During his extensive travels Ruben Fernhout noticed Indonesian influences all over the world. That made him proud, since his own mother was born in Jakarta (then Batavia).
In his career as a producer/songwriter and performing artist in DJ collective The Partysquad he toured many countries, and was especially proud when he visited “Blauwgrond”, a residential area in Surinam, home to a vast amount of “Warungs” (restaurants) that Fernhout loves visiting.
Ruben is big fan of the Indonesian kitchen, so seeing and especially tasting the influences of that kitchen in Surinam dishes was very exciting to him. It seemed time created a beautiful mixture of flavours and cultures, just the way it did in Fernhout’s native country of The Netherlands. Not just in a culinary sense, also socially. Fernhout himself, being third generation Dutch-Indonesian, is an example of the “campur” (mix) that Holland is known for.
It’s exactly that blend of cultures that Fernhout also loves when it comes to materials en fabrics. He remembers the first time he saw African batik and noticed the resemblance with Indonesian folklore clothing. Both batik, yet also both with a very distinct cultural signature. He’s always admired the craft behind the batik styles, with it’s inspiring and clearly exotic prints. When asked what he likes about it so much, Fernhout admits it’s the same proces he witnessed with the culinary blending of flavours. Beautiful influences, cultures, flavoures and styles mixed together in a jar of modernisation, resulting in a unique product. Things evolving into something new, honoring the history and roots, but also finding a new path. “It’s the same with people”, Fernhout declares. “When two people from different cultures fall in love, that’s always the result of something positive, something beautiful... love without boundaries.
The birth of Masa Cinta Batik
Ruben Fernhout has always been fond of the batik style. Besides the fact that he liked the way it looked, the fabric also gave him a sense of belonging. It was the clothing of his roots. He wanted to wear it during his shows, and started looking for sizes and models that he was comfortable with.
Many of the traditional batik clothing was made in somewhat old fashioned fits. So six years ago Fernhout started working with a sewster in Bali, making batiks that were fit to wear during shows on stage. Not just for himself, but alsof or the other performing artists he worked with. When The Partysquad and Jillionaire (Major Lazor) wore batik during a huge festival show, the enthousiastic reactions poured in.
Fernhout and his team worked from the heart, and fans all over the world could sense the authenticity, apparantely. After a few posts of the gear on Mad Decent’s instagram feed, Fernhout noticed many comments from Indonesian fans, stating how proud it made them feel seeing ‘their’ batik worn by the artists they admired in front of huge crowds.
That’s when the requests started coming in; where do you buy this batik stuff? And all Fernhout could reply was that the batik clothing was custom made, just for the artists.
During a tour with M.I.A. the artist showed Fernhout a purse she aquired in Indonesia, that she absolutely adored. Ruben started to realise that he wasn’t alone in his love for batik. He started handing out samples to friends and colleagues, like Diplo that wore the gear during a several page photoshoot, A-Trak and DJ Snake, and everytime artists shared their batik gear, the comments exploded.
Because Fernhout is in Indonesia quite often these months to work on several Partysquad projects there, the time was right to take the next step. In between studio sessions, he worked with tailors and craftswomen to draw up a first collection. All of a sudden all those years that he perfected his own shirts, sweaters and coates, now seemed valuable learning material to start something bigger; Masa Cinta Batik.
Ruben is still researching the old methods of batik craftsmanship, but from the very first step he took in building his brand, sustainability has been a very important issue. The first collection is entirely made of existing fabrics, making it much more eco-friendly. So better for the environment, less expensive for the consumer, but also... the stiff traditional material is just not suitable for certain items, like hoodies and sweaters. So the sustainable route opens up all kind of modern opportunities, and Masa Cinta Batik is wrapped in sustainable material, and bamboo is used for the buttons.
Brandname Masa Cinta
As previously mentioned the brand was born out of love and passion, not so much an economical purpose. These are roaring times, and when the world is harsh, matters of the heart are needed.
Insiders called Ruben’s clothing batik from the future; batik dari masa depan. And those words and thoughts formed the foundation of the brand name; Masa Cinta, meaning the era of love.
The brand’s logo is a combination of Fernhout’s roots; the Indonesian garuda and the Dutch Lion, hoovering over a heart shaped diamond.
The lion has always played an intricate part in Ruben’s life. His love for Jamaican music music, Reggae and dancehall, has influenced many of the tracks he’s been responsible for. Like the work with Major Lazer, the EP Badman Rave, the EP The Highest Grade, and many more. The Lion is an important symbol in Jamaican culture.
A Mad Decent designer created the lion in The Partysquad logo, and also, dreadlocked, in the logo of label Rebel Yard.
Fun Fact: look closely to the lion’s skin and garuda’s feathers, and you’ll see the letters M.C!