The ethics behind the process of batik production in particular and clothing in general has become a very personal issue for me since I first learned how to make batik in Jogja, Indonesia in 2010.
I have seen the erosion of ethnic culture and its handmade ancient arts and crafts, as all of it was swiftly being replaced by large-scale manufacturing. Along side this dissolution of culture, I have witnessed many injustices in the form of unlivable wages, lack of economic prospects, slave-like working conditions, none-existent health care, lack of educational opportunities for children and damage to the environment that the corporate clothing industry from the West has initiated and continues to propagate in Asia for its own financial gains. On my numerous visits, I have been shocked by the poverty of the people that I met Indonesia, India and Thailand. I was most pained to see that it is the women and children in these countries that always end up getting the short end of the stick.
Being a woman and a mother myself, this alarming and eye-opening experience has left a deep imprint in my heart and shaped the ethical principals and production practices of Sol Maleu:
1. I am committed to raising awareness about the abusive practices of the Western clothing industry and the human and environmental impact that the brand name corporations’ production policies have on our Earth, and millions of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
2. I am committed to handmaking my original batik designs without the use of print blocks and stencils, so that I can contribute my small share to keeping the incredible ancient art of batik alive.
3. I am committed to using dyes with minimal harmful environmental impact, conserving water and saving energy during the production process by curing and drying all pieces under the sun.
4. I am committed to keeping my production small, so that I can continue working with a small family-owned tailoring business in Indonesia, whom I know personally, and feel assured that their working conditions are safe. We collaborate closely on the production of my limited-edition collections and I compensate them fairly, based on their exceptional skills, quality of service and professionalism.
5. I am committed to creating original works of wearable art that can be enjoyed for years, and I am deliberately not competing with the frenzy of disposable fashion fads and trends.
Artist and Founder of Sol Maleu