Fashion bargains await beyond the sea in Bali
Indonesia's most popular holiday island is also a red-hot destination for surf fashion bargains
Sunset beachside cocktails, infinity edge pools and cliff-top villas have their allure, but Bali also excels when it comes to fashion. Whether you're seeking the chilled-out surfer look, a sophisticated dress for restaurant hopping, tropical chic for kids or some hand-crafted local style, the island has you covered.
Bali's fantastic surf is what drew many travellers here in the early days, so it makes sense that surf fashion is huge. You'll find plenty of outlets of all the major international brands — Rip Curl, Quiksilver, Hurley, Billabong and O'Neill — selling bikinis, boardies, rashies, polos, sunglasses, watches, bags and other paraphernalia.
Along Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai, just before Dewa Ruci when coming from the airport, are a cluster of factory outlets where you can snare some surfer threads for a song. Bali Surf Outlet (BSO) and Surfer's Paradise are among those to look for, while Surfer Girl has an outlet on Jalan Dewi Sri, Kuta.
Or go window shopping while sipping on a Bintang at Single Fin, perched over Bali's Uluwatu surf break. Surfers trudge up and down the steps just outside so you can observe the latest fashion in the water before ducking into their on-site surf shop.
Bali is well known for its markets, and while the quality won't be as high as in the shops, you can pick up some great selections to go with higher end pieces — no one will ever know you haggled that funky shirt down to a few bucks. Check out the main markets at Kuta, Legian, Seminyak Square and Ubud for dresses, trousers, T-shirts, belts, shoes and jewellery. Unless prices are marked, do bargain, though you're most likely to see a serious price drop if buying several pieces.
Children are spoiled for choice when it comes to fashion in Bali. You can't beat Coco and Ginger (Jalan Petitenget; cocoandginger.com) for its distinctly tropical look; Australian designer Saffron Pugh-Blaby takes inspiration from the colour that infuses everyday Balinese life. Dandelion (Jalan Raya Basangkasa 28, Seminyak; dandelionkid.com) offers clothes for both girls and boys styled in France and produced in Indonesia. Kidsagogo ( kidsagogo.com) has crisply coloured clothes for kids aged up to eight; think blocks of colour with lots of cooling white, geometric batik and bold hand-stitching.
Tap into Indonesian culture by exploring the history of indigenous weaving at Threads of Life (Jalan Kajeng, Ubud; threadsoflife.com). While all kinds of heirloom-quality fabric and baskets are sourced from around the archipelago and makes for great artwork, you can also pick up stunning handcrafted scarves.
If you fall in love with the Balinese kebaya (traditional dress), shop for your own fabric along Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar, where bolt upon bolt of colourful fabric will inspire. Ask a local for a tailor recommendation and have them whip something up.
For high-end international brands, head to the breeze-cooled mall, Beachwalk off Kuta beach (Jalan Pantai Kuta; beachwalkbali.com). Simple Konsep (Jalan Laksmana, Seminyak; sksbali.com) is a small shop but worth seeking out for its beautifully curated selection for men and women — think Vivienne Westwood alongside Oishii and Melissa.
Just opened retail space and cafe Souq (Jalan Basangkasa 10, Seminyak; souqstore.co) stocks clothing brands Maikhanh, Jaclin Chouchana, Laurence Pasquier and its own brand Mianliao; Maikhanh and Laurence are Bali-based French designers and Jaclin is a former designer for Kenzo, Agnes B and Sonia Rykiel in Paris.