With the word sustainability becoming a buzzword in the last few years and into the new decade, sometimes I can’t help but feel that we are being watched closely for the choices we make in terms of the textiles we create with, the artisans we work with or the designs we put out each year.
Drowning out the noise can be challenging as we stay true to ourselves and keep at the work that we believe in. So I have learned to carve out time to create in quiet — a significant part of our process in 2019.
Last year, we put out four collections of bags made with hand drawn batik (View the Nusantara, Saujana, Jendela and Maharaja collections) and a small capsule of apparel made with hand stamped batik and hand screen batik. In between, there were experiments with new textiles and prototypes of new designs. No matter how much we try to streamline the creative process, many iterations are needed before we release anything.
The learning continues as we understand the limitations behind the different ways of making heritage textiles and how this in turn informs the work we do. Making the effort to meet artisans and being on ground opens our eyes to their very different realities.
It may seem antithesis to the nature of business because in that world, time is money. Yet I have found that empathy is the recipe to having a meaningful endeavour. There is so much we can learn if we simply spend time listening.
Batik makers in Indonesia are beginning to embrace the hand screen technique (as pictured above), adopted from European textile methods. What does this mean for the conservation of heritage in Southeast Asia?
As we continue to explore more textiles in the region, design new collections and try new ways of thinking, I am expecting a steep learning curve again.
Till then, seek to listen. What you hear might open a new world.