Born in Makassar, Indonesia and raised by his seamstress single mother, TOTON Januar developed a fascination with the artisanal aspect of design at a young age. He relocated to Jakarta, to study Media Broadcasting while working as a designer for one of Indonesia’s most prominent fashion designers. After studying fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York, TOTON was founded in 2012 with Haryo Balitar. In 2016 the brand won the Woolmark Asia Award in 2016 with a collaboration with artisans in West Java.
Januar and Balitar have always committed to work as much as possible with Indonesia’s local artisans and factories. This relationship between TOTON and these artisans directly affects their livelihoods. TOTON believes that the natural craftsmanship process which mostly uses organic materials has to be preserved to lessen the environ- mental damage caused by big factories and irresponsible use and waste of chemicals.
Since 2017 TOTON has been incorporating recycled and upcycled materials in its collection, with a crafts approach done by artisans in Indonesia. This is a small step toward being sustainable and kinder to the environment. They do not claim to be a ‘sustainable brand’ yet, acknowledging that they still have so much more to learn and do. Their goal is to work almost exclusively with local artisans and source everything locally with a green footprint. Their hope is to promote Indonesia’s heritage and culture to preserve customs and crafts for the next generation to inherit and evolve.