If you think about “recycled hat”, you wouldn't think you’d want to wear it casually. But we stumbled upon a brand that dispels the notion that sustainable products are dull and expensive for the customer. Topiku offers sustainable hat products with cool designs at an affordable price.
Topiku was birthed from the idea of Monty Hasan’s desire to create products out of discarded items and repurposed landfill materials to promote sustainability awareness.
The idea for Topiku started in 2014 while volunteering in Jakarta at a non-profit organisation — XSProject. His main role was to improve the lives of the city's trash pickers and transform waste into new, functional goods. At that time, Monty worked with a community of trash-pickers, who lived in a slum, and he learned how to create value-added products out of the waste that they had collected. While working for XSProject, he proposed a new product: a hat made from upcycled car seat vinyl. Yet, the organisation rejected the idea.
But in 2015, Monty’s friend, Anthony, saw the feasibility of Monty’s idea of creating hats out of discarded materials after he saw the prototype in Monty's apartment. Anthony had the idea of funding the business through a Kickstarter campaign. Topiku’s Kickstarter campaign successfully raised $21,000 USD, more than the amount they were aiming for, which was $16,000 USD.
Monty established Topiku and aimed to create the world’s most sustainable snapback hats sourced entirely from upcycled and recycled items.
From Landfill Salvage to Hat
Topiku hats are each handcrafted from upcycled and recycled waste materials, salvaged from Indonesian landfills to highlight Indonesia’s ever-growing problem of waste management. For instance, Topiku works together with local trash pickers to salvage HDPE plastic buckets from the landfill, to reduce the carbon footprint of Topiku’s brim production. For the logo patch, the Topiku team collects leather scraps and offcuts from various leather producers in the neighbouring communities of Cibaduyut, Bandung.
For the fabric materials, Topiku partners with a manufacturer in Solo, Central Java, to collect their deadstock inventory, such as leftover, or over-ordered fabrics to get GOTS-certified organic cotton twills for the main base of Topiku hats.
And for the batik pattern hats, Topiku uses post-industrial batik scraps and deadstock fabric sourced from internationally renowned batik brand. That is why each pattern is extremely limited, and every hat is unique, rare, and the last of its batch. Topiku also uses upcycled aluminium soda cans for the buttons.
With Topiku, You Definitely Know Who Made Your Hat
Each hat is ethically made in Rahayu village in Cigondewah, Bandung. Topiku chose local home industries and works with the leader of the hat artisan community in the village and assign the work to different houses. This allows artisans to work from the comfort of their own home, participate in a closely-knit community, and provide them with a platform to share their craft through their specialised skills.
Monty, who always visits that hat-making community once every six weeks, extremely proud of the fact that Topiku’s products are not produced by sweatshop labour and empowers women in Rahayu village, with no pay gap between men and women artisans and equitable work opportunities.
Highlighting Good Causes in a Unique Way
Topiku eliminates the need for the energy to creates yarn, fabric, and dyeing production, reducing its carbon footprint by over 80% on the process. With good intention, careful calculation and seamless execution, Topiku shows that business can be sustainable and profitable at the same time.
There will always be challenges along the way for this business to sustain in the long run. However, making a positive impact on the environment and improving the livelihood of hat artisans of Rahayu village, these are the things that made each of Topiku's hat a great value.