Samui Wining & Dining
Original Options
Taking in the best of Samui shopping at Chaweng’s Chandra Exotic Fashion Boutiques.

 

Original OptionsSome people just have the best jobs. Living on Samui and running your own original fashion boutique is enough of a dream come true for most. But add to that getting to travel all over Asia, picking out the best fashion items to bring home and include in your own unique shop style – and it’s fair to say that the owners of Chandra have it better than most.

 

Chandra is the name of two boutiques on the main Chaweng Beach Road, Chandra L beside the popular Irish pub, Tropical Murphy’s, and Chandra LL, a bit further up the road beside the entrance to the TOPS supermarket and opposite the Via Vai Italian restaurant. Both boutiques are run and owned by Israeli designers, Dana and Barak, who’ve been open on the island for almost nine years. And they sell items that you’re not going to be able to find anywhere else.

 

Dana and Barak travel all over Asia sourcing items for both branches of Chandra, buying things that catch their eye and that capture the mood of the boutiques as well as working with trusted merchants in the countries they visit. A large part of the Chandra collection also consists of pieces personally designed by Dana and Barak themselves, meaning that you really will be guaranteed an original fashion piece.

 

“We buy carefully selected pieces as well as designing our own,” Dana explains in the colourful and welcoming Chandra LL. “It makes the shop more interesting as it reflects our own taste and gives such a wide variety that anyone coming in can find something they like. When we’re travelling, we have merchants we buy from regularly but we also find things just by walking down the street and having something catch our eye. The designs can be Italian, Japanese, Balinese, Brazilian, French ... from anywhere in the world. But we never take anything that isn’t exactly for us – that isn’t exactly Chandra.”

 

So what is ‘exactly Chandra’? Even a quick glance at the boutique gives a sense of its unique style, with a mix of clothes, bags, scarves, sandals, swimwear, belts, accessories and jewellery all tastefully laid out in a way that just goes together. There are colourful bikinis, stylish leather bags, draping dresses, chunky and elegant jewellery ... you could put together an original outfit here in no time at all.

 

“If I had to define our collection, I’d say we go for colourful, feminine and beautiful items that really make a statement,” Dana says. “The pieces are so personal to us that they’re unique and unusual and are something that can't be imitated. We aim to provide for women of around 25 and up who want to create their own style and who don’t want to buy in shops that only provide for ‘perfect’ bodies. And the things we sell are half the price of similar items in Europe. We have many overseas customers who come back to us year after year and who tell us people ask them at home where they got their clothes rom whenever they’re wearing something bought from Chandra. But we aim to sell to everyone on the island, too – locals and long-term residents as well as tourists. The uniqueness of Chandra is that our items can be worn anywhere in the world – they have international appeal.”

 

The idea of being able to wear Chandra clothes anywhere is also a big part of the business ethos, Dana adds. “A lot of the clothes that people buy on Samui look fine on Chaweng Beach but look out of place at home,” she says. “We aim to sell clothes that are versatile, colourful and of good enough quality to still wear even after you’ve left the island – teaming one of our beach dresses with jeans and a Chandra belt, for example. We mainly work with natural fibres – silk is a favourite – and it means anything bought from us will last and look good anywhere.”

 

Dana and Barak update the Chandra collection approximately every six months, so if you do visit Samui once a year you can always be sure of something new and unique to bring back home with you, whilst if you’re living here you know that no-one else on Samui is wearing the same outfit. Their latest collection has recently arrived and a photoshoot was made in Maenam at W Retreat, a high-end luxury resort, which Dana says was the perfect backdrop to Chandra’s range.

 

“We were very pleased to team up with W Retreat for the photoshoot, as their aim – luxury yet also hip – is something we think also sums up Chandra,” she says. “W is quality and 5 star but not in a classic sense; it’s more about being individual and with plenty of style. And it was a very fun shoot to do, with the invaluable help of their Director of Sales & Marketing, Christian Humbert. W has an policy of ‘whatever, whenever’, meaning that you the customer can have whatever you want, whenever you want it, and we certainly felt that on the shoot. It was the perfect location for Chandra.”

 

Lisa Cunningham

 


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