Too Cool for School

By Jodie Macleod 2019-05-09 15:31:28

We usually stock up on new school gear at the start of the year, but why not inject some creativity into the end of the semester, when children need that extra motivation to see them through to summer.

Whether you want to fill the school bag with eco-friendly water bottles, art deco paper, fashionable outdoor shoes, international books, or up-cycled sports clothes, there is always someone selling the treasures that you seek in Shanghai. So here’s the go-to guide for those school essentials, bringing a whole new level to the phrase ‘Too Cool for School’.


Garden Books



International bookshops are sought-after places in Shanghai, but Garden Books offers the widest range of best-sellers in the city, encouraging children and adults alike to feed their inner bookworm. As well as classic literature, travel guides and language aids, they also stock a selection of ‘I Can Read’ children’s books for younger one’s to sink their teeth into.

The back of the shop hosts a lovely cafe, making it the perfect place for the family to peruse the shelves then while away hours reading your new purchases with a coffee or an ice cream.


Paper Tiger



In 2008 Shanghai-based entrepreneur, Lucy Young, saw a gap in the market for beautifully crafted note-cards, gift wraps and tags. She created Paper Tiger to offer high-quality products that reflect the city around her. As the end of the semester approaches, say ‘thank you’ to the teacher by wrapping their present in Shanghai-inspired paper from the collection of double-sided gift wraps, each made from 100% recycled paper with soy-based ink. You can also purchase sets of bespoke note cards which take just 2 weeks to be printed, meaning there’s still time before the last day of term.

WeChat Official Account: PaperTigerShang 





Send your child to school with the coolest sneakers this side of the Bund. First produced in Shanghai in the 1920’s, Feiyue has taken the city by storm with its simple white and stripe design. 

The name Feiyue means “Flying Forward” and your child will certainly fly around the school yard in these fashion-forward outdoor shoes. They’re comfortable, stylish and priced around just 120 RMB, making them an ideal purchase for those little feet that just won’t stop outgrowing shoes.

You’ll find stores at locations around the city. 


Hands of Hope



Founder Ruth Winslow traveled China in the 1990’s, offering medical treatment to people living with leprosy, and it was here that she learned of the discriminations women faced because of the disease. Fast forward to 2019 and welcome to Hands of Hope, a fabric company employing and empowering women with disabilities. They create beautiful notebook covers made from weather resistant canvas and each piece is handmade using high-quality, local fabrics. An ode to ethical business, the covers not only protect notebooks and store pens in their zip, but also provide steady income for the maker. Covers fit A5 notebooks and cost 100 RMB. 

WeChat Official Account: handsofhope