Ready to soar
JO ELAINE SAW a popular misconception about local fashion designers. Many customers considered them as little more than dressmakers who could do customisations. With a mission to give Indonesian ready-to-wear labels the respect they deserved, the 29-year-old entrepreneur launched ARA Jakarta with designer friends Toton Januar, Peggy, Petty and Lydia Hartanto, as well as Friederich Herman, in 2015. Their multi-label boutique in Kemang offers a selection of premium Indonesian brands.
“A lot of women these days want something design-oriented, modern and unfussy,” says Elaine. “The designers need to understand their clients better. ARA tries to bridge the gap by providing insights that will hopefully motivate designers to create more relevant collections.”
Elaine is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. She spent five years as a fashion journalist before becoming Editor-in- Chief of Bobobobo, a digital lifestyle platform. While remotely managing ARA Jakarta, she has just started her one-year Master’s degree in Digital Humanities in London.
“To be honest, it’s rather alarming,” says Elaine of the state of the Indonesian fashion industry. “Influencers, not editors, are the tastemakers of this generation. There are pros and cons to this, of course, but the prevalence of social media contributes to the proliferation of subpar brands. Some of my designers have had their designs blatantly plagiarised, and there’s not much they can do about it.”
Elaine’s vision for ARA Jakarta is to bring the brands at her boutique to international quality levels. “Indonesian designers have much to contribute to the global fashion scene, but we have to standardise our business practices and cover the basics before we can consider competing at that level,” she warns. “Talent alone is not going to get you there.”