Di­diet Maulana

De­signer and founder of ikat in­done­sia Di­diet Maulana tells gabriela Yose­fina about the turn­ing point in his life and the joys of em­pow­er­ing tra­di­tional ikat weavers

DA MAN - Style - - Contents -

The founder and de­signer of IKAT In­done­sia

afa­mous quote from John F. Kennedy reads, “Ask not what your coun­try can do for you, ask what you can do for your coun­try.” In a very style- con­scious way, Di­diet Maulana does pre­cisely that through his fash­ion brand Ikat In­done­sia. He rein­vents tra­di­tional tex­tiles and works them into in­trigu­ing pieces that are able to tran­si­tion smoothly into mod­ern men’s wardrobes. Through this process, he simultaneously em­pow­ers lo­cal weavers by ed­u­cat­ing them about trends while also voic­ing their strug­gles to the gov­ern­ment. En­ter­ing only his fourth year in the fash­ion business, he has al­ready dressed a hand­ful of prom­i­nent In­done­sian per­son­al­i­ties, from his muses Ni­cholas Sa­pu­tra, Mike Lewis and Iz­abel Jahja, to other celebri­ties—and most no­tably, the min­is­ters at­tend­ing 2013 APEC meet­ing. With both menswear and wom­enswear, Ikat In­done­sia has in­deed a very bright fu­ture with in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion and fur­ther tex­tile ex­plo­ration on the hori­zon. Gabriela Yose­fina: Hi Di­diet, Ikat In­done­sia’s rapid as­cen­sion has been truly cap­ti­vat­ing to watch. Did you ever en­vi­sion such suc­cess early on? Di­diet Maulana: Although I had pre­vi­ously been de­vel­op­ing a con­cept for women and men’s ready-towear lines, Ikat In­done­sia was first launched on July 29, 2011, with only a spring/sum­mer col­lec­tion for women. Hype and in­trigue were soon built around the col­lec­tion, thanks to the support from my in­ner cir­cle of friends; we also re­ceived very pos­i­tive re­sponses from the me­dia. Fol­low­ing this, the de­mand for full menswear pieces con­tin­ued to in­crease and so in early 2012, my team and I cre­ated a spe­cial col­lec­tion for men. In­done­sian ac­tor Ni­cholas Sa­pu­tra was my first muse for the men’s line. I think one fac­tor that con­tin­ues to drive the suc­cess of the menswear col­lec­tion is the fact that even though ikat clothes for men are abun­dant, none are par­tic­u­larly de­signed for young adults. There­fore, when I cre­ated cardi­gans, tank tops, shorts and fe­dora hat, it was a very fresh de­vel­op­ment that peo­ple wel­comed. For the first col­lec­tion, there was even a pair of moc­casins with tas­sels that were cre­ated from ikat. GY: Your back­ground is in ar­chi­tec­ture, so how did you end up in fash­ion? DM: De­spite hav­ing a pas­sion­ate in­ter­est in fash­ion, I didn’t have enough courage to take a ma­jor in fash­ion de­sign when study­ing. I don’t re­gret study­ing ar­chi­tec­ture though, be­cause I love draw­ing and tech­ni­cal de­sign, so ar­chi­tec­ture was a per­fect meet­ing point of the two. Nev­er­the­less, I have never ac­tu­ally worked as an ar­chi­tect; in­stead, I was in tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion and fash­ion re­tail for around ten years in to­tal. It was when I be­gan to han­dle the mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the fash­ion re­tailer I was work­ing for, when I touched the ikat tex­tile and watched a fash­ion show, that a light bulb went on in my head. I was in­stantly re­minded of my long-aban­doned life goal: to com­bine moder­nity and her­itage through fash­ion de­sign.

GY: Which life lessons helped in­form you in de­vel­op­ing your own brand to­day?

DM: From ar­chi­tec­ture, I had the mind­set that if you draw some­thing, you have to know how to build it. Life is not only about hav­ing a dream but also about know­ing how to trans­form that dream into a tan­gi­ble prod­uct that peo­ple can touch, use, or wear. Then, dur­ing my pre­vi­ous ten­ure at the fash­ion re­tail company, I learned about cre­at­ing a brand. To have a rep­utable brand, it takes solid team­work and dis­ci­pline. Also, de­tails mat­ter—from the story be­hind the col­lec­tion, to com­mu­ni­cat­ing with peo­ple, to un­der­stand­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics of Asian con­sumers.

GY: Out of all ma­te­ri­als avail­able, why did you choose ikat specif­i­cally?

DM: Sim­ply be­cause I see the po­ten­tial of ikat as an ex­otic ma­te­rial. Dur­ing the year 2010 to 2011, for in­stance, there was an in­creas­ing use of the tex­tile on in­ter­na­tional run­way col­lec­tions where they had sourced the fab­ric from Western Asia. Another ma­jor trig­ger for me was when batik, a fab­ric of In­done­sian her­itage, was claimed by another coun­try. It made me re­al­ize that I didn’t want to see In­done­sia’s younger gen­er­a­tion tak­ing what we have for granted. With ikat, I pre­dicted that it would be the next big thing after batik, so I de­cided to ex­plore it. The word “ikat” ac­tu­ally has a real sig­nif­i­cance be­cause in In­done­sian, the word means “to bind.” So it serves as a con­stant re­minder that I am bound to uti­liz­ing the tra­di­tional tex­tiles we have and com­mit my­self to pre­serv­ing lo­cal fash­ion.

GY: Do you find it chal­leng­ing, work­ing with ikat?

DM: Ini­tially I did, though I be­lieve I’m get­ting bet­ter at it! The fab­ric is quite thick and has quite a rough tex­ture; it’s un­like any other fab­ric I’ve worked with in the past. How­ever, I con­sider that its unique­ness. To high­light ikat’s one- of-a-kind qual­ity and take ad­van­tage of its char­ac­ter­is­tics, my de­signs mostly in­volve the use of struc­tural shapes. Ad­di­tion­ally, I col­lab­o­rate with the lo­cal weavers to cre­ate a “new ikat” that is softer than the usual fab­ric, by in­cor­po­rat­ing silk and cot­ton, as well as more di­verse color pal­ettes.

GY: Can you tell us more about your ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with the tra­di­tional weavers?

DM: To be­gin with, I worked with a lot of tra­di­tional weavers in Yo­gyakarta, Palem­bang, Klaten, Padang and Makassar. All of the weavers have sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics in that you have to be­come well ac­quainted with them first, to make them feel com­fort­able work­ing with you. There­fore, I treat them as more than just ven­dors; I in­ter­act with them as if they are my part­ners. Stay­ing with them for at least a week at a time, I try to max­i­mize the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­plore many pos­si­bil­i­ties to­gether with them. Not only that, I present to them on what is cur­rently in de­mand, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing the lat­est color com­bi­na­tions. Now they un­der­stand what turquoise is, and the clas­si­fi­ca­tions of many dif­fer­ent shades of blue, such as mid­night, elec­tric or navy. In re­turn, they share their weav­ing tech­niques and ex­pe­ri­ences with me.

“a Muse is a source of cre­ative forces that in­flu­ence, stiM­u­late

anD in­spire”

GY: Another im­por­tant part of your de­sign ven­ture is the muses you work with. How do you choose them and how do they as­sist you cre­atively?

DM: The thing that strikes me about Ni­cholas Sa­pu­tra and now Mike Lewis is the breath of moder­nity por­trayed by the two of them. Ad­di­tion­ally, they have this in­tegrity and fo­cus on what­ever they pur­sue— Ni­cholas with his movie ca­reer and Mike with his mod­el­ing as well as act­ing. Their at­ti­tude is pre­cisely the kind of mes­sage I want to share with the younger gen­er­a­tion: to do what they love and be fo­cused on what­ever they are aim­ing for.

Con­se­quently, I am into their style. Ev­ery time I meet them, I feel this jolt of cre­ativ­ity that urges me to grab a piece of pa­per and start draw­ing. Their style con­tin­u­ally evolves and to me, that is what a muse is all about. They are the peo­ple who in­spire you. They can even be an old Hol­ly­wood movie star, such as Paul New­man. For my women’s col­lec­tion, I am mus­ing Iz­abel Jahja who has been a re­ally good friend of mine for the past fif­teen years. She, too, fo­cuses on her crafts and has a great love for In­done­sia com­bined with an in­ter­na­tional mind­set.

GY: And what about your spe­cific fo­cus when de­sign­ing for men?

DM: When I de­sign for men, I cre­ate some­thing I want to wear. This way is eas­ier for me and I also find it gets the best re­sults. Ad­di­tion­ally, I reach out to my friends to un­der­stand style-spe­cific de­mand and the pro­gres­sive changes in menswear to­day.

Di­diet maulana in his work­shop and store op­po­site page Di­diet with his two muses wear­ing the "men­tari" col­lec­tion

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