Bali: Tropical paradise turned shopping-lovers’ heaven
Boho-chic, Parisian elegance, edgy-cool, ethnic luxe; Bali may be renowned for its exotic climate and idyllic beaches, but today it is evolving into a diverse and exciting hub for fashion.
The beauty of the artisan-entrepreneur fusion manifests itself best in the quality leather and fine jewellery pieces which can be bought in Bali, 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 for these unmissable items!
You’re probably wondering how leather has found itself into 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.
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. So here goes:
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!
Goat leather is slightly softer-to-the-touch and 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.
Sheep 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 though.
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.
Faux leather is 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.
So, armed with some newfound knowledge, let us take you to our favourite leather brands from Bali to shop:
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. Find out more!
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! Find out more!
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! Find out more!
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 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.
Indeed, the most common material from which Balinese jewellery is crafted in 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.
So which are the brands to watch in Bali right now? Here is our top list:
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. Find out more!
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. Find out more!
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. 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 for the jet-setting masses speaks for itself. How to look stylish and feel sexy pool- and beach-side is something only Bali knows best.
So let us drop a few names:
Thailika 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. Find out more!
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. Find out more!
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 gipsy; designer Alexandra Adamiak’s styles are made to make every female feel sexy. Find out more!
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.