Just before COVID-19 hit, we had the opportunity to visit Indonesia and explore Java and Bali. Looking back now it feels almost like a dream. The busy streets of Yogyakarta, the ancient temples of Prambanan and Borobudur. The scooter rides in Ubud and the strolls through Tegallalang rice terraces. The sunset in Uluwatu and the expanse of the Indian Ocean. We often don't realize the significance of a place or a time until after the moment has past.
For nine months we have been sequestered, working from our home offices, couches, and kitchen tables. Things have slowed down into a repetition that at times feels like Groundhog's Day. All the while the country has faced one of its most intense and challenging years in decades and has had to answer some of the most pressing questions of our time.
Emerald of the Equator
During the pandemic, we returned to the drawing board and created our Indonesia Collection, called the Emerald of the Equator. We looked back at our journey remembering the moments that struck us most. We poured over photos, over the awesome places we explored, reminiscing the experiences, as well as the freedom to travel before social distancing.
As we created the designs, we aimed to capture the feeling of our journey as authentically as possible. With each design we aimed to give the feeling of serenity and peace, calmness and vitality. We aimed to reflect on the beauty of the islands, the volcanoes, the bright flora and fauna, the white beaches, and blue water. We sought to honor the essence of Indonesia’s diverse spirituality, the call to prayer, Wayang theater, rituals, temples, and symbols. And we tried to embody the warmth of the people, their warm and genuine smiles and ease of being.
7.9425° S, 112.9530° E
This design is named after Mount Bromo, an active volcano in East Java. Before dawn we traveled by Jeep to the base of Seruni viewpoint, then climbed our way to the lookout. As we waited, we sipped on coffee around a bonfire by an old, tin shack. When the first light broke, we stood amongst a small crowd of strangers, huddled together to keep warm as the blanket of clouds turned from blue to bright pink. From the horizon, Bromo emerged, proudly steaming, framed by the entire Tengger massif. The cloud pattern, which we captured in this design, is called mega mendung. It is a classic Indonesian motif inspired by Chinese iconography.
Indonesia + the Planet
Sitting at the drawing board, we wanted to honor Indonesia while staying true to our experience. As we began, we were left with a sense of humility in the face of Indonesia’s grandeur. Thinking about each place, we could not escape the fact that our images were connected deeply to the natural world, to the palm trees, to the coffee plantations, to the volcanoes, to the temples overgrown by more green fauna than one is likely to see in a lifetime, to the crystal blue water surrounding all 17,508 islands.
We knew that to create a shoe we were proud to share with the world, we had to consider the planet. We had to respect what the earth had given us, how she had permitted us to journey across her, to take from her, and to be apart of her. An Indonesia tradition called tedak siten honors the moment a child steps foot on the earth for the first time, blessing their journey in life. How could we, we wondered, create a shoe that could respect such interconnectedness?
Sustainability + Fashion
So we combed the earth and sea to find materials to pay homage to the archipelago we had grown to love. We discovered certified sustainable fabrics and threads, and developed outsoles made with repurposed plastic removed from the ocean. We decided that because it was possible there was no other way, and we decided that even if it cost more for these materials we would boldly take this route and do our part to be pioneers and stewards of the earth.
Working with master craftsmen in Spain, we developed a handmade shoe of exceptional quality and detail. We focused on style, comfort, and durability, and crafted a shoe that would be both culturally inspired and consciously made, not only a representation of Indonesia but also a testament to the natural world. And so from the natural jute, to the recycled fabrics and outsoles, to the stories from Indonesia, we refined a Solana shoe one would be proud to wear.
This is the Emerald of the Equator.
8.5069° S, 115.2625° E
We chose to use the Om symbol for our Ubud design as it reminded us of our stay in this pleasant, spiritual town in the uplands of Bali. Outside nearly every home are stone shrines where offerings are made for spiritual merit or objectives. Many of these shrines are etched with the symbol Om, oftentimes painted in a bright yellow or gold. Walking around Ubud, there are also many shrines dedicated to Sang Hyang Widi, the One God in Balinese Hinduism.
Like all representations of Om, the meaning is derived from Sanskrit. The rishis, known as the "seers of thought" in the ancient Vedas, heard the vibration of Om when meditating on the sound of the Universe. This symbol and sound is often written and recited at the beginning and end of sacred texts and mantras, and it is believed to signify the reality of ultimate consciousness and the atman, the Hindu equivalent of the soul.