We’ve come across Asian labels like Matter Prints that celebrate traditional craftsmanship, but we’ve not seen one that interprets ordinary, everyday items you see in Asian culture into cool designs – until now.

Five-year old brand Pu Bu Me Su (the words are a play on its founder’s name, which means ‘Princess Flower May’ in Bahasa Indonesia) specialises in handcrafted leather bags with a traditional touch. Its aim: To design a bag that could fit every woman’s essentials any time, anywhere. Indonesian designer Putri Bunga Meita Soediono, a graduate of Cordwainers at the London College of Fashion (she specialised in Fashion Accessories), had previously honed her craft at eyewear brand Linda Farrow before striking out on her own.

pu bu me su leather bags
The handcrafted pieces are made of 100% tanned cowhide leather that are locally sourced from the island of Java. Prices range from $210-$790.

After a two-year hiatus, the brand returns this year with a range of handbags that recently debuted at hip multi-concept store Gallery & Co. (#01-05 National Gallery). Entitled The Market Collection, the brand introduces a circular top handle (above, right), a hat box (above, left) and rectangular pouches (below), all of which bear designs that closely resemble banana leaves and tempeh (fermented soya bean).

A combination of banana leaf and tempeh motifs act as the key design inspirations for The Market Collection.

How the bags were made: Putri worked relentlessly with a team of leather craftsmen to create strips of leather stamped with straight lines to emulate their natural textures. Through a tedious process of layering and stitching, the intricately-designed accessories are made to appear as if they are wrapped in banana leaves.

The fish and banana-inspired print fans in leather are made by a wayang kulit maker in Indonesia. Prices range from $65-$120.

Besides bags, Soediono has also liberally applied other typical Asian representations, like shopping for fresh fish and fruit at the market, onto handy accessories like printed fans. The technique used to make these fans comes from the age-old Javanese tradition of creating leather shadow puppets for wayang kulit (a form of shadow puppet theare). Here, cattle hide skin was sanded down till they became hard, and handpainted to represent items like tuna and banana bunches.


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