When shopping in Bali, let us make it easy for you. In Bali you will find some of the best quality leather and fine jewellery pieces available, while swimwear is an undeniable essential for any sun-drenched getaway in paradise. We’ve curated some top tips to help you get the best out of your boutique-browsing and our list of 8 unmissable brands to discover. So here goes…
How to Shop Balinese Leather Fashion
You’re probably wondering how leather has found itself in an essential list of pieces to shop for in Bali – and we understand why! But the quality of craftsmen with the niche knowhow to manipulate the versatile material into something beautiful is unmatched elsewhere in the world. This skill is precisely what brands such as Kmana Concept, 2nd Skin and Lilla Lane have harnessed in their production. Hence, leather production, as a heritage craft, is quite the industry in Bali.
It exemplifies the power of choosing timeless creations over the relentlessness of seasonal collections and the unsustainable pressure to produce. Creative forces behind the designs are less concerned with being on-trend, and more with the lasting power of their pieces, certain that if you hand-make high quality pieces, the value of such designs will soon speak for themselves.
And, as previously discussed, this product differentiation by quality is proving to be a competitive advantage. What’s more, valuing small-scale over global production favours ethical practices, and supports local economies and family-owned cooperatives who set their own labour and wage standards.
A variety of types of leather are used by Balinese brands, and it is worth finding out exactly what you’re buying before doing so in order to ensure you get the look, and feel, you’re after.
Cowhide is generally the most commonly-found type and offers the best versatility and value-for-money. Incredibly durable, it is suited to dyes, embellishments and patterned details – and looks better with age! Slightly softer-to-the-touch, goat’s leather is more lightweight, but nonetheless tougher than that of a cow when it comes to resisting water and stains. It tends to be a favourite for leather goods which are more likely to be subject to weathering: luxury leather bags, gloves and wallets, for example. Together with goat’s leather, sheep’s leather is a finer grain, thinner type. Supple enough for folding and pleating, for a cute leather skirt, for example, sheep’s leather is less durable. Snake’s leather is somewhat commonplace in Bali, its scaled patterns highly desirable for decorative purposes. Suede is quite the luxury. Despite it being more susceptible to stains, and scratching, its soft elegance articulates a more subtle feminine style than that of straight-cut, simple leather. Its thickness can vary depending on the animal of origin. Finally, there is, of course, faux leather, made from synthetic materials, such as polyester, rayon or nylon with a coating of either polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride.
Make sure to check the breathability of the material before buying, as this can be a common slip-up with faux leather. It nonetheless achieves the same look as the real deal, often for less money and avoiding the use of animal products, if that’s what you require.
With such emphasis on building a wardrobe made to stand the test of time, we couldn’t think of a better time to invest in a leather piece while you’re in Bali.
The leather jacket, for example, along with its other leather companions, has a kind of staying power, a forever chic that makes it a fundamental building block of any wardrobe. 2nd Skin have got every silhouette covered: the tried and tested moto and biker styles, as well as the trucker, button-up and sleek zip-up as fresher alternatives.
But what makes 2nd Skin quite so special is their unique approach to what they call ‘Leather by Design’. Of course, finding The One in a sea of leather jackets, with varying quality and design details is no easy task. 2nd Skin’s innovative solution is to offer the opportunity to either create your dream piece from scratch, or edit one of their already-existing designs to match every single element perfectly to your style.
For the leather bag of dreams, check out Kmana Concept. Unrivalled quality, organically-processed leather (vegetable tanning maintains the raw quality of the hides), and uncompromising commitment to the most ethical practices, their duffle bags, weekenders, totes, clutches and backpacks will make you feel a million dollars – and they will surely last a lifetime. What’s more, for the vegans among us, they are working on a vegan leather collection to extend the accessibility of the material to the increasing numbers turning away from animal products and towards a more mindful lifestyle. Kmana Concept is one to watch!
Finally, Lilla Lane successfully takes the traditionally-edgy ‘rocker’ material and articulates a bohemian, laidback style. Designer Thora Moss’ free spirit truly speaks for itself through her leather bags, shoes and accessories, and her focus on intricate design details, precise cutting and stitching, and pretty pleats and folds, is innovatively delicate and keeps us coming back for more!
How to Shop Balinese Jewellery
That Bali is the home of some of the world’s most exquisite jewellery is unsurprising, given its rich history of jewellery use for religious and tribal functions. The skills of Bali’s jewellery-makers have transcended years of extravagant temples, opulent heirlooms and ritualised religious offerings, all of which display intrinsic beauty and require delicate intricacy. With little change from this to the practices used to craft today’s jewellery, it truly exemplifies just how the talented artisans behind Bali’s bejewelled beauties have been unconsciously practicing the art of ‘slow’ long before it became the ‘it’ word of the fashion world.
Moreover, the mystic energy of such a spiritual heritage inspires designs you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Every single sterling silver or gold vermeil piece, and every single gem, and decorative detail, is lovingly crafted. The people and the place cannot be separated from the product, helping to change the throwaway, materialistic psychology of ‘fast fashion’ in favour of one which values instead that with which we can feel a connection. And the true unique selling point of Bali jewellery is that no two pieces are ever the same. It has the artisan’s mark from start-to-finish, and because of those who touch it, it winds up more beautiful than ever anticipated in the early design stages.
If you’re particularly interested in the story of how your Balinese jewellery came to be, make sure you pay a visit to the village of Celuk. The town is a jewellery exhibition itself; silver and gold shops, galleries and workshops line the streets, and it is possible to see the production of gold and silver in its entirety.
Indeed, the most common material from which Balinese jewellery is crafted is 925 sterling silver. It is bright and shiny, and doesn’t tarnish easily (don’t be fooled by the lower-quality replicas!). Often adorned with silver beads, these raised intricate details are crafted using specialist techniques. Other materials which are employed are gold (either 22-carat, or silver coated in gold vermeil), and brass. Finally, precious stones, such as turquoise and Mother of Pearl sometimes feature on the jewellery.
Kasha Bali is a flawless blend of influences: Greek mythology, icons of the Egyptian era and the African Masai, and of course Balinese tribal customs. The pieces make a striking statement and convey the image of a powerful woman; a leader empowered to achieve her dreams. The brand mainly uses brass, and employs a vast range of textures on each piece to add unique interest. The Selena earrings, for example, convey a smooth and rippled wave-like look, while the Lucia earrings contrast this with a more granular texture, emulating perfectly a shell.
Marie Joelle Jewellery embodies exactly what makes Bali jewellery so beautiful: her designs, themselves a beautiful creation, are inspired by her divine journey through life, and are crafted as a means to tell this story. Achieving a deeper purpose than your average jewellery, they serve as a reminder of our spiritual essence and our connectedness to nature. She uses a diverse variety of materials: silver, gold, brass, rose gold and bronze, elegantly adorned with black diamonds, crystals feathers, or mandala patterning.
How to Shop for Bali Swimwear
Of course, we couldn’t not feature some swimwear inspiration – and Bali is not short of it. We are in the land of all things tropical, after all! A by-product of the vibrant surroundings, Bali’s swimwear industry is booming and the island is the home of some of the world’s top swimwear designers. What makes it even more attractive in the current fashion climate is that these brands can proudly boast that their entire collection has been designed, manufactured and sold in the same place.
It is a truly home-grown industry, thanks to the aforementioned creative eco-system of Bali. And such is the success of Bali swimwear that a number of brands are already being widely exported to high-end boutiques and beach-side resorts in the hottest destinations across the world. The demand of the jet-setting masses speaks for itself. How to look stylish and feel sexy pool- and beach-side is something only Bali knows best.
To drop a few names, Thaikila is perhaps the most international brand. Luxury fabrics are complemented with delicate details such as crochet and lace, as well as intricate stitching and accessory-rich detailing to give a truly feminine feel.
Rimmba is the newest label to step onto the scene. Channelling sultry minimalism and effortless chic, the pieces make a simply sophisticated statement – and thanks to the fact that they are all made from the highest quality fabrics (including recycled Italian lycra) and natural dyes, their timeless style won’t be fading any time soon.
Finally, Aanoukis Swimwear is a celebration of all styles! Boldly coloured bikinis and two-pieces, flattering cuts to suit all shapes and sizes, and even a touch of bohemian chic for the inner gypsy; designer Alexandra Adamiak’s styles are made to make every female feel sexy.
Need more Inspiration?
It’s safe to say that retail therapy in Bali is not an activity to be underestimated, and nor is the flourishing fashion industry which has emerged there. So, never mind the palm-tree decorated boardwalks, think boutique-lined streets; Bali is not merely a tropical paradise, but more a fashion-lovers’ heaven. For more ideas check out our blog for other tips or shop our collections now on Black Book Fashion.