Who else misses the good old days? When snacks at your local mama shop cost you less than a dollar or two, playing in actual sandy playgrounds and finishing your homework in a jotter book.
wheniwasfour can give you a blast from the past through lifestyle products ranging from quirky notebooks and eccentric accessories to quintessentially Singaporean cushion covers.
Nestled humbly on the second floor of Waterloo Centre, I had trouble finding the store at first but when I was greeted with a very vintage yet visibly modern exterior I knew I was at the right place.
Entering the store, I was engulfed in a wave of local nostalgia. From the calming music to 1980s motifs that plastered their merchandise, I was slowly but surely sucked into a rabbit hole.
The store was admittedly quite tiny but they made use of the space they had by cramming product on every square inch available to them. I made a conscious effort to remember my usual strategy and darted for the back of the store so I could work my way up.
I immediately found something that resonated with me. As an avid lover of all things coffee, I found these notebooks (S$5.50) particularly gratifying. In all my travels around the world, our local Kopi is a taste that can never be replicated and the graphic along with its accompanying text perfectly encapsulates our feelings towards our favourite pick-me-up.
Sticking to the plan, I made a light-hearted turn to my right where I came face to face with these cute pins inspired by snacks from our childhood. They had pins with Mamee, Kaka Chicken Snacks and Super Rings digitally printed onto a polyester-like cushion.
They also carry quintessentially-Singaporean socks and this Kiasu Aunty one got a chuckle out of me. Their best seller, however, was out of stock; the Chinese composition socks.
When I enquired about them after doing a little research beforehand, I found out that they flew off the blocks and sold out quickly. Weird considering how much I remembered hearing my Chinese buddies complaining whenever they were given composition for homework, even resorting to inserting English words (I did that too).
Their phone cases were, in my opinion, their best product! Most times, we struggle to find the perfect mix of functionality, personality and style in our phone cases but these guys ticked all the right boxes. Extremely reasonably priced, they are my pick if you’re struggling to find an unconventional souvenir.
They have cases for all the popular phone models and a great customisation option if you want to take being unique, one step further.
Scouring through the troves of cases, I picked this one ($S16.90 ++) out for being charmingly witty. I asked my friends and they told me that the case reads, “One fine, sunny morning, Xiao Ming and Xiao Li”. A commonly taught writing prompt in schools for their compositions. Nothing could get as local as this, nothing!
White Rabbit hair ties (S$11.90)! Maybe, if you have a cute snack on your hair ties you won’t lose them as much?
Totes for every occasion. Weirdly, one design is never enough (We Bare Bears, anyone?) That youtiao chilling in a bowl of soya milk design (S$24.00) was way too good on so many levels for me to pass up on.
These cushions ($S26.90++) would make a great housewarming gift for any of your larger than life friends. Already putting them in my shopping cart as we speak.
The retail space is actually divided into two areas, with one occupied by another brand – The Commandment. They have a similar offering of products but with a different message consisting of inspirational all the way to self-love. My friend here couldn’t stop looking at their engraved necklaces (S$29.90) that were tastefully minimalistic.
wheniwasfour perfectly preserves our nostalgic feels into everyday products. I quizzed them about the inspiration behind their oddly named brand. They shed some light on the subject and told me that they found out that it is when you are four, that’s when you’ll start having impressions of everything around you.
There’s something oddly satisfying and poetic about all of this. Creating products for the future while taking inspiration from the past. If you’re wondering, there will be restocks for the Kopi Dabao bags and Chinese Composition socks next month! I also did hear a little rumour of a possible Teh Bing rendition coming soon!
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