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Tailoring -

BALI has come a long way since the days when Kuta's bamboo and gaslight 'losmen' sold barong T-shirts and batik drawstring cotton trousers to hippie world travelers.

In the last five years especially, Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak have become major centers for shops and boutiques selling chic and sophisticated Euro-fashions. Southern Bali is now one of the best places in south-east Asia to buy the latest continental, smart city clothes, industrial-fashion designs, and contemporary beachwear.

Many internationally recognized European designers-Milo, Itang Yunasz-have teamed up with Balinese designers and nimble-fingered Balinese garment workers. You'll also find collections from such high-end imported labels as Gigli, Gaultier, Doc Martens and Palladium. Literally hundreds of clothes shops line Kuta/Legian's main road (Jalan Legian), as well as the roads running between Kuta/Legian and the beach.

Fashions made for domestic and foreign tourists may also be bought at boutiques in the major hotels. These shops tend to stock a lot of high-fashion batik clothing. Designers on Bali shy away from the wildly mixed colors favored by the Balinese and limit combinations to varying shades of one or two colors in a single pattern.

Smaller shops and markets offer better bargains in simpler styles. Be careful when buying unbelievably inexpensive pants, blouses, shirts, T-shirts, and jackets for sale in the shops along the main drags of the beach resorts or sold by peddlers on the beach. These garments are often overruns, defects, and seconds.

This is why you find so many flaws in the workmanship-button holes not lined up, mismatched dye lots, bad stitching, wrong size, sleeves too long or too short, label wrong (says large when it's really small). Much of the material is cheap rayon. Check every piece.

Several shops sell sequined bodices, tops, hats, and purses. Have a good giggle but be careful of buying loud and radical clothing you will probably never wear back home. Also be wary of those flimsy white and black plastic zippers. Balinese G-strings are flimsy but lots of fun.

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