Pijakbumi is an Indonesia-based sustainable footwear startup founded in 2016 with a vision of redefining fashion as a consciously sustainable and eco-friendly choice. The footwear startup, which is recognised for its use of vegetable-tanned leather as the material of choice for the design and production of their shoes, was also recently selected to be part of the third batch for Indonesian unicorn company Gojek’s accelerator program, Gojek Xcelerate. Pijakbumi, which translates roughly to footsteps of the earth in the local Indonesian language, is an apt name for the eco-friendly footwear startup that wants to change how consumers view and purchase their shoes. Their effort is a timely one as the vast majority of leather shoes are made through chemical processes that can bring harm to both the environment and to humans themselves.
Pijakbumi was established by Rowland Asfales with a mission of creating sustainable shoes that are not just environmental-friendly, but are also fashionable and comfortable to wear as well. The startup’s shoes are all made from natural leather that are tanned with plant extracts. The notable plant used in the production of their shoes is kenaf, which is cultivated across the world for its fibre. Kenaf fibre, of which there are two types, consists of an outer layer called the bast fiber, and a finer fiber in the stem’s core. The fibre is used in the production of paper, rope and coarse cloth. However, it is a flexible material that is also used in engineered wood, liquid and oil absorbents, and soilless potting mixes. More recently, the renowned automobile manufacturers BMW and Ford have used kenaf fibre in the manufacturing of their cars in an effort to create more sustainable vehicles.
According to Pijakbumi, kenaf is a plant that emits at least eight times more oxygen than trees, and is woven into threads for the making of their shoes. Therefore, the startup’s shoes do not produce any sort of hazardous waste material that can harm the environment. Additionally, shoes that are made from kenaf can change their colors overtime. As an example, a Pijakbumi shoe may change from its initial light brown color to a darker tone as it becomes worn more and more. The startup notes that this is possible because their shoes are not made through chemical processes, which can also bring harm to the environment.
What’s more, the startup claims that their shoes are entirely handmade by local artisans, from the pattern, assembling to the finishing. The only difference is the use of foot sewing machines because the startup believes that their use in the manufacturing process is more eco-friendly. Rowland Asfales also noted that the startup is able to reduce the usage of glues by as much as 60% during the assembling process, thus ensuring that there are no harmful chemicals used during the process.
The eco-friendly footwear startup is now seeking to spread its name abroad. Rowland Asfales said that there is demand for sustainable shoes in overseas markets, as evidenced by the fact that Pijakbumi first sold its shoes to Germans and Spaniards. Moving forward, the sustainable footwear startup Pijakbumi will leverage on the Gojek Xcelerate accelerator program to gain more experience and insight into penetrating both the local and international markets.