The highlight of our last sourcing journey was the time we got to spend in Eheng Village on Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. We were graciously invited to stay and experience the beautiful culture and rhythms of Dayak life. Children walking to and from school, domesticated livestock, and adventures into nearby forest plots were all part of our stay.
We learned about the practical aspects of island life, such as how each rice plot is designated for use by a family and a rotation systems allow the land to lay fallow, keeping it fertile for many generations.
At one point, I spotted a young girl carrying a machete while walking with her friends from school. When I asked what it was for, she very matter-of-factly replied, “For clearing the way in the forest!”. From the way she so easily handled the blade, I could tell she really knew how to use that thing. A girl after my own heart!
Equally fascinating were the plants we found on the sourcing trip that we aim to incorporate into our designs.
Our Aspen Bag with Sea Grass Accents
Sea grass or “salt-water-grass” (not to be confused with sea grass that grows on the ocean floor) is a beautiful fibre from the rainforest. It grows on the riverbanks or estuary areas in brackish waters and the leaves can grow to be approximately 10 feet. These meadows are typically tended by local farmers who then harvest the materials. Once processed, the fibres are twisted or braided into various diameters for weaving. It's often mixed with other woven materials to create beautiful accents.
Bark cloth is a versatile material that was once common in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, and the Pacific. Bark cloth comes primarily from trees of the Moraceae family, including paper mulberry (broussonetia papyrifera), breadfruit (artocarpus altilis), banyan or banyan fig (ficus benghalensis), and the natal fig ficus natalensis.
Large banyan trees like this one can be a source of bark cloth
Bark cloth is made by stripping the trees of their bark in a way that doesn't kill the tree (making it a sustainable practice) and beating sodden strips of the fibrous inner bark of these trees into sheets. These sheets of leather-like material are then finished into a variety of items such as this bark cloth bag by Cinta Bumi Artisans.
You can find out more about bark cloth from our NGO partner NTFP (Non-Timber Forest Products)
Thank you for joining us on this epic journey to be introduced to some of the wonders of the forest. There’s plenty more to come as we explore ethical business practices, slow fashion, and deep dives into other sustainable fabrics and materials!