Make-Up & Break-Up – Sheffield’s Hantu Collective re-imagine Valentines Day
Sheffield Unchained contributor Anouchka Santella meets Sheffield’s ethical clothing brand The Hantu Collective and finds out more about their Batik range photo-shoot for Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s day is not just about flowers and chocolate. Co-creator of Sheffield based Hantu Collective, Angga Kara, has decided to portray what he thinks February 14th is really about in a photoshoot for the brand’s new ethical jackets.
“Valentine’s day is not just about love, it’s also about ups and downs in a relationship. We were doing this shoot for our jackets and there was such a good chemistry between the boy and the girl who modelled that we just told them; ‘it’s break-up and make-up, so play!’ Now the photo-shoot tells a story!”
These atmospheric images, by Sheffield-based photographer Dominic Gregory, depict the concept of an unconventional Valentines. Hantu claims that not everybody recognises the perfect locations and sugary sweetness of love that we see in the movies.
“This is about real life, and how real people approach it. Think of high drama between lovers and friends, fights and break ups, and undeniably strong love. Relationships are not all the hearts and roses of Valentines day – the rockier course that love sometimes takes is just as important.”
The Hantu Collective, which started as a community project ten years ago, makes independent street wear sourced from suppliers who believe in ethical trade and justice for workers. Their t-shirts are printed locally using water based inks and hand finished by their design team in Sheffield.
How it all began
After spending a few years in Indonesia, Angga, 27, moved to Pitsmoor, which he describes as a place “where you used to hear fireworks every night to cover the sound of gun shots”.
Angga began to play basketball to meet the gangs and stay out of trouble and it was here that he met co-creator George Law. The 17-year-old boys challenged each other on the court before realising that they shared ideas which would later lead them into a business partnership.
The pair couldn’t have imagined that what started as a community project would turn into a real thriving business. After a few years apart, where George went off to study illustration and Angga computing, the two boys returned to a Sheffield struggling with the recession. So they decided that doing their own thing might be the only way to get a job.
“George wanted to be an artist, so we printed his artwork on t-shirts and used the clothes to showcase his artwork. Shortly after that we got a shop on Division Street.”
Angga describes the shop as an “amazing experience which offered a chance to meet the customers and find out what they want, which is important as a customisable brand.”
However, this experience ended when the person they were sharing the shop with moved to Thailand. By that time the pair were working from a studio based in S1 Artspace and had begun collaborating with people from outside of Sheffield.
Yorkshire Tee and the Batik campaign
Angga, who says he likes to be busy, started working on Yorkshire Tee, a garment print service, at the same time as developing the Hantu brand. He also left basketball for dance, giving classes in between other activities and during all of this, success soon came calling.
“Hantu is now sold in independent stores Moonko on Division Street, Collard Manson in Meadowhall, and in London as well. After spending a lot of time on Yorkshire Tee I recently stepped down from it and got into Hantu again.”
The first target for Hantu was the students, as is usually the case in a city like Sheffield. But the boys quickly realised that these were not the only people to target.
“We re-thought everything, and tried to target the creative type as well as the students, the artists.”
Now with their Batik campaign, which supports traditional Indonesian families and helps to preserve the Indonesian craft heritage, the collective is going to reach a whole new kind of person.
“The Batik range will be more expensive, so we might get older people. It will only be Indonesian patterns, and there will be some homeware as well. We still make everything in Sheffield but the fabric comes from Indonesia.”
Preserving Indonesian Spirit
Spirit. That’s what Hantu means, and you can see why the name fits.
“George is from Malaysia, and I’m from Indonesia. It’s really important to me to put the heritage of these countries in the brand.”
The Hantu ‘Spirit’ can be seen in Hantu’s Unity Coasters, which Angga was inspired to make after a visit to his ancestral home.
“My ancestors come from Jogjakarta Java, I went into the palace there last summer and saw the tiles on the floor. The pattern represents the unity between all the religions in Indonesia. That’s the same pattern as the one we used on the coasters. They’re unity coasters.”
After going back to Jogjakarta Java in August, Angga decided to show his journey through the Batik range of clothes.
“This trip made me feel so creative, I’ve felt so much energy ever since I got back.”
But Angga said the Batik campaign is about more than just clothes;
“Batik fabric has been around for thousands of years. Most people making them were farmers, each area has their own batik fabric. The goal of the campaign is to expose batik to the world again. It’s about preserving the heritage.”
That’s Hantu’s spirit.