Despite the Singapore Tourism Board's constant efforts to position the 'Lion state' as an Asian shopping capital, one has to say it again and again: shopping here can be pretty boring. Strolling down Orchard Road brings the over-familiar shops - which we have learned to love or hate depending on our sense of style - that you can find in any other world capital. Starbucks and the like dominate the al fresco landscape. Even designer shops are said by local socialites to be uninspiring, because their buyers keep bringing in the tried-and-tested clothes they know will sell well to the older generation. One younger woman recently told me that she regularly shopped for designer clothes in Hong Kong, because the choice was greater. Yet, the current drive to promote creativity is starting to bear fruit. Here and there, innovative retail outlets are starting to reshape the urban landscape - from a bohemian cafe to a chic boutique hotel or a tucked-away interior-design shop. You can find 'wow' places in Singapore if you know where to look. Cafes like Kaki 5 (close to Arab Street) or Gone Fishing (unfortunately not located by the sea, but in the lush greenery of Bukit Timah) bring a whiff of bohemia and community spirit to local neighbourhoods. These cozy hangouts for so-called artists have been multiplying of late. Singapore CityScoops, an independent guide to 'authentic retail experiences', was recently published for local urban adventurers. It highlights a sample of the city state's eclectic flavour and fresh initiatives, and will surprise even the locals - though it does also include many well-known haunts. Welcome to the age of 'curated consumption', where consumers have 'curators' pre-select and tell them what is trendy and cannot be missed. So, in the fashion stakes, I have discovered that one can feed a craving for a country look at JR Texas on Coleman Street, a haven of pointy leather boots and cowboy-style shirts and hats. Do you think there is more to a sari than Little India? Then head for Chokri, the hip boutique for the local Indian community, which offers its buyers glasses of champagne and cappuccino while they browse through the latest offerings from some of India's hottest designers. Many of the owners of these new trendy boutiques are former white-collar professionals who have quit the rat race to indulge their passion. We are still a far cry from the retail heavens found in cities like Paris, where one boutique after the other offers exclusive wares. Here, those are still few and far between. But at least things are changing.