Remember I blog about the Bata Shoe Singapore Spring Summer Preview earlier in March?
I was one of the four top voted bloggers who won a trip to Jakarta, Indonesia to visit one of the Bata factory in the region to see how their shoes are produced. The other three bloggers are William, Regina and Rita:
Me with my travel group, in front of the Bata Factory Store beside the factory itself
I was quite excited about this trip because I like visiting factories.
We take many of the things around us for granted. For every little object surrounding us, someone, somewhere has to design, produce and ship them to where we are. Take a pair of Bata shoes for example. They are pretty reasonably priced, usually under S$50 for non leather shoes. Where do they come from? Who made them? How did they arrive here in Singapore?
Like most of my peers, I grew up wearing Bata school shoes. For this trip, I got the rare opportunity to visit one of their factories myself and witness how Bata shoes are produced.
This is not a tourist-oriented showcase factory like the Nissin noodle factory I visited in Japan or the Nestle Caille chocolate factory in Switzerland – it is the real deal. Paying tourists won’t get to do this visit, which makes it all the more special.
I took lots of photos at the factory. You can see all of them in this public facebook album I posted. Here are some selected photo to narrate the shoe production processes:
I see the Indonesians are particular with auspicious numbers too
Bird’s eye view of one portion of the factory
Me, standing by the window overlooking the factory floor
Friendly bata staff at work
We met the factory manager in their boardroom
This is the best-selling shoes produced in this factory for the domestic market
Swanky Angry Birds’ shoes, produced for export
The guy with white hair is a management staff, going about his round for inspection
I took home a pair of these leather loafers – super comfortable
Machine to shape the loafers
Manualling pressing the leather pieces into shape
Cutting the leather
Closer look at the cutting of the leather
The sewing line
Close up of the sewing work
Glueing the in soles
The two head honchos in the factory
Inside the quality control (QC) room
A bata staff fixing a pair of shoes to one of the machine for testing
Soles stretching test
Borrrowing Obama’s catchphrase
Heating the soles
Cobbling the heated soles and shoes together
Adding final touches
Non-toxic water based adhesive is used in this bata factory. Hence there is no funky smell that gets you high.
Now we shift to another factory building where all the packing is done
Bright plastic recyclable boxes are used in packaging for the domestic market
Lots of lots of bata shoes, ready to be shipped out
Bata staff at work, packing shoes
White bata school shoes spotted
Machine for making Angry Bird shoes
Completed Angry Birds shoes
Hard at work clearing the waste in the factory
Spotted lots of these Indonesia best-selling bata shoes
Storeroom for rolls of leather
Another smaller production building
Colourful bata leather shoes
The factory is really huge and took us a while to move around
Welcome to the Bata factory
We move to the transportation building
Creative guy on a hammock
Loading of the boxes of shoes for transportation to local stores or for export
Inside the warehouse
All the shoes you need for multiple lifetimes
Crazy amount of shoes in the warehouse
Stock-taking to ensure all items are accounted for
I don’t think I can last a day doing this guy’s job
This station seems to be most difficult
William learing to glue a sole
Regina learning to apply glue to the shoes
Group shot with the factory manager before we head off
I love bata
Are you familiar with these brands sold in the Bata factory store?
Kids’ shoes and flip flops
Despite the low prices of Bata shoes, the factory I visited was not a sweatshop operation. The workers work in safe conditions and the factory managers told us the workers are all union protected.
Nonetheless, the work in the factory is still repetitive, manual labour. I definitely cannot imagine myself wearing a gas mask, working in the plastic shoes moulding section for even a day. I am too pampered in my day job as it is.
What I did takeaway from this trip is a good dose of humility and an appreciation for all the hard work and dedication others have to put in in another part of the world to present me with a pair of reasonably-priced, quality Bata shoes.
Group dinner with my travel group before heading back Singapore
Visiting a Bata shoe shop no longer feels the same way for me. I actually feel closer to the brand, after having done the factory tour! 🙂