Interview – Aradea Respati co-founder Voyej – part 1
Similar to the rise of raw denim, leather goods increased in popularity in the last few years. Leather manufactories are popping up like mushrooms all over the world. Also in Indonesia there was an explosion when it comes to small leather brands. Most of the starting brands are very small and focus on the local market. Voyej, on the other hand, kept growing and gained in popularity in Asia, as well as in Europe and in the USA. Out of curiosity we’ve reached out to these guys and just after Selvedge Run we had the chance to have a word with them.
My name is Aradea Respati. I am 28 years old and I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. When I was in college I studied Business Marketing at a business school. During this study, I met four other denim-minded guys. We did our final project together, and this project was basically the start of Voyej leather. Nowadays I am one of the 5 co-founders and Marketing Director of Voyej Leather Goods.
Robin Denim: Can you please describe the start of Voyej Leather Goods?
Aradea Respati: From about 2009 raw denim gained popularity in Indonesia, and many, mostly young people, started their own denim brand. When Jakarta was flooded with ‘Indie’ denim brands, we decided not to sink into this hype. In 2010 we came up with the idea to start a leather good brand, since we already knew leather has been the best companion for denim for many years. At that time, there were not that many leather good brands, especially when it comes to vegetable tanned leather. In February, when the preparations were finished, we started our web store, so that can be marked as the beginning of Voyej.
Robin Denim: What were the original dreams to start with?
Aradea Respati: It is actually very simple, we really love leather goods. The reason why we love leather accessories so much is because they’re high on functionality and they will last for years of daily use. Another important reason is that we like to see the process from scratch to a highly crafted construction. Everything we design is made from the best material possible and made by skilled artisans in Central Java.
Robin Denim: Where are the HQ located and where does the production take place?
Aradea Respati: Our HQ are located in one of the most crowded cities in the world.. Jakarta. At our HQ we do the designing, branding, marketing and all other creative stuff. We work here with 11 people, including the 5 co-founders. We entrusted our production to our partner in Yogyakarta in central Java since the beginning in 2011. This region is known for their high quality craftsmanship. This production site is owned by a Japanese company, but operated by Indonesian skilled artisans. Many Japanese brands, including Studio D’Artisan, used to make their products in this workshop.
Robin Denim: Can you describe the production process?
Aradea Respati: We source leather material with the highest quality possible from the USA, and for a selected collection we also use quality vegetable tanned leather from Indonesia. Once the leather has arrived there will be a measurement and quality check before the hides will be parted into different patterns for various goods. If the leather needs to be reprocessed into a different colourway, we use the ‘drum-dyeing’ method with a special dye, wax and oil until it will meet our specific requirement. Trimming, skiving and ironing processes take place in order to prep the leather before it will go into the stitching process. Most products are stitched by hand using ‘artificial sinew’ yarn. This is special waxed yarn made of polyester fibre. When the product is assembled, all the edges are burnished to give them the clean polished look.
The next step is another quality check to make sure that all of the products will adhere to our standards. After the quality check the products will be packed and then it will be ready to ship at any time.
Robin Denim: How do you select your leather?
Aradea Respati: We source our vegetable tanned leather at major tanneries in the USA. Besides that, we also select quality leather from well-known tanneries such as Chahin, Horween and Hermann-Oak for selected collections. During the sourcing we look for that reddish color tone, great texture, shape ( low on waste area, usually around the edges), and that nice leather smell. Our expectations have to be met on all those points.
Robin Denim: What kind of leather do you use besides vegetable tanned leather?
Aradea Respati: Besides vegetable tanned leather we prefer to use ‘pull-up’ leather. Pull-up leather contains a good amount of wax and oil so the leather will withstand rough environment and harsh weather. Horween is famous for pull-up leather with their Chromexcel, Cavalier and Dublin line-up.
Hermann-Oak Leather is one of the best tanneries when looking for vegetable tanned leather. This tannery has been around since 1881, so the quality is unquestionable. On some occasions we like to use Shell Cordovan leather. This kind of leather is made from the fibrous flat muscle beneath the hide on the rump of a horse. It takes approximately 6 months to produce the leather, so it’s quite expensive.
You can find more about Voyej on their website.