Hunting for leather goods in Manding, Yogyakarta

Upon entering one of the many stores selling a variety of leather goods in Manding village in Bantul, around 13 kilometers from Yogyakarta's downtown, I found an interesting sign saying, "Warning: These are not Italian bags." These stores, around 40 in total, lining the rural area of Jl. Wahidin Sudirohusodo, a road easily accessed from the route connecting Parangtritis Beach and Yogyakarta, indeed do not sell Italian-made products. The merchants at the Manding leather handicraft center started out as saddle makers. But in the 1970s, they began to create leather products for fashion, such as jackets, bags, shoes, sandals and various accessories. The leather they use to make these items is from cows, sheep and goats. Nowadays, leather goods have become a home industry in Manding village and visitors can easily find workshops in the locals' homes. The price of Manding leather goods range according to quality, while a leather bag in one store can be offered at Rp 350,000 (US$29) it could be up to Rp 1 million in another store. The quality of the leather product is determined by the tanning, the neatness, the strength of stitching, as well as coloring techniques. Not all leather craftsmen in Manding have the ability to make high quality leather goods. But luckily for the more experienced craftsmen, they can sell their products at a higher price, as well as exporting their goods to European markets such as Spain and the Netherlands. Men will also enjoy shopping in Manding as the leather center is a haven for men's shoes, especially boots. The good quality of the leather and strong stitching make Manding boots reliable enough for outdoor use. Shopping for accessories is also popular in Manding. Items such as key fobs, wallets, belts and cowboy-style hats can be bought for prices starting from Rp 25,000. Unlike in shopping malls, visitors can try bargaining with the merchants in Manding. The stores are all adjacent to each other, making store-hopping to compare goods and prices easy. There are also several tourist attractions nearby, so Manding offers a great option to look for souvenirs after visiting those places.

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