Above the myriad international brands and neon lights that line Hong Kong’s crowded streets hide a handful of cosy independent shops run by passionate local entrepreneurs. Lurking on upper floors of the city’s high-rise buildings, and separated from glossy stores by a few flights of stairs, these stores mainly sell unique, artisan goods – proof that Hong Kong still has space for a slower lifestyle and curated aesthetics.
Many of Hong Kong's coolest shops are hidden away above street level © Elena Ermakova / Shutterstock
Take a deeper look at Hong Kong and find a well-and-truly hidden souvenir at one of these lesser-spotted shops.
Founded in 2013, Storerooms acts as a gallery for artful lifestyle products handpicked from different corners of the earth, each with a wonderful story behind it. From elaborate quilts from New York with astrological signs embroidered in silver thread, to minimalistic Japanese stationery and jewellery, Storerooms presents a thoughtful edit of everyday items in a bright but serene setting that allows shoppers to slow down and admire every product. Find it by locating the stairway wedged between a make-up store and a pharmacy on Sai Yeung Choi St South in Mong Kok – it's marked by a small black flag pegged above the entrance.
Find the Storerooms door wedged between a make-up store and a pharmacy in Mong Kok © Karen Chiang / Lonely Planet
Shōwa Film & Camera
Film and vintage camera buffs will love this shop. Named after and inspired by the eponymous golden age of Japanese history (1926-1989), Shōwa is founded on a love for analogue-age and film cameras. Lining the shop’s minimalist white walls are refurbished vintage film and polaroid cameras available for admiration and purchase, as well as accompanying films and accessories. Staff are immensely knowledgeable in the photographic arts and can help with processing photos, repairing or modifying cameras, and everything in between.
Camera-lovers' paradise: Showa is located at 66 Sai Yeung Choi St in Mong Kok © Karen Chiang / Lonely Planet
In a commercial building packed mainly with photocopying stores, nail salons and athletic shoe stores, Raider is hidden on the sixth floor in a tiny space smaller than most people’s bedroom. Dozens of neatly folded stacks of t-shirts show off the owner’s passion for this particular style of garment, which is also the only thing sold here. Find handpicked labels imported from the US and Japan, as well as Raider's own line. The owner also acts as a friendly consultant, helping shoppers find the best piece depending on the neckline, material, and cut.
Climb all the way to the 6th floor of the Ho King Commercial Centre to find Raider's unique collection © Karen Chiang / Lonely Planet
Founded by a pair of local graphic designers, Changchang Goodstore re-opened in Yau Ma Tei after high rent pushed them out of their first Tai Po location. Among industrial kitchenware shops on Shanghai St, this is a tidy antique store with a lean towards Japanese items that range from vintage ceramics to antique kitchenware and small wooden furniture, each personally sourced from Japan by the owner.
Buy uniquely crafted leather goods at Changchang Goodstore, or make your own © Karen Chiang / Lonely Planet
In tightly-packed Hong Kong, God Dag and the building it resides in provide a much-needed creative atmosphere for locals. After a ride in the vintage and very photogenic elevator from the 60's, complete with worn mechanical buttons on a golden panel, you’ll find God Dag (good day in Danish) on the fourth floor. The space feels like a European vintage boutique, with wooden shelves and ceramic plates displaying dainty jewellery and adorable knick-knacks the owner has brought back from her travels. God Dag also has its own line of contemporary apparel made in Hong Kong.
You have to take a ride in this 1960s lift to reach God Dag © Karen Chiang / Lonely Planet
A set of Indian tapestries on the walls of the staircase let you know you’re in the right place at Glimpse Workshop, a colourful boutique jam-packed with accessories, clothing and spiritual items from India, Nepal and Thailand. Think crystal balls and pendants, aromatic incense, feather dream catchers and boho-chic jewellery. Especially nice are the one-of-a-kind beaded bracelets and embroidered bags handmade by the owner.
Glimpse Workshop sells world spiritual items from a first-floor shop on Lockhart Rd © Karen Chiang / Lonely Planet
Forget about magnets or t-shirts as souvenirs; instead pick up some locally designed writing paper from The Tree Stationery. Tucked two stories above bustling Causeway Bay, it offers everything from pencils and ink to stationery designed by local artists and hard-to-find brands. The owner will take the time to explain the design behind every item – for example, a desk calendar depicting cats living in Hong Kong, illustrated by a Japanese lady who missed the cats she took care of back home after moving here. You’ll leave wanting to put pen to paper again.
Climb two flights of stairs to find artisan stationery in Causeway Bay © Karen Chiang / Lonely Planet
First opened in 1999, 8FIVE2 is one of the first streetwear and skateboard specialists in Hong Kong, stocking big names as well as underground labels popular in the skateboarding and streetwear culture. Now operating their own label, the store continues to be a destination for skateboarders and avid streetwear fans, and a place to shop for authentic and harder-to-find cult brands like Vans and Stussy.
8FIVE2's skatewear shop is upstairs on Jaffe Rd in Causeway Bay © Karen Chiang / Lonely Planet
More of a workshop than a store, Broken Fingers is one of the best independent leather-goods brands in Hong Kong. The brand specialises in functional but minimalist designs – for example, a duo-coloured crossbody box bag in double-layered French goatskin – made from scratch by the two founders, who are also artists. The shop also hosts private workshops (HK$500-2000) suitable for beginners: a fun way to spend an afternoon crafting your very own wallet or bag. You can also order something to be tailor-made for you, but there are plenty of ready-made items on the shelf for those short on time.