tri han­doko

The founder of Aus­tere and 3 by Tri Han­doko looks be­yond trends and in­spires new ones

DA MAN - Style - - Contents -

When we’re talk­ing about fash­ion and style, the word “now” is most com­monly used when de­scrib­ing what’s trending at the mo­ment, which looks are cur­rently in fa­vor and what all the big fash­ion houses are work­ing on presently. In the vo­cab­u­lary of cel­e­brated de­signer Tri Han­doko, how­ever, “now” seems to be de­tached from the rest of the world. His work is, thus, unique in the sense it is never an at­tempt to em­u­late past suc­cess, nor does it fol­low what’s sell­ing or what will draw crowds in a few months’ time. Yet, you’d be hard-pressed to find any piece of cloth­ing by Tri Han­doko that isn’t per­pet­u­ally wear­able.

Hail­ing from the East Java town of Bl­i­tar, Tri Han­doko first stepped into the world of fash­ion in the late ’80s. Stud­ies in design—in­clud­ing a stint abroad and in­tern­ships at sev­eral lead­ing de­sign­ers such as Biyan— even­tu­ally led to the creation of his own la­bel. To­day he has three, each of­fer­ing a dis­tinct take on his vi­sion of sar­to­rial rel­e­vancy. By now, Tri Han­doko is also known for his fash­ion shows, which can range from “merely” bril­liant to bril­liant and pro­foundly emo­tional. There­fore, it goes with­out say­ing that our con­ver­sa­tion with the man him­self was as thought­pro­vok­ing as it was en­light­en­ing.

Joezer Mandagi: Can you give us a brief in­tro to your three fash­ion brands? Tri Han­doko:

My first brand is the one bear­ing my own name, Tri Han­doko, which is my first line. This one is mostly for cus­tom-made cloth­ing. Then, there’s Aus­tere by Tri Han­doko, which is for both men and women. This one is more deluxe—ready-to-wear deluxe, if you will. The other one, 3 by Tri Han­doko, is for men— only for men—and has a younger tar­get au­di­ence than Aus­tere.

JM: Of the last two you men­tioned, which would be the “stronger” line for menswear? TH:

Both, be­cause each has a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter. The DNA is still the same, but the menswear pieces from Aus­tere by Tri Han­doko and 3 by Tri Han­doko show­case dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics.

JM: Speak­ing of the com­mon DNA shared by your brands, what ex­actly is it? TH:

For all my brands I al­ways make some­thing that is rel­e­vant. Al­ways hon­est. I don’t like to make things that are sense­less. This might be a bit hard to ex­plain, but some­times there are de­sign­ers who force them­selves to add things or cre­ate some­thing that is ac­tu­ally un­nec­es­sary. That is what I call sense­less. For my­self, I know when to say “enough is enough.” I know when to say “stop.” Ev­ery­thing has to be rel­e­vant.

JM: So, what are the rel­e­vant items for 2016? TH:

If you’re ask­ing me about trends, you’re mak­ing a mis­take. [ Laughs] This is an hon­est an­swer: I never study trends. Since the very be­gin­ning, I’ve never done so. I never try to fol­low trends. I’m just do­ing what­ever comes to me. I’m just do­ing what­ever my heart tells me to do. I never re­ally care about other peo­ple—what other peo­ple say, I mean. “It’s not trendy,” “it’s what­ever”—I don’t re­ally care. So, maybe I’m not a trendy per­son. I’m not into trends.

“For all My brands i al­ways Make some­thing that is rel­e­vant. al­ways Hon­est. i Don’t like to Make things that are sense­less”

JM: It’s quite in­ter­est­ing hear­ing you say that be­cause some peo­ple con­sider you a trend­set­ter. TH:

What’s sur­pris­ing is that, per­haps ever since I started work­ing, it hap­pens quite of­ten—with­out me re­al­iz­ing it. And, ac­tu­ally, a lot of peo­ple would re­mind me: “Do you re­mem­ber mak­ing this or that two or three years ago? And now it’s be­come a trend.” But I’ve never done so as a form of pre­dic­tion. That’s what I said ear­lier, that I never try to pre­dict what lies ahead. So, if it turns out that I have this gift granted by God as some­body that peo­ple see as a trend­set­ter, then I can only thank Him. Be­cause it’s not me.

JM: What does your cre­ative process usu­ally en­tail? Or let’s put it this way: How do you usu­ally look for in­spi­ra­tion? TH:

It could be any­thing: films, mu­sic, my own emo­tions, bi­ogra­phies. As for cer­tain peo­ple who in­spire me, I don’t have those. It keeps on chang­ing and it can be any­thing. But, the thing is, I don’t like to day­dream. So, like I said ear­lier, for all of my cre­ations, I al­ways make them rel­e­vant. Be­cause I’m not the type to fan­ta­size. I need to be sure that there will be peo­ple who want to wear what I make. What­ever it is that in­spires me will be re­fined so that it can stay rel­e­vant.

JM: Can you give us some ex­am­ples of what has in­spired you lately? TH:

Through­out 2015 I had three ma­jor shows. And all of them were quite emo­tional. They were very in­tense, es­pe­cially the last, “Mind Games.” That one was mostly about my story, my life. But, in gen­eral, it por­trayed all hu­man emo­tions, what­ever it may be. So, it was very deep. Be­fore that was “Be Here Now.” It’s about my be­lief that peo­ple need to live in the now. Be­cause liv­ing in the past is not good, and wor­ry­ing about the fu­ture is also wrong. So, for as long as you are here, now, that is a bless­ing. Ev­ery­thing is about “now.” There’s another one of my col­lec­tions, “Ronin.”

Ronin comes from Ja­pan’s samu­rai cul­ture—they’re ex­iled samu­rai who are mas­ter­less. But they are so adamant at up­hold­ing their honor that they are will­ing to die for it. That is what’s in­spir­ing. So, ev­ery col­lec­tion has a story.

JM: What about 2016? Can you give us any hints about what, or maybe who, has in­spired you for this year’s col­lec­tions? TH:

A hu­man rights ac­tivist from Africa. He’s a big man. That’s my in­spi­ra­tion.

JM: On to a more prac­ti­cal mat­ter, as a de­signer, how do you get peo­ple to ex­plore more di­verse sar­to­rial op­tions? TH:

I don’t think that I have the ca­pac­ity to do that. In my opin­ion, my task is to pro­vide them with op­tions. To show them that even a clas­sic shirt can have a twist to it—some­thing to make it in­ter­est­ing. That’s all I can do: I only give them op­tions.

JM: How about if some­body’s al­ready ea­ger to ex­plore but un­sure how to do so. What do you rec­om­mend in a sit­u­a­tion like this? TH:

Ac­tu­ally, what’s most im­por­tant is be­ing com­fort­able. As long as you feel good about it, it doesn’t mat­ter. Maybe there are peo­ple who go the op­po­site way and try to be very trendy. And then they try ev­ery­thing. But if they’re not com­fort­able, it’s not good. So, I think the key here is just be­ing com­fort­able with what­ever you’re wear­ing—and es­pe­cially with your­self. Be­cause if we’re al­ready com­fort­able with our­selves, if we al­ready know our­selves, if we al­ready love our­selves ... that’s al­ready a plus point. So, it’s not about clothes; it’s not about be­ing trendy. It’s not about, you know, stuff. It’s all from the in­side, I think.

JM: In that case, do you try to send a mes­sage through your de­signs? TH:

No. I’m not the type of per­son who plans things. I’m very much an artist, even if I do say so my­self. For ex­am­ple, I’m plan­ning on mak­ing a col­lec­tion so I think: “Okay, then; I want to make a state­ment to the masses. My mes­sage is this and this and this.” And then I make the col­lec­tion. Never! So, ev­ery­thing I feel at the mo­ment, ev­ery­thing I ex­pe­ri­ence at the mo­ment ... that’s what comes out. I never re­ally have any goals or plans. Maybe it’s just a co­in­ci­dence that lately I’ve got­ten in touch with my soul, prob­a­bly, and then de­vel­oped an in­ter­est for things that have never taken my at­ten­tion be­fore.

“it’s not about clothes; it’s not about be­ing trendy; it’s not about stuff. it’s all from the in­side”

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