Made In Bali

Published 27 November 2017   

Swimwear designs from Bondi Alchemist.

Bali is many things for many people – a destination for sun, sand, and surf. A destination for spirituality. And, in recent decades, a destination for manufacturing and design. From jewellery to home décor, swimwear to silver, there are countless products that begin their journey on the island before being dispatched to the four corners of the world.

Written by: ZIA AUSSUM

But why Bali? What is it about the island that inspires people to pour blood, sweat, and tears into bringing their ideas to life? For Jarra Campbell, Founder and Creative Director of the Bondi Alchemist, a line of luxury sustainable swimwear for surfers and beach babes, it was the energy of the island and, of course, the surf. “There’s an energy here that seems to encourage freedom and creativity. There are so many people pursuing their dreams and just going for it, no matter how tough it gets. I fell in love with that vibe, in and out of the water. I created the Bondi Alchemist to answer the insatiable siren call from the ocean that pulls at my heart, to celebrate all the awesome women in the surf, and to give back to the local people.”

Surf and sales are up for Bondi Alchemist.

Jewellery designer Christy Feaver tells a similar tale, “My first trip to Bali in 2002 reignited my passion for design.” That passion is apparent in the raw textured statement pieces of her signature collection, clearly inspired by nature and the changing face of the sea. “There is deep love and intention behind what I do, and Bali gives me that love. My pieces wouldn’t be what they are without the island.”

More designs from Christy Feaver.

Raw textured designs from Christy Feaver.

Of course, when we’re talking jewellery in Bali, there’s perhaps no name more famous than John Hardy. In 1975 the Canadian designer established his artisan collective on the island after being drawn in by the bountiful nature, talented locals, and rich culture that celebrated beauty in everyday life. Nearly half a century later, the company is no longer run by the eponymous founder, but, under the talented eye of Creative Designer, Hollie Bonneville, continues to create unique handcrafted pieces using time-honoured Balinese techniques, and preserving the rich heritage of the island in the process.

A John Hardy artisan weaves chain.

A John Hardy artisan designs a new piece.

Hollywood celebrities like Julianne Moore, Frieda Pinto, Zayn Malik, and Cara Delevingne have all been spotted wearing John Hardy designs – the perfect match for the red carpet thanks to their dramatic proportion and sophisticated craftsmanship. In fact, it’s that craftsmanship that draws so many entrepreneurs to manufacture on Bali in the first place.

“I did sample runs in a handful of other countries including China and Sri Lanka, but nothing beat the quality I could get in Bali,” Campbell says. “I have the ability to visit my factory regularly and say hello to the workers, checking in to see that they’re happy and being treated well.”

John Hardy finished weaved chain designs.

As fast fashion and its sometimes adverse consequences come under more and more scrutiny, there’s something to be said for having an eye on the entire production line, from start to finish. Maybe, in the end, it’s this complete circle that attracts so many people to set up shop here, a kind of virtual Venn diagram where inspiration, sustainability, and community converge, giving rise to products that spread Bali’s beauty far and wide, and giving back to a community that allows people the freedom to go for it in the first place.

the Bondi Alchemist,
Christy Feaver Modern Metalwork,
John Hardy,
Surf images:

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