Designer Clothing Outlet in Sanur, Bali.

This post is about a special clothing designer store in Sanur Bali, but it is also my tribute to Sarina, a modern Balinese woman, who is full of beans. She is humourous, intelligent, worldly and an assertive feminist. The real Bali reveals itself through continued conversation and friendships made over the years and I enjoy re-visiting Sarina annually.

A trip to Sanur, Bali would not be complete without a few visits to Sarina’s shop. Sarina is a qualified dressmaker, producing designer clothes, mostly in classic styles in good quality fabric. She is an exporter, but also keeps a range in her little shop. Her stock comes in a vast size range from size 8 to 22. Over the last 7 years I’ve bought a variety of plain coloured tops from Sarina. They wash well a never pill or shrink and wear so well. I’m still have pieces from five years ago.

The beautiful Sarina, designer and tailor.

This is a most un-Balinese shop. Sarina doesn’t really stock typical Balinese holiday wear, her clothes are not tropical. She doesn’t negotiate on the price, but nor does she haggle or insist that you buy anything. Her display is not very appealing, with huge bags stacked around the room; her shop doubles as her warehouse. She specialises in heavier cotton fabrics more suitable for Melbourne or Paris, useful classic casual clothing, mostly tops and bottoms rather than dresses. There are a few frivolous, blingy multi- coloured pieces but most people who know about this secret designer store will be hunting down her plain coloured classic skirts and tops. She doesn’t need to spruke or promote her wares, relying on repeat customers and word of mouth. I was introduced to Sarina by a good friend: last year I introduced some friends and family. This is how it works.

The prices in Sarina’s store are fixed and a good deal more expensive than what she calls ‘Bali shit,’ the cheap mass- produced little dresses that are commonly seen throughout Bali. A good sleeveless top might cost around AU$13 or so, a little more for skirts and cardigans. You can also buy Sarina’s tops in Williamstown ( a suburb in Melbourne) for over $50, so her prices are comparatively very reasonable. It’s a good opportunity to stock up on some useful layers.

Popular combo. I bought the sleeveless top and tend to stick to her very good black range.

Once you decide to try a few things on, you must submit yourself to Sarina who will fit and dress you before you get a chance to look in the mirror. A good tailor knows how things should sit: she will adjust the shoulders, and has a distaste for clothes that pull and stretch over the body. She will assess your size the moment you walk in the door. I usually ask her what’s new for the year, and she will begin dragging tops from big bags for me to try on. The experience is delightful and funny: you simply tell her what colours and styles you like and out they come. Accompanying males can sit on a chair inside and watch the show, or are seated outside in the market lane under a tree.

Aladdin’s cave.

Once the commerce is over, I like to return to see Sarina for an occasional chat. As a feminist, she has very strong views about work, and raising daughters in Bali. She is independent, having worked to buy her own house. It is customary for young Balinese married women to live with their in-laws. Sarina travelled the world accompanied by her (then) young daughter, and through her hard work, has paid for her daughter’s university education. She cuts fabric from 6 am, then travels by motorbike to her Sindhu shop by 12 pm to open the shop, and returns home in the evening. After dinner at 9 pm, she still has more work to complete. Midst all this, Sarina, like all Balinese, attends to Hindu ceremony and ritual. Sometimes she arrives in her boyish loose jeans and checked shirts: at other times she is sarong clad, and ready for ceremony. Now at 58 years old, she is beginning to feel the strain of a hard working life and I can certainly relate to this. She is a human dynamo, agile, talkative, energetic and hilariously funny. I admire her greatly.

Sarina arranging her striped ‘tummy sucky’ skirt with a very handy classic sleeveless top.

If you’re in Sanur, brave the walk down the narrow gang full of shops that make up Sindhu market, politely ignoring the many touts along the way, until you find shop number 19. Tell her I sent you. Ask for the latest designer sleeveless tops which come in black, teal and dark red, her cotton cardigans, striped long line tops and her ‘sucky tummy range’ of skirts and leggings. The title says it all.

Also see my earlier post on Sarina’s shop, written in 2015.

  • Sarina’s shop, No 19, Sindhu Beach Market, Sanur, Bali
  • Prices are fixed and are very reasonable for such good quality.
  • Don’t go too early as Sarina works at home all morning. After 12 is best.

14 thoughts on “Designer Clothing Outlet in Sanur, Bali.”

  1. What a great post Francesca. I never buy clothes in Bali (or anywhere else really) but could be tempted, the next time we visit. The photo of Sarina surrounded by the plastic bags is a classic Balinese scene. No matter what you are after, it’s in a plastic bag somewhere and can always be found at a moments notice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fiona, so ice to hear from you. Sarina’s clothes are sensible and long lasting, which is a good thing for those of us who find it hard to buy clothes and just want sensible long lasting pieces.

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  2. Well, this is an interesting address to put aside in a safe place even tho’ I still have to make it to Bali! I have lived in classic pants and layered tops all my life and methinks Sarina’s offerings would be very welcome . . . another reason to visit the island at last and you have given me a few . . . *smile* Way back when I think I was the only first-nighter at opera and ballet in Sydney who wore a classic men’s dinner suit of the Alan Ladd version: with long blonde hair quite, quite sexy I was told . . . thanks . . .

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  3. It felt like I was drowning in a sea of ‘Bali shit’ clothes when we lived in Darwin 35 years ago. There was hardly anything else. A lot of people dressed in sarongs too. I found sarongs hot, and finally gave up trying to buy decent quality clothes in Darwin and saved shopping for when we traveled. Sarina’s creations would have been very much welcomed, and would still be, I’m sure. She sounds delightful.

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    1. Sarina is a hard working woman, self made, independent, modern and so I felt i should do another little ‘promotion’ for her, in the hope that travellers in Bali might read it and pop in there. Her beautifully cut clothing would probably be too hot for Darwin in most seasons.
      I must admit, Mr T and I are partial to sarong wearing in the mornings before we get into our day clothes.
      Yes, Darwin 35 years ago would have been enjoying a hippy traveller sarong fashion era. I wonder if things are still like that up there. Haven’t visited Darwin for more than 12 years.

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      1. There are a few sarongs in Darwin but some decent clothing shops now, even a fabric and clothing designer named Anna Reynolds who has a unique shop in town that I am looking forward to visiting. I think the problem with most clothes is the fabric they are made of doesn’t ‘breathe’ the way cotton does and there was very little cotton back in those days.

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        1. It’s true that most sarongs are a cotton- rayon mix. The plus side is that they dry in a few minutes in the breeze. I am rather partial to linen trousers these days for travel wear. Still looking for lighter pure cotton tops that breathe for tropical holiday wear. Must check out Anna Reynolds, thanks for the tip Ardys.

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  4. So good that Sarina and her shop are still there. I love shops where there are experienced staff who rather than pushing clothes happily help me select, and dress in, garb that suits me… I am a hopeless clothes shopper. Normally Bonds online and opshops are enough but for special occasions I have to seek out expert help. I’d love a Sarina.

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    1. I’m like you Dale. I find shopping for clothes a real pain and end up with the same things and in the same colour. Sarina makes me try on things and dresses me- it is quite enjoyable once you let yourself go.

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