Barefoot is an iconic destination; you haven’t truly visited Colombo if you haven’t popped by. This much-loved brand has two outposts in the capital: a shop in Colombo’s Fort area and a buzzing Galle Road concept store that spans a shop, gallery, bookshop and courtyard café. (The latter dishes up prime people-watching, as well as relaxed snacks and salads.) Barefoot was founded by artist and designer Barbara Sansoni, who was born in Kandy and brought up in Sri Lanka (back when it was known as Ceylon) and Southern India. Having always drawn and painted as a child, inspired by the vibrant colours and cultures around her, Barbara began working with fabrics in the Sixties. She discovered a passion and talent for weaving, and travelled all around Sri Lanka to source inspiration for her designs. Barbara opened her first shop, House, in Colombo’s Fort area; a second shop, Barefoot opened at the Galle Face Court in the late 1960s. Here, Barbara debuted her first, smash-hit clothing collection.
Visitors to Colombo’s arterial Galle Road outpost can browse an enticing array of hand-woven fabrics in a rainbow array of hues: pick from beautiful bed and table linen, relaxed contemporary clothing, slouchy sarongs, gem-bright bags and more. You can also admire covetable crafts sourced from all around the island: painted wooden objects, ornate jewellery, Dumbara cushions, candle stands, stools, boxes and so on. While away an hour or two in the on-site bookshop, which stars a specialist selection of Sri Lankan literature, with titles spanning art, architecture, photography, fiction, self-help, travel and more. There’s also a gallery that serves as a platform for artists, musicians, poets, and filmmakers. Browse the current exhibitions and pick up a print or postcard for the folks back home, before heading outside to the Garden Café. Quench your thirst with a pot of tea or an icy lime soda; throw in a black-pork curry if you’re peckish. PS For another hit of Barefoot, swing by Galle’s outpost on Pedlar Street.