The Yak goes one on one…
…with long time Bali-resident, creator of fashion brand 3RDBORN and businessman,
David Eagles from Easytees.
So David, how many years have you been in Bali and what brought you here in the first place?
I was a graphic Artist for Quiksilver Surfwear and had the opportunity to travel from Australia to help Quiksilver Bali with their Art Department in the early nineties. I loved the attitude and easy-going nature of my work colleagues. I asked Quiksilver if I could relocate to Bali and work part-time so I could focus on my own personal artwork. They agreed, and I relocated full-time in 1997.
Would you class yourself as one of the first people to create a surf fashion brand on the island? What was the name of that brand?
No, I certainly was not one of the first to make a surf brand in Bali. The surf industry was thriving in the 90s and, after a couple of years at Quiksilver Bali, I decided to leave and focus on 3rdborn, my own brand. 3rdborn was more of a street/urban brand, focusing on men’s printed T-shirts. Although starting a brand was not easy, we managed to sell to retailers in New York, Tokyo, Australia and eventually had three retail stores in Bali. I learned a lot about garment production and the fashion industry in those ten years.
As a Bali veteran, what would you say – both positive and negative – has changed on Bali over the time you have been here?
I still love so much about Bali and its culture, however I think everyone will agree that the traffic is one a low points! Eighteen years ago I was producing 3rdborn in Berawa – Canggu, it was very unlikely to see any foreigners in that area at all!
Yes, there have been changes, but I feel Australia has probably had more development in the last 25 years than Bali. My wife is Balinese and I love the Balinese culture, I love that the Balinese, and all Indonesians, love to have a good laugh and don’t take themselves too seriously. I’m never bored in Bali; there is always something crazy or unexpected happening, and it keeps me on my toes.
As a surfer who is also in the fashion world, what do you see as your obligations and your responsibilities – as a brand and as a person?
Having manufactured 3rdborn in Bali for over ten years, I had been to almost every dye-house and batik factory in Bali, I’ve seen the rivers turn red with dye. Since 2010 we have not dyed any fabric in Bali, instead we have sourced the best dye factories in Java, ones that have multi-million dollar wastewater systems. And we utilize the latest dying technology that uses 70% less water and dye. I’m a surfer and I don’t want to destroy what I enjoy. My passion is trying to find the lowest impact manufacturing we can.
Tell us more about your current two brands and the move into more sustainable fabric and more eco-conscious offerings.
In 2010 we changed our focus from 3rdborn and started T-shirt manufacturing for individual clients under the name Easytees. At that time my family and I had a foundation called Keep Bali Clean, we made anti-littering TV commercials and we were guest speakers in schools all over Bali. Now, with so many fantastic NGOs in Bali working with waste management, we decided to change our focus and look at producing more eco garments. We have managed to move 90% of our T-shirt production to use organic cotton, and our polyester production uses recycled PET plastic bottles. We understand the garment industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet, so our focus at Easytees is to try to make some positive changes in this industry. We recycle our waste where possible, and we don’t offer fashion techniques or items that we know are harmful to the planet.
The Bespoke Store offers small batch production? How small is small and who are currently your clients?
When the world went mad with Covid, I developed a new online business called (The Bespoke Store). The Bespoke Store is a website and is now also a physical store on Batubolong Street in Canggu. The store and website give clients the ability to custom design their own T-shirt, board shorts or swimwear. It’s really fun, you can upload a picture of your dog, or your mate, and turn it into a one-off, custom pair of board shorts. The board shorts are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and are of the same quality as international surf brands. We make shorts for small kids through to adults. The T-shirts are all 100% organic cotton, super nice and soft, you can add a print and we can deliver the next day. You can also buy blank T-shirts and shorts for the person that isn’t into branding.
(If English is not your first language “Bespoke” means Custom-made!) www.thebespokesotre.com
Your factory is very much not the sweat-shop that other brands are possibly still clinging to. The team is buzzing with positivity and is all smiles. To what do you owe this upbeat attitude?
It takes years to bring a good team together. We have people come and go, but mostly the team we have now are long-term. I think my staff might say I’m a little crazy, but I hope it’s in a good way. I’ve never lost my temper at my staff, and I don’t belittle them. We try to improve things as best we can. After 25 years in Bali I have a reasonably good understanding of the cultural differences here. I left Australia at 27, so I’ve spent more time working in Indonesia, and experience makes a huge difference.
Tell us a bit more about Easytees, the other arm to your manufacturing business?
Easytees did not happen overnight, I did not arrive in Bali with a pocket full of cash. I started designing T-shirt graphics for the surf industry back in 1987 as a teenager. From there I spent ten years at Quiksilver as a graphic artist and ten more years with my brand, 3rdborn. Easytees has now been running for over 12 years, it’s an evolution of what I have always done. We started in a Kos – simple room – in Kuta, then moved to an empty warung – eating-house – then to a house and to a Ruko – shop-house. Eventually we had the capital to build our current factory, and I believe this is the most complete factory in Bali. We produce basic fashion, sportswear, swimwear, gym gear and many different T-shirts. We have screen-printing and sublimation, both in-house, and we offer graphic design services if needed.
I see you are big into helping charities with their merchandise. What are your current pet charity projects? And can you tell us a bit more about each of them?
As I ran my own environmental campaign for many years, I met most of the NGOs here in Bali. There are so many great campaigns that I can’t name them all here, but I love what Sungai Watch, Bye Bye Plastic Bags and Green Books are doing to make a difference here on Bali, and the on planet. It’s going to take years to reduce the litter and pollution just here on Bali, if we all just did a little to help, we would all see the difference. The above-mentioned foundations/charities lead by example, and over the years I’ve seen their mission and vision catch on like wildfire.
As a father and surfer, what is your hope for the future of Bali and Indonesia?
Can we push “pause” on the development machine, please?
And lastly, could you share three improvements that you would like to see on Bali?
- All the loud motorcycles are collected and turned into an artificial reef.
- Instagram models are issued with Ericsson mobile phones on arrival.
- Single-use plastic drink bottles and cups are banned.
David, thank you for your time and the tour of your fab factory!