When embarking on any tropical-island holiday, you may immediately think of shopping for a sexy piece of swimwear, that trusty sarong or your all-purpose beach bag. And good on you! However, how about shopping for must-have items that you can only find there, from world-class designers and with a wide range of choices to die for?
Yes we’re talking about shopping in Bali, the world’s 16th most creative fashion destination and a place brimming with originality, that you will be hard-pressed to find anything even remotely similar anywhere in the world. So let’s help you with a little fashion-inspo and turn your shopping trip to Seminyak, Canggu or Ubud up a notch. We’ll help you narrow down on the top 5 must-have items to hit a home run with in the practicality department, and hitting it out of the park by looking absolutely fabulous.
Kimonos and Kaftans
Sarongs are great, but why not shop for a kaftan or a kimono instead. These two items are perfectly suited to give you all the cover-upping you need while looking fabulous and stylish at the same time. The Japanese inspired kimono, with its square geometric shape, loose fit and leave-it-to-the-imagination button-up front, is the perfect item for that fabulously stylish stroll over to the Beach Club bar to order your next mojito.
What’s more, the right kimono can be easily paired with shorts, a tight pair of jeans or 3/4 length pants, to give your favourite blouse a run for its money. Kimonos have evolved from their bathrobe roots, thanks to convention breaking designers who have transformed it into the staple piece of your swimwear wardrobe. The humble kaftan on the other hand is your evergreen beach, pool and travel go-to friend, and Bali’s fashion designers have done the world a great service by sprucing up this all-rounder.
Loose fitting, long at the waist and made of breathable cotton, the kaftan’s created by Bali’s fashion designers merge form, function and sexy design. To check out Bali’s kaftan prowess head over to Thaikila- Bali’s swimwear powerhouse and check out their inspired range of kaftans to keep you looking cool and breezy this beach season. Our favourite pick for anything kimono related, is Origin of Hearts. The brand specialises in creating uber luxurious silk kimonos inspired by traditional Indonesian patterns- everything about this brand says statement piece. Without a doubt, the brand has taken the traditional kimono to a whole new level.
Rompers and Jumpsuits
The versatile romper is more than just your easy-breezy slip on one-piece; it is the veritable swiss-army knife of island fashion. Perfect for any motorbike trip around the island, it gives you enough cover up to ride-around safely, while it is versatile enough to evolve from a bohemian staple with flats and bangles to a chic one-piece when paired with heels, a clutch and a few choice items of jewelry. Fashionably welcome at a hip beachclub, Canggu’s echo beach or a chic Seminyak restaurant, the trick with nailing the romper is limited by your imagination.
As an island fashion staple, Bali’s fashion designers have poured their creative talent into this versatile gem to give it a new lease of life to set you on the right track. With a range of original structural designs, prints, patterns and the creative use of contrasting materials, the rompers you find in Bali can take you in almost any direction. For chic and sophisticated rompers and jumpsuits, we advise to check out Natasha Gan; this Australian pioneering brand is all about adding a bit of class and style to this versatile one-piece. Berawa Luxe on the other hand, has its roots in Bali’s surfing enclave of Canggu and is all about nailing that beachy vibe with its bright patterns and prints. Bamboo Blonde is always a safe bet to stock up on a range of rompers, jumpsuits and one-pieces with its every changing collections, innovative design and young at heart attitude.
Leather Jackets and Bags
Shopping for leather items in hot tropical island? You must be kidding! Actually, we are not and once you meet the innovative brands pioneering leather design in this creative melting-pot, you will never again think twice! Bali is a centre for leather design and manufacturing which merges international design talent with artisanal craftmanship; an inspired synergy that ensures you will find designs and styles here that are found nowhere else in the world. When shopping for leather, look out especially for jackets and travel bags.
Armed with the right bit of knowledge you will be able to distinguish real fashion pieces from some of the mass-produced merchandise available. It is all in the original hide used to make the item, the tanning treatment it received and the hand that shaped it in something wonderful. Cow leather is always ubiquitous but look carefully for the way it is cut and treated. As a tougher skin to work with, a skilled artisanal hand is what makes the difference between a chunky angular piece, to a delicately shaped and manipulated item. The treatment also ranges from chrome tanning to vegetable tanning.
The former is the more widely practised method which softens the fibres in the hide, texturizing and sometimes colouring it- with a range of industrial chemicals. Vegetable tanning on the other is a natural process using natural ingredients to texture the skin- a longer, and less aggressive process, yet one that maintains many of the inherent qualities and patterns of the original hide. Goat leather is also a common hide used by Bali’s designers thanks to its pliable, soft-as-butter qualities; it is thinner than cow leather and therefore a popular material to use when designing for a hot tropical climate. Your go-to jacket would be a one made of a pliable leather such as goat skin or faux-leather, which makes an ideal partner for island motorbike rides, breezy evenings and chilly airport lounges. It gives you the right balance of comfort, coverage yet nothing that will make all hot and sticky in the tropical heat.
Check out 2nd Skin, this uber-chic brand has a keen following thanks to their goat leather jackets that are expertly cut, structured and have enough design features and embellishments for a comfortable, stylish yet edgy look. Kmana Concept on the other hand is a pioneer in designing super high-end travel gear, exclusively using chrome tanned leathers and a network of small cooperatives and family artisanal manufacturing partners. How good is it when you buy something to take with you globally, while having an impact locally? Convinced yet?
What if girl’s best friends (bracelets, necklaces, earrings… you name it!) are not only exquisitely cut, but also made by small-time artisanal craftsmen and women, using sustainable practices and are absolutely unique- each and every single piece? The right jewelry choices are the winning ingredient for every look and every setting- it adds some glam and sparkle to your pool-side swagger, it spruces up the humble jumpsuit into classy evening wear and even adds some oomph to your power suit. Say hello to one of the world’s creative hotbeds when it comes to jewlery design and production.
Fusing Bali’s rich heritage past and jewelry making tradition, with some of the world’s best jewelry design talent, and the result is absolute beauty. For gold and bold statement pieces- especially eye-catching bracelets and earrings, check out Kasha Bali- now a global jewelry brand, but produced in Bali. One of two pieces from this brand and your entire look is elevated up a notch- original and geometrically intricate, the collections of Kasha Bali are for the girl on the go. Marie Joelle Jewelry on the other hand packs it fair share of silver inspired design punches- versatile pieces that blend easily with most outfits and styles. Marie Joelle Jewelry is the go-to brand to stock up unique items for everyday wear.
Yes we said it, kids wear. It is little wonder that there is plenty of choice in Bali when it comes to this category. With the island’s lush green landscapes and hot tropical climate, kids need to be well equipped to frolic around in this island paradise. Numerous kids-wear brands call Bali their home, with a common feature the comfortable practicality of cotton-made bottoms, tops and dresses that ensure your little ones can play in comfort. Another common feature is the bountiful colours influencing these brands’ collections, a not unexpected by-product of the vibrant surroundings that all beings, both big and small, experience on this island.
Our go-to brand is KidsaGoGo, with several outlets on the island, the brand stacks a wide array of ultra-cute, easy to wear (and wash!) kid’s collections. We love the brand because the items can be worn time and time again, by younger brothers and sisters without the colors fading, or losing any of their cuteness. Born and raised in Bali, KidsaGoGo shows that big things come from small places.