Victoria’s Top 10
Listed below are my top picks for places to shop that promote outstanding Sri Lankan design and/or support excellence in Sri Lankan artisanal textiles and craft. An unabashedly personal list, I have focused on designers and stores where I have first-hand knowledge of their operations.
Urban Island stocks the very best of Sri Lankan design. This includes Urban Island branded giftware, ceramics and textiles, and a carefully selected range of local brands, all with a modern tropical aesthetic. Urban Island opened its flagship store in Colombo in September 2018, but its origins date back to 2013 when it was created to help market craft made by artisans in Northern Sri Lanka. And it has fair-trade status.
What I love: Urban Island’s regularly evolving homeware collection, combining the skills of great talented designers with skilled artisans is stunning. Ask to see items made from dumbara weaving which is unique to Sri Lanka.
181 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7 (Flagship store)
506 Peradeniya Road, Kandy
Urban Island at Shangri-La Hambantota
Fashion Market LK
FMLK - a sister brand to Urban Island - recent opened a fabulous new store. It carries a beautiful range of handmade saris, as well as large line of clothing from young Sri Lankan designers with new items being added regularly. Isuru Liyanage, an upcoming young designer, heads the Fashion Market team.
What I love: Clothing that incorporates traditional Sri Lankan motifs and handcraft into modern silhouettes.
Shop online at or visit No 50 Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 7 (Greenpath). Other stockists include Urban Island, 181 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7
Barefoot stocks a wide range of “designed and made in Sri Lanka” items - including giftware, sarongs, clothing and tableware - in vibrant island colours. Barefoot is the undisputed pioneer of handloom and craft revival in Sri Lanka. It was founded by arts maven Barbara Sansoni in the 1960s, and is now run by her son Dominic (a brilliant photographer).
What I love: Barbara Sansoni’s signature designs - a national treasure.
704 Galle Rd, Colombo 3 (Flagship store) Dutch Hospital, Fort Colombo 1
41 Pedlar Street, Galle Fort
Selyn Handlooms produces and stocks clothing, homeware, toys and table and bedlinen made from handloom cotton. Selyn employs over 1000 skilled weavers, has fair-trade status and is working to become a zero waste operation. Selyna Peris, who has taken over day to day operations from her mother Sandra, is a leader in promoting sustainable fashion and heritage craft.
What I love: Visiting Selyn’s weaving operations in Kurunagela and seeing the fabulous work they do (you can book a tour through their website).
105 Fife Road, Colombo 5 (Flagship store)
195 Colombo Road, Kurunegala
300 Lewis Place, Negombo
71/1 Temple Street, Kandy (adjacent to the Temple of the Tooth) Gimahala Hotel, Dambulla
L’Atelier Touche is the place to go for elegant and chic clothing and accessories that are beautifully made and have a European sensibility. “Designed and made in Sri Lanka" by founders Catherine Obrenovic and Heidy Rampinelli, the exclusive L’Atelier Touche range is simply exquisite.
What I love: This stylish store is a destination in itself, and the service is second to none.
504 R.A de Mel Mawatha, 2nd floor, Colombo 3
THE DESIGN COLLECTIVE
THE DESIGN COLLECTIVE
The Design Collective showcases fashion and jewelry designers primarily from Sri Lanka, but also elsewhere in region. Beautifully housed in an old colonial building, the Design Collective is testament to the talent and diversity of the local design community.
What I love: Talking with Design Collective founder Shahili Gomes whose passion for great design is infectious.
28 Stratford Ave, Colombo 5
Paradise Road homeware, giftware and crockery is instantly recognisable by its trademark black and white palette and minimalist design. Established in 1987 by design icon Shanth Fernando, the Paradise Road group now consists retail outlets, boutique hotels, art gallery and restaurant. The most recent addition is PR, a fashion and accessory house, run by daughter Annika Fernando. PR has its own brand Maus in addition to Sri Lankan and regional designers.
What I love: Paradise Road hand-painted ceramics: fabulous and functional.
213 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7 (Flagship store)
2019 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7 (Collection)
2 Alfred House Road, Colombo 3 (Gallery and Cafe)
Sonali is a gifted artist who creates exceptionally beautiful pieces of wearable art in batik (a heritage craft in Sri Lanka). Her lyrical designs, exquisite palette, and beautifully cut and finished garments set her apart.
What I love: Everything. Sonali’s pieces are timeless, beautiful, and a delight to wear.
Stocked at PR Fashion, 41 Horton Place, Colombo 7
Buddhi Batiks carries sarees, clothing and accessories in a vibrant kalediscope of colours. It is a family-owned workshop and business operating since 1970, with a strong focus passing heritage skills from older artisans to the new generation. Creative Director Dashi Keerthisena (daughter of founders Buddhi and Ranasiri) is a vocal advocate of ethical fashion.
What I love: Buddhi’s beautiful colour palette is a joy.
32 Ward Place, Colombo 7
Also stocked at The Design Collective, 28 Stratford Ave, Colombo 5
This beautiful clothing and accessories store celebrates exquisite craftsmanship, weaves and textures. While much of Rithihi’s “wearable art” is sourced from India, we are including it in our Sri Lanka guide as Rithihi regularly exhibits and promotes the best of Sri Lankan handcraft.
What I love: We applaud Rithihi’s owner Valli Mohideen for her long-time advocacy for natural and sustainable dye, her support for great design, and her impeccable style.
19 Alfred House Gardens, Colombo 3