There has been a thought rattling around inside the Mega-Dome (my ample sized head) for a while now, that there must be many small, local, artisan brands all over the world, making quality apparel and accessories, who do not get the attention which their craftsmanship deserves.
This idea unsettles me every time I view forums, and grew when I first started to conceptualise the next round of the Heavyweight Denim Contest, finally driving me into action when I (quite by accident) came across a brand whose products simply amazed me, but more on that in a later article.
Journey To The Brave New World
I harbour a few beliefs about the world of quality denim and apparel, on the positive side I believe that there has never been a better range of quality product than there is right now, I believe that the consumer has never been so educated as they are now, and I believe that some of the major brands in this market genuinely strive to improve their product year after year.
However, I do have a couple of negative beliefs as well. I believe that the “major” labels dominate the market to an extent that it is now much harder for smaller labels to make an impression in the market, and I believe that there is an element of bias against quality goods made in certain parts of the world, when surely quality is quality irrespective of origin.
A Path To Indonesia
Though I have been aware for a long time about the large denim scene in Indonesia, I was amazed by the reception given to Giles and Paula of Iron Heart UK on their visit earlier this year when they were treated like denim celebrities.
The denim and quality apparel scene in Indonesia is possibly (big claim here) the most vibrant in the world currently, and I think that this vibrancy and enthusiasm needs to be brought to the rest of us.
To match this rapidly expanding scene, Indonesia has quite a range of home produced brands using materials and techniques both traditional and cutting edge. I have taken a close look at brands like Elhaus and their range of traditionally produced, modern designed menswear. Their lines are clean, their denim is woven specifically for them in a weight range of 13oz to the upcoming 20oz, and their vision and ethos are fresh.
I am also excited by brands like Bluesville, who use traditional manufacturing with natural dyes and contemporary cuts. There are footwear brands like Maine St and Chevalier, whose products are simply beautiful, there are leatherware and accessories companies such as Voyej, Harah from Malaysia, and the already well known and well respected Obbigood of Singapore. Of course there is also Red Cloud and Co, concrete proof that “Made in China” can and should be a badge of honour for Chinese artisan manufacturers.
Over a series of articles here on Heddels, I will take the opportunity to habe a closer look at some of these brands, not just from Indonesia but also from other parts of the world. I will talk to some of the people involved in these brands, and hopefully spread some light on what the future holds for what I believe will be a rapidly changing market for educated consumers.