Hang around raw denim for long enough and it’s inevitable to hear someone mention Indonesia. The climate–hot and humid on a cold day–juxtaposed against a fiercely passionate denim culture creates some of the most consistently impressive fade results, period. If you’re a regular reader of Heddels, you’ve seen more than your fair share of the work destroying denim in Southeast Asia. But how about constructing it?
We’ve featured a handful of different projects over the years. Previously, for instance, we spotlighted Folta Co. and Elhaus, both who have introduced some interesting and affordable options into the raw denim canon. We’ve also featured Pot Meets Pop and their lookbook. However, this by no means properly represents all that’s coming out of Indonesia. With that in mind, here are some more Indonesian brands doing denim proud. We may have mentioned them before, but we’re mentioning them again. Fans of any brands that weren’t mentioned should feel free to shout some love in the comments section.
Formed in 2012, Sage is inspired by the acquisition of wisdom – to see, travel and do as much as possible in life, resulting in a plethora of experience to draw upon. It’s an apt muse when you consider the way people treat their raw denim. We wear them hard and it is scarred into the fabric.
With this hard wear in mind, Sage does not screw around with their jeans. If you’re looking for heavy denim, three of their four current jeans are at least 17 Oz., with the 22 Oz. Marcher jean sourcing denim from Rampuya‘s Collect Mills. Each jean has its own distinct features as well, whether it’s the type of pocket bags, pen and pocket knife slots, Oni-esque big slub, selvedge line or thread color. Some consistently seen features are a mountain-inspired arctuate, felled seams, pocket tab, a belt loop hook and one of the more memorable leather patch designs (hand-stitched with waxed tendon thread).
Sage Denim runs between $100-170 right now, making it very affordable to check out. They also have a variety of tops, outerwear and accessories that are very competitively priced as well. Learn more on their website.
Over the past five years, Oldblue Co. has carved out an excellent reputation in Indonesia. With an ode to the workwear of yesteryear, Oldblue Co.’s philosophy is to make a good that can be worn everyday and handle the punishment. Their designs are consequently vintage inspired and can tread into repro territory.
What isn’t old fashioned is that they offer a lot of products. They have great variety in their fabric choices, fabric weights (12 – 21oz. pre-wash), dyeing methods, twill types, patch designs and collaborations. Basically, if you’ve seen a respected brand out of Japan or the U.S. try something different with their jeans, chances are you’ll find a similar option from Oldblue Co. or they’re working on it right now. It’s the type of openness that you can’t help but appreciate, and it extends to their other products as well.
These guys are a good example of what many denim start ups have been doing all across the world: source high quality denim from places like Okayama, Japan, acquire high quality leather and hardware and then wrap it all up on some classic sewing machines. Unfortunately, not much information about them continues to be the same problem we had when we found out about them a few years back.
Akaime doesn’t have an expansive lineup of jeans or other offerings, but their handful of styles feature all of the qualities that many a denim-head crave. We got our hands on a pair a couple of years back and our reviewer Sam gave them a thumbs up. Whether it’s slubby, unsanforized denim or smooth left hand twill, there’s something for everyone to experiment with. And as is the trend with these Indonesian brands, the prices are vastly lower.
You can find more about Akaime on their website.
This might be a brand only known to those in Southeast Asia, but back home they’ve got plenty of respect. These guys get bragging rights as one of the oldest brands on the list, but they still were only started back in 2009.
Unlike some of their fellow Indonesians, Esre Denim keeps things simple and minimalist, both in terms of style and product line. Currently they offer only two jean options: the black on black selvedge Nightfall in a straight cut and The Gilded, which features 18oz. Japanese selvedge that is proven to fade well. This is accompanied by a pair of khakis, t-shirts and simple button downs in a handful of colors.
The price point, at around 60% less than Japanese brands, make Esre a very tempting experiment for the shrewd consumer. The only problem, unfortunately, is they aren’t currently shipping to the US. For those outside of the US, you may want to inquire about your country as well. Otherwise, it’s proxy time. See the wares you can’t ship on their website.
Not going to lie to you. I’ve never seen Poo Denim in person. I’m afraid to handle it, or smell it for that matter. But how can a brand with such an attention-grabbing name not be included on the list?
Poo takes the the most casual approach to their style and draws the most from contemporary streetwear. So, in addition to your traditional denim, you’re going to see denim vests, jogger pants, tops, New Era-esque ball caps and more. Additionally, they are one of the only brands that focuses more equally on catering to both men and women.
They’re available from a variety of shops in Indonesia but they have little online footprint outside of a Twitter account, so you’ll have to get down and dirty if you want to find some Poo overseas.
Bluesville (Honorary Non-Denim Mention)
Unlike everyone else here, Bluesville doesn’t really focus on denim production. But they love their indigo just as much. Their designs can be likened to patchwork offerings of better-known brands like Soulive, Blue Blue Japan, and Kapital.
Their niche–all-natural dyestuffs. Natural indigo is obviously a given, but they’ll also dabble with mangosteen, persimmons, jengkol and others to meet all of their color needs. For those who stick to blues and earth colors, this will be right up your alley.
Find more on their website.
Cheese Denim Works (Honorary Malaysian Mention)
This is a list about Indonesian Denim brands, but we had to give some love to Cheese Denim; it’s located in Malaysia, right next to Indonesia in both geography and culture(if not in politics). Started around the same time as Oldblue Co., Cheese Denim Works takes a more casual approach to their style.
Rather than inspiration from workwear, their street style vibe is both irreverent and affordable. Who else had the gall to make a leather patch look like a wedge of cheese? Either way, we tip our hat to them, because they’ve stuck with it over the years. Of course for them the most important thing is the denim. After taking a look at some of the fades they’ve shown off, Cheese Denim seems to know their craft.
Find out more on their website.