There’s many countries in the world who has a quite large production of quality welted footwear, yet still fly under the radar for most. One of these is Indonesia. In this article I go through a number of the interesting makers, of which a majority use hand welted construction, still with prices starting at below €200.
Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world, over 252 million people, spread out on the 13,000 islands that make the democratic republic. It was under Dutch helm until the 1940s, and it was the Dutch that introduced the making of welted shoes in the country, the center for the shoe industry in the country is located in the Cibaduyut region of Bandung, a few hours away from the capital Jakarta. This was one of the largest shoemaking regions in Asia back in the days. It’s much smaller today, but still a lot of knowledge is found in this area, and many younger people are building up a worldwide recognition again for their craft. Indonesian shoes offer a lot of bang for the buck, which is what they are known for. Prices listed in this article are the domestic ones, so if ordered abroad one have to calculate with potential customs etc.
One of the main players when it comes to welted footwear is Fortuna Shoes / Jalan Sriwayaja, the former is the actual company name, the latter is the name of the street the factory is based, sort of “Sriwayaja Street”, but it’s also the brand they use for the Japanese market (and some other Asian ones nowadays), where it’s very popular and sold in loads of stores around the country. Fortuna/Jln Sriwayaja’s shoes are hand welted (even though for Indonesian market they call it Goodyear, since it has a higher ring to it there than hand welted, which can be a but confusing), yet with the very affordable price tag of €170 on the domestic market, where mainly Indonesian calf leather is used. The range in Japan uses mainly European hides, and cost about €280 there. The style is classic, not that sleek but more of a casual touch on things. To buy their shoes from Europe or the US the best option is for example at South Korean store Unipair or at Global Rakuten.
The type of shoes has seen the most success for Indonesian brands are American style workwear boots. There’s a bunch of brands making stuff that looks amazing, which have gained a good reputation within this niche of quality shoes, a niche that especially in the US is huge today (see the Goodyear welt forum on Reddit for example, like 80% workwear boots with lots of activity). Many of these brands are good at using the new digital world, with nice Instagram pages (where many only take their orders from) and websites. In some cases, communication isn’t on top, one might have to be patient to get an order through, though generally it’s considered worth it.
Perhaps my favourite of the lot is Onderhoud, very well made, hand lasted, hand welted boots with classic workwear and military boot patterns, at an incredibly good price, from €230. They use various leathers, both domestic and imported from Europe and the US. Since they’ve been quite praised lately nowadays the waiting time for an order is relatively long, you order by contacting them on their Instagram, no website, and all is MTO.
Another brand making lovely, affordable workwear boots is the brand Txture. They have one of the best websites I’ve seen from any shoe brand really, with a nice shop for RTW shoes, MTO guide, awesome pictures, a good informative blog, etc. Me who aren’t a big fan of boots get very tempted of ordering a lot of the models found here, that’s how good things look. And at prices starting from only €185, with international shipping at €35, it’s hard not to take the plunge. Also worth mentioning, in most lasts they offer sizes from EU37 to 48, in three different widths.
Other Indonesian bootmakers worth mentioning are Sagara Bootmaker, one of the bigger ones, who also has a good website. They are starting at around €200. Santalum is a quite new brand, small and flexible, which you order from at their Instagram. Junkard focus on service boot styles, they have both RTW shop and MTO programme, and are considered excellent for the price, from €210 (although currently they run a sale so you can snag a pair from €170). Chevalier has been around for a while now, they were quite in vogue among boot nerds a couple of years ago, although a bit calmer now. Good prices, good make, leather quality can vary a bit, and they also make a bunch of different shoe models.
We’ll finish this close-up of the Indonesian welted shoe branch by looking at a more classic shoemaker, which makes some really delicious stuff. Winson Shoemaker is a small operation, who use good European leathers, and who both makes the American styled boots but nowadays moved more and more towards more elegant shoes inspired by Japanese bespoke shoemakers which they call the Grandeur line. These surely look way more expensive than the around €550 they cost. Order by contacting them on their Instagram.