From contemporary fashion to traditional handiwork, the Kingdom is know for refinement, elegance and quality
There’s no better place to indulge a shopping addiction than Thailand. With plenty of boutique malls and niche shopping centres carrying designer jewellery, clothes, crafts or anything else you might be looking for, the Land of Smiles presents a unique opportunity for travellers to combine business with pleasure. You can attend client meetings and then kick back for a few extra days of spa treatments, shopping and dining in some of Asia’s 50 best restaurants. The word is quickly spreading about Bangkok as a versatile escape, where you can recharge your batteries however you desire – by getting pampered or partying the night away. Here are some recommendations on how to spend a few luxurious days in the City of Angels:
The Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SACICT)
Located on the left bank of the Chao Phya River at Chang-Yai Sub-district in Bang Sai, Ayutthaya Province, SACICT lies adjacent to the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Training Centre. The reason for its formation was in the Royal Decree of the Establishment of the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand BE 2546 (2003):
“Thai folk arts and crafts are handiworks with the values and the tradition of originality and refinement of Thai craftsmanship. It is, therefore, rational for the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Training Centre with the cooperation of public and private sectors to establish the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand with an aim to promote, support and develop Thai folk arts and crafts as well as to expand their markets domestically and internationally. The Centre should be run independently and flexibly in order to facilitate the preservation and the development of Thai artistic heritage towards local and international appreciation.”
The Innovative Crafts Gallery displays innovative products with advanced craftsmanship and designs based on traditional Thai handicrafts. All products are the result of various projects SACICT collaborates with locals in to develop trendy products and introduce new designs to traditional craftsmanship. These projects take into account craftspeople’s skills, current trends and market demands. The projects improve skills and elevate the standard of the works to international level.
The first section exhibits master works of Thai goldsmiths, with secular gold objects, gold ornaments, religious gold objects and items finished with gold leaves. Another section of the gallery exhibits rare and valuable textiles from SACICT. These garments represent the richness of ethnic textile culture in terms of designs, techniques and materials. This part of the gallery also illustrates national costumes developed by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit for Thai women. The Hall of Fame is a gallery housing the lives and works of master artisans, master craftsmen and their descendants in order to praise and to honour noteworthy individuals in Thai artistry. One of the major roles of the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand is to be the centre of Thai handicrafts and promote to the public the distinctive works of the honorees. www.sacict.net
Ready to Were
You can lose a lot of closet space by spending a few days shopping in Bangkok. Handiwork and embroidery have a long history in the Land of Smiles, and today that tradition is continued through the creative, inspired work of a new era of Thai women’s wear designers. Buying from them is not only indulgent, but an investment; these are garments of the highest quality and artistry, crafted to cherish for years to come. HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana unveils SIRIVANNAVARI and new collections, using simplicity to evoke tasteful elegance. One can always find something interesting and sophisticated in simplicity. The collection is available at the SIRIVANNAVARI boutique on the 1st floor of Siam Paragon. www.sirivannavari.com
Thailand’s most respected couture brand is probably Kai, created by designer Somchai “Kai” Kaewthong. Dubbed the Vera Wang of Thailand, his wedding gowns and cocktail dresses are always the epitome of elegance. Disaya also does eveningwear, but with more playful, dainty tones. Creative director Disaya Sorakraikitikul trained in showrooms in London and Paris, including some time with the one and only John Galliano. Besides ready-to-wear dresses, Disaya also sells lingerie and costume jewelry. The couture house of Kai also does fresh, elegant eveningwear, Kloset’s designs are over-the-top and theatrical. Designer Mollika Ruangkritya counts dolls and girly playthings among her inspirations. Her pieces are known to always be vibrant in colour and intricate in detail, with handicraft accents like lace nets, low gauge knits and ribbon tape.
Founded in 2011, Lovebird is one of the newest Thai brands to explode onto the scene, boasting cuts and shapes that are sexy and classic. Kem Issara’s brand is also fairly new, but already making history in Thai fashion. The New York-trained designer is known for sophisticated, contemporary pieces that translate flawlessly from day to night.
Sretsis’ overtly feminine outfits are all over Hollywood’s red carpet, and you may have even seen them on Beyonce and Katy Perry. Despite international success, the sister team behind Sretsis is still headquartered in Bangkok with shops in Gaysorn and Central Embassy. Mob F and It’s Happened to be a Closet are also good stores to check out if you’re looking for vintage pieces or to pick and choose from various Thai designers.
Bangkok’s also spoiled rotten with skilled tailors and seamstresses, who can create and alter any garment to perfection. Poem G Floor, Vvon Sugunnasil, Tailor on Ten and Narin Couture are all highly recommended.
SETTE is a contemporary Italian-style Jeweller imbued with the innate intricacies of Thai craftsmanship. Established in 2007, SETTE infuses Fine Jewellery masterpieces into a ‘ready to wear’ concept, with articles of grandeur that are both luxurious and colorful yet priced affordably. Peacock a Pavone Collection features a peacock feather motif encircled by diamonds. Dangling conterpieces of either cabochon Amethyst, Lemon Quatz, or London Blue Topas add to the drama. Sette Boutique, M Floor (North Wing), Siam Paragon
Jewelry Trade Centre
This is Thailand’s premiere location for buying and selling jewellery and gemstones, with more than 300 reputable dealers on site. Dealings are controlled very closely, to ensure guests never need to be worried about scamming – there is always a seven-day full refund policy and personal shopping assistants are available upon request. In this 59-storey skyscraper near the river, you’re sure to find designer jewellery and rare items at a price and quality that is simply unbeatable; remember Thailand is famous for its gem industry. The Jewelry Trade Centre building is also home to Bangkok Art Galleria, where fine art from around Southeast Asia can be found, and Bangkok Fashion Outlet, filled with designer apparel and home décor for just a fraction of the original price.
Emquartier together with Emporium and a new mall to be called EmSphere, will form the EM District – a new world-class commercial and tourist hub in the heart of Bangkok. Bangkok’s newest mall. It houses more than 10 venues and halls so far, and the locals are definitely excited about the range of brands available: luxury designers like Jimmy Choo and Valentino, high-end regional favourites like Mugendai (Japan) and Stylenanda (Korea) and affordable labels like H&M and Uniqlo.
After some serious retail therapy, you can always hit the Emquarter Gourmet Market that promises artisan foods from around the world or hang out in the Quartier Water Garden, a beautiful tropical garden with Asia’s highest man-made waterfall, Quartier Falls. For a proper dining experience stroll along the Helix, a gentle path that slopes uphill climbing climbs five floors in a spiral with restaurants and cafes on either side – recreating the European outdoor, café culture but in air-conditioned environs.
Right across from EmQuartier, is another longstanding upscale mall known as Emporium. It’s got all the luxury mainstays like Gucci, Prada and so on, but what makes it special is its classy food court, cafés and high end restaurants. Guests can choose from food stalls serving Thai, Arabic, Korean, Indian and Vietnamese, or its luxury theatre SF Cinema.
If you’re looking for outfits that will impress friends back home, Central Embassy is your first stop. It’s home to exclusive Thai designer brands like Sretsis (loved by Hollywood stars) Ponystone (loved by Thai stars), Chavana gemstone jewellery and more. All the international favourites are here too, Isabel Marant, Roberto Cavalli, Saint Laurent, Louboutin, Miu Miu and so on. You can take a break from shopping with a cooking class at Issaya Cooking Studio or homemade ice cream makers like Tropical Monkey or Supanniga.