From handloom fabrics to artisanal ceramics, Colombo has heaps to offer for shoppers – but it’s not always the easiest city to navigate for the uninitiated.
Keen for some retail therapy? Whether you’re shopping for yourself or buying gifts for a lucky someone, we’ve put together this list of our seven favourite shops in Colombo to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Stop by with your bags and you’re sure to stumble upon something special.
Colombo’s home to a burgeoning design scene, with a whole host of home-grown brands showcasing their work at Colombo Fashion Week. In recent years, there’s been a growing effort to stock pieces from up-and-coming designers in dedicated clothing stores. You’ll also find a number of independent outlets with fabulous homewares on their shelves – perfect for interior design fans.
Many of our top Colombo cafés also stock a range of products. Check out curated collections at KIKU, Café Kumbuk and Black Cat. If it’s books, children’s clothes or games, try Milk & Honey. Just along the road, Seed Café stocks foodstuffs and adjoins enchanting Prana Home, which has a whimsical shop of its own (where you’ll find wellness products and ethical fashion items).
The Design Collective
28, 6 Stratford Ave, Col 6
If you’re looking to be dazzled by magical gowns or intricately embroidered tops, start your day here. Set within Gandhara (which stocks superb furnishings and home decor), the Design Collective seeks to gather the best of Sri Lanka’s design scene under one roof. With everything from gowns to cute shorts, jewellery to shoes, this is a fantastic spot to stop at when you’re shopping for a special occasion. Look out for regular collection launches and events with designers, too. Open daily 10.00-19.00 (10.00-18.00 Sundays)
181 Dharmapala Mawatha, Col 7
This striking store – part of Colombo’s Academy of Design community – champions Sri Lankan artisans with its own collection of homeware, as well as stocking pieces by outstanding independent designers. Think hand-printed and embroidered cushions, throws and placemats, as well as cool clothing, ceramics and woven rattan products. There’s a small selection of books upstairs, alongside some thought-provoking artwork. You’ll struggle to leave without filling your bags with tea and incense, eyeing up shift dresses and tropical shirts, and inhaling the scent of soothing candles. Open daily 10.00-19.00
704 Galle Road, Col 3
The creation of celebrated artist Barbara Sansoni, Barefoot has become a Colombo landmark, with its brightly-coloured flags waving in the Galle Road breeze. This is a classic stop, with two floors jam-packed full of fabric pieces, as well as a courtyard café and a gallery showcasing contemporary artwork. Expect to pick up lengths of bright material for home furnishing projects, vibrant tableware, stunning sarees, fun children’s toys, books and much, much more. Barefoot has long focused on training women in workshops across the island to make gorgeous handloom items for fair wages, and their enduring popularity is well-deserved. They also have small shops in Colombo’s Dutch Hospital and the historic Galle Fort down south. Open daily 10.00-19.00 (11.00-18.00 Sundays)
50 Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Col 3
Fashion Market LK is a fantastic clothes shop, with all sorts of funky collections from Sri Lankan designers. Expect cool, contemporary outfits for both men and women downstairs – tops, shorts, jumpsuits and swish dresses – and elegant silk or handloom sarees on the first floor. One for fashion-conscious Colombo-dwellers and visitors. Open daily 10.00-19.00
14 Philip Gunewardena Mawatha, Col 7
Brimming with quirky and creative homeware, Pendi is a brilliant boutique to pick up presents for friends and family – or to nab something stylish for your own home. Highlights include eye-catching batik cushion covers, plus equally arresting rugs, mugs, lampshades and plant pots. There’s also a cracking collection of cards, candles and printed pouches. The team offer a bespoke interior design service and can make furniture to order – perfect if you’ve just moved in (or you’re happy to ship something home). Open daily 10.00-18.00
209 Dharmapala Mawatha, Col 7
Created by Shanth Fernando, Paradise Road is a Colombo institution. The flagship store, edged with latticework and perched just opposite Viharamahadevi Park, is a must-visit if you’re on the hunt for sophisticated homeware. The brand’s distinctively daubed two-tone crockery can be found in boutique hotels and stylish homes across the island. The store also stocks attractive art, textiles and smaller homewares which work well as gifts. The vibe is smart and subdued, with statement pieces intended to last for years. You’ll find larger furniture just across the courtyard. There’s also a little shop at Paradise Road Gallery Café, the group’s chic eatery – housed in what was once architect Geoffrey Bawa’s Colombo 03 office. Or for the full Paradise Road experience, nab a room at Tintagel, a historic residence on the other side of the park. Open daily 10.00-19.00
41 Horton Place, Col 7
A hip clothing store curated by Annika Fernando, the daughter of Paradise Road’s famous founder, PR has a trendy, forward-thinking feel, with eclectic pieces from Sri Lankan and Indian-based brands. There is a small men’s section, but the collection is predominantly for women: jewellery, sandals, batik dresses and statement jackets. PR’s own MAUS swimsuits are a highlight. Open daily 10.00-18.00