’. Pick one up at one of the many Royal Sporting House outlets across the city.
As we all know, it’s not just about the backpack, it’s also about what’s in the backpack. Pencil cases are proudly produced and slapped onto the table during the first lesson back, with the latest trends in terms of cartoon characters, bands and, er, other cool stuff reflected in the designs.
Art Friend has a cute range of kids’ pencil cases, folders and notebooks in all shapes and sizes. They have an Orchard Road store and others across the city – see all of the locations here. Smiggle is another popular shop for younger kids who love themed stationary, lots of colour and plenty of choice. Locate one of their stores on the island here.
Typo is a good option for older kids with a sense of humour, with lots of tongue in cheek designs for affordable prices. This cute store also sells bags, phone covers, home furnishings and some of the best greetings cards in town, so you can stock up on bits and bobs while you’re at it! See the collection here and head to 313 Somerset or Wisma Atria to get shopping.
Whether you’re after texts to go with the curriculum, test samples ahead of exams or extra books to help with tricky subjects, Popular should have what you’re looking for. They also have a wide selection of novels and fiction, if you’ve got a young JK Rowling on your hands. Buy online or find a store near you (there are plenty!) here.
Times bookstores also offer lots of options for kids and teens, but have a larger fiction section than non-fiction. Find a store near you here.
Lunch boxes can be tricky to track down in Singapore, but it’s worth getting hold of a good one to protect sandwiches, fruit and biscuits from the humidity. CasaBento offers dozens of super cute, affordable lunch boxes for kids and teens, which come with handy moulds and sections to divide the meal into protected sections. Check out their new store in Takashimaya for lots of options.
To find your child a great lunchbox that A) they’ll love and B) won’t lose, take a look at online store Stuck On You, which helps you create personalised back-to-school items for the little ones. Check out the site for some fun, practical lunchbox options (they sell cute bags too).
Ah, if only grown ups needed to buy as many pairs of shoes as the kids need when they’re growing up (‘but seven out of ten toes were physically poking through’ would be much easier way to explain those Aldo receipts). We digress.
With plenty of running around, lots of hot sunshine and a healthy dose of rain, children need school shoes that are suitable for just about everything. Keen sell super comfy and lightweight footwear for kids that dries off quickly keeps the feet cool during the day. They also have a handy elastic cord lace to allow for easy pulling on and off. Pick up a pair at a World of Sports outlet or Queensway shopping mall.
Crocs are another comfy all-round option for kids, coming in all sorts of colours and sizes. And they’re a joy to clean too – wipe and go! They have outlets in Marina Square, Plaza Singapura and more – get all the details here.
Shoes aren’t quite as easy to find when it comes to teenagers, with the perfect pair of shoes being an essential part of a cool return to school. From chatting to teens ourselves, we hear that Rubi shoes are a solid option in terms of comfort and style, with most coming in at under $50. See the collection and find a store here.
Payless is another popular shoe store that offers a wide variety of different styles – in heaps of colours, brands and sizes – for ‘cool’ teenagers. Head to their CentrePoint store or see more outlets here.
You’ve decked your child out in the latest trends, with the right books and practical equipment, but they’re still not quite convinced about heading back into the classroom. Well, we can’t work miracles, but these funky accessories might just tempt them back into school (for a spot of good old fashioned show and tell).
For a spot of personality over a drab uniform, whisk your little girl off to Accessorize and get her to choose one or two fun pieces for her hair. Check out the Accessorize outlets – or alternatively head to the equally sparkly shop Diva, at ION or Junction 8 in Bishan.
For boys’ accessories, give Nordstrom a try. They have bags of suitably boyish watches, belts, glasses and hats to choose from.
And we’ll leave you with one final tip – if you want to hammer all of the back to school shopping in one go for as little money as possible, take a deep breath and head to Mustafa Centre on Syed Alwi Road in Little India. They sell everything and anything if you look hard enough for it, including bags, shoes, stationary, lunchboxes and every type of chocolate you could possibly imagine (you’ll need it afterwards).
Want more? See our style & beauty section!