Samui Wining & Dining
Clothes for the global traveller at Psylo.

Clothes for the global traveller at Psylo

As the seasons change so do the clothes, summer fades into autumn, autumn to winter, and we see thicker and thicker clothing as we say goodbye to the warmth of summer. At least that’s how it is in western countries. But here on Samui it seems we never say goodbye to the sun for long. The shops are always full of summer dresses, T-shirts, shorts, sandals. But walk past Psylo and you’ll immediately be struck by a huge difference. If it’s winter in London then it’s winter fashion in their store front display here on Samui. It’s a shop for global travellers, not tied to local climate – they might be headed anywhere. These are clothes to take home, to travel with, or to hike the trails of a long forgotten route with a local guide. But there’s a whole other concept along with the comfort, durability and individual design behind the clothes too. Psylo adheres to a philosophy of sustainable fashion or, as it is sometimes known, eco-fashion. The people behind it have a keen sense of social responsibility.


Established in 1999, by two friends and travellers, Psylo is a company with a strong commitment to the protection of the environment. Based in Bali, Indonesia, they have their own design studio and factory, with their own highly trained staff. As a socially responsible company, the needs of their workers in the factory are paramount, recognising that without their skill they would have no products to sell. Their workers are an ethnically diverse group, and as such all their religious holidays are observed and they are paid above-average salaries.


Clothes for the global traveller at PsyloTheir design studio is a converted wooden house in the rice fields of the Bali countryside. Surrounded by nature, you can see its influence upon the designers, Ami and Shoki, in the motifs of the clothes: lotus flowers, owls and ikat-style clouds. Recycling, or to be more precise, up-cycling is a key component of the design of their clothes. While maintaining a strong urban and tribal influence in the designs, they reuse their fabric scraps to create whole new outfits: dresses, comfortable pants and bags.


Take a look at the interior of their shop and you can see Psylo’s commitment to this protection of the environment. No metal rails or harsh down lights here. It’s all wood, and what’s more the majority of it is up-cycled. Picture frames that border their posters are all up-cycled wood. You’ll also see a huge mirror frame made from the old wooden tracks of an Indonesian railway line with the rivet holes still visible. Just imagining the history that went along those lines is a story in itself. And in their Chaweng Beach Road shop, an ornate carved wooden Indonesian doorway makes for a spectacular dressing room entrance.


History, in particular tribal and ancient history, plays a major role along with nature in the design of their clothes. Symbols from ancient cultures can be seen on many of their clothes, for example the Garuda, a birdlike beast of Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Other shirts feature religious symbols from around the world, as well as Pali verses. The design team works in collaboration with a number of artists from different countries to produce these motifs.


Clothes for the global traveller at PsyloMuch of Psylo’s production is handmade, from the meticulously hand- painted screen shirts to the incredible shoes and boots that are made by a single Indonesian family that have been making shoes for over a hundred years. The shoes are truly a work of art, taking months to make just one pair. Indeed everything in the shop is like a piece of fine art, from the handmade clothes, with their slanted cuts, off-centre necks and layered designs, to the Papua New Guinea face masks that adorn the walls, and the handmade brass chandeliers that hang from the ceilings in both the Chaweng Beach Road shop and the store in Central Festival.

Along the walls of both shops you will see the shots of the models in edgy, dark settings, in night clubs or abandoned places. An ideal backdrop to the raw urban feel of the clothes.


Psylo at present has four main locations worldwide, London, Bali, Samui and a newly opened store in Mexico. They also have a distribution centre in Toronto, Canada. But ask them if they have plans to open other stores, and despite their tremendous popularity and following among lovers of their fashion, it may come as a surprise to hear them say, no. But when you understand their philosophy it fits in perfectly; they don’t wish to become too big. They enjoy what they’re doing right now. Shops around the world can already order from them, and they have an internet business, and so their clothes and concepts can already reach a wider audience. They’re happy where they are, making their art and helping the environment in whatever ways they can. They use natural fabrics such as cotton and rayon modal as much as possible, though they do sometimes use some synthetic materials, such as spandex for strength and elasticity. They also use a filter system after dying their fabrics, passing the coloured water through this system before it enters the sewage system so as to decrease any environmental footprint left behind. Psylo is already introducing organic cotton into its collection but it’s expensive, though they hope to introduce more in the near future.


Described by Psylo’s art director and co-designer, Ami Ganiel as ‘ethno-punk clothing’, their clothes are about a lifestyle, the individual expressed through their clothing. Part of that concept is also an awareness of the environment and nature and the desire to protect the world around us for future global travellers. So when you leave Psylo with your purchase you won’t be handed a plastic bag. You’ll receive an environmentally friendly cotton bag. No plastic here!


 Natalie Hughes


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