A couple of things confuse me about the world of raw denim and work wear. Firstly, there is an assumption that if it is not made in Japan then it cannot be very good, even the USA suffers from this. Secondly, there are so many brands doing pretty much the same thing and a lot of genuflection going on around it. There is absolutely no argument from me that Japan has the highest concentration of the greatest brands in the market, but what else is out there, where else is getting in on this action?
Enter Indonesia, and arguably worlds youngest, most vibrant scene for denim, footwear and retro, repro garments in the world. Indonesia is blessed in many ways, and perhaps cursed in even more, it is blessed with a stunning amount of natural resources, and rich history of textile weaving, dyeing and manufacturing, there is an unbelievable amount of generational skill in shirt making, boot making and now a strong skill transference into denim and jeans manufacture. Indonesia is unfortunately also cursed with quite a divide between the rich and the poor, and many corrupt officials, who are more than willing to make some side money, holding back the business economy of the country.
Earlier this year we visited Jakarta, and met with a number of Indonesian brands, I am intimately familiar with most of the big brands out of Tokyo, Osaka and San Francisco, but what I saw in Jakarta shocked, amazed and thrilled me in equal measure, it was not at all what I expected.
We met with a young clothing brand called Elhaus, owned and operated by friends and business partners Raven and Eduardus. Elhaus are doing very exciting and experimental things with hand woven, heavyweight denim, the first in the world which is also left hand twill, we will be working with them to produce a collaboration jean made from this material which will be every denim nerds wet dream.
A much fatter me with Raven, Edo and J.
A much thinner me in the Elhaus USN coverall.
We also met with Sagara, a shoe and company of the highest standard, owned and operated by husband and wife team Bagus and Belda Satrio. Sagara only use hand stitching on EVERY part of their boots, they do not even own a machine of any description to bring automation to any part of the manufacturing process, which other shoe maker can say that? When I say that the boots produced by Sagara are the equal of American companies like Whites and Viberg, I am not in any way joking, they literally blew us away, and we will be working with Sagara to produce our own spec version of their beautifully designed Imperial boot.
The beautiful Sagara Imperial, coming soon to a web store near you.
Sagara take on the classic "Boondocker" boot, they call it the Combatant.
Indonesia's scene is rapidly expanding, and they have the potential and the skills to become a major player in this market. We think we have found some of the very best of their brands, but there are many more out there ready to step up into the international market. We will be back, and we will be watching.