Indonesians are rightfully proud of the long tradition of quality leather-working evinced by craftsmen and women labouring throughout the archipelago. In Surabaya, Verne is popular go-to option for those in the know looking for sublime and timeless leather goods.
Story by Barbara Hahijary
Photo by Verne Doc.
An interest in the outdoors forged a friendship between Edo Septyan, Ramzi Bawazier and Ridho Aryo Pratama when they were at Ciputra University in the East Javan capital. Along the way, the trio befriended some leather crafts workers at a factory in nearby Gresik. The three found out that their new friends were great in making leather goods, especially shoes and their thoughts soon turned to how to devise for the craftsmen and women employment that might have more flexible working hours.
Together, the trio and the crafts workers started to design and produce leather products in 2010. "We went through several periods of trial and error until Verne was established in 2011. We were into fixies [fixed-gear bicycles] at that time, hence our first product was the Karakum Messenger Bag," Edo said. It's still sold today.
The trio's firm, Verne, takes its name from Jules Verne, Edo says, adding that leather fashion and accessories remain a big part of the steampunk genre inspired in part by the 19th century French author's works.
Currently, the brand has about two-dozen designs named after cities that are related to outdoor activities or after wild plants. The aim is to highlight outdoor activities, which gives a masculine feel to the products, although the line-up is also female friendly.
Not long after Verne took off, it branched into smaller leather goods such as key chains, passport covers and coin purses. The products are hard to resist, as they are well-crafted and made with fine quality leather.
Other than to help their friends in the factory, the trio has focused on leather as its main design material due to its durability, low maintenance and timeless look. Verne offers classic bags, such as the Alpinum roll Top rucksack and Marrakech II Satchel Bag, along with sling bags and camera bags. All come in rustic leather colours, such as mahogany, terracotta and jet black. All the raw leather comes from Yogyakarta and is crafted by both hand and machine in the workshops in Gresik and Surabaya.
The brand has settled on young people as its main target market due to the ease of digital-based marketing. Verne ships products daily to major cities. "We are happy that our generation is proud of wearing local products and appreciates its quality," Edo said. "This is a trigger for us to provide better quality leather goods that can make us proud of our native craftsmanship."