Singaporean fell in love with batik in Bali
When one buys a batik-lined wallet or bag from Mr Darshan Kadam's label, Oakmoon Crafts, they are indirectly supporting craftsmen from Java, Indonesia.
These craftsmen make batik by hand, a process that can take up to a year for complex designs.
The cloth is gathered by Indonesian batik artist Bu Dewi during her week-long expeditions to different regions in the country. She also makes her own versions at her home studio in Ubud, Bali.
It is from her that Mr Kadam, a Singaporean based in Bali, Indonesia, gets his batik.
The 26-year-old met Ms Dewi a year ago through a mutual friend as he was trying to source for affordable and authentic batik. The batik that Mr Kadam had seen at craft markets were either mass produced and cheap or too expensive.
Ms Dewi was happy to help.
He says: "By working with her, not only do I get to select from a vast variety of batik, but I also get to support her and the people she sources it from."
Oakmoon Crafts, which Mr Kadam launched online this February, has made-to-order leather goods, such as bags and wallets, combined with batik and a handwoven patterned textile called ikat tenun. About 70 per cent of what he makes are customised orders.
Mr Kadam, who was a student at Lasalle College of the Arts, chose to incorporate batik into his designs as he likes traditional motifs and thought it would make his leather products stand out.
He prefers batik with a simple motif and muted colours over those with a more complicated design. He says: "It might look fine as a sarong, but when I scale it down to fit my leather products, I think about whether the pattern is too big and if the scale of it is balanced."
Although the label's sales and customer base have been increasing, Mr Kadam says he needs to supplement his income with freelance design work.
He moved to Bali with his girlfriend about 11/2 years ago. He was then a second-year student studying graphic design at Lasalle College of the Arts.
He remembers feeling constantly "stuck" creatively and craved a change of scenery.
The couple stayed in Ubud for a few months before moving to Canggu, where they have been based for a year. His girlfriend, who is Indonesian, has a tarot card-reading business.
Although Mr Kadam first encountered batik in Singapore, he fell in love with it only when he came across more vibrant varieties in Bali.
"The T-shirts sold in Singapore use mainly inland batik and I didn't really like the earthy colours and its dense design," he says. "But when I moved to Bali, I was exposed to a much wider range of batik and I really like the vibrant and lively colours and patterns of coastal batik."
He adds: "I think batik is an undervalued art. To make batik, they have to hand-draw the design with wax before they dye it and they have to repeat the process for every colour.
"There's a lot of dedication in making it."
Fun, contemporary batik pieces
iPhone Flip Wallet, $85, from Oakmoon Crafts, www.oakmooncrafts.com
This phone flip case fits an iPhone 7 and is made of genuine leather. It is lined with batik and has three card slots and one money slot.
Utama pants, $179, from Baju by Oniatta, available from Sunday at En Pointe boutique at 735 North Bridge Road
These long pants with a front skirt-overlay are made with two different pieces of batik. Pair with a loose top for casual occasions or belt up with an obi sash to highlight your waist.
Puspa clutch, $41.90 (original price $55.90), Gypsied, www.shopgypsied.com
This clutch with a puspa print, meant to symbolise the jasmine flower, is dyed using natural dye. The 29.21 x 29.21cm foldover clutch is big enough to hold an iPad.
African Batik Orange Jute Purse, US$24 (S$33.80), Girl With A Radio Mind, www.girlwitharadiomind.etsy.com