Going forward with a bang
WMany business people entered 2016 with caution. The economy had slowed down and aside from the adamantly positive assurances offered by the government, there was not much real change looming on the horizon. Hence, it was nice to note that, despite the gloomy outlook, fashion, which is basically a business of creativity meeting aspirations, didn’t dial down its creative pulse. The year opened with Indonesia Fashion Week (IFW), run by the association of Fashion Designers and Business Owners (APPMI). Among its longstanding members, it was really the young talents who stole the spotlight. Michelle Tjokrosaputro of Bateeq finally showed a collection that was not only commercial, but also creatively bold through cutting and pattern playing. Danjyo Hiyoji proved that he could maintain the label’s youthful, urbane DNA even when working with the heritage, hand-woven fabric ( of Maluku’s Tanimbar Islands, a feat that was not achieved by senior designers he shared the show with. The ultimate surprise arrived through a label created by Susan Budihardjo design school for its selected senior students and alumni, who showed sassy, au designs in Javanese batik and that had the audience literally rushing to book orders afterwards, with some begging to buy the sample collection. I spoke privately with Susan Budihardjo herself in recent months, where she explained the label’s objective to coach its members about the daily business side of fashion, as selected members are obliged to manage production, shows and displays and even handle clients. That afternoon I sat down with her and the young talents of
at a suburban mall’s outdoor bazaar. They need to know the market on and off the runway, Susan quipped.
Knowing your market is indeed the key — as shown by the Japanese Muslim Fashion Association participating in IFW. The Muslim population in Japan is minuscule, hence international markets are its target. The association’s front man who I spoke to believes there is a niche to be tapped into between refined Japanese aesthetics and modest fashion, which reminded me of the warm reception given to Indonesian label NurZahra when it was invited to show in Tokyo Fashion Week 2014. Two years after NurZahra walked in Tokyo, designer Chiharu Horiuchi sent models down the IFW runway in hijab ensembles made of precious kimono fabrics.
With foreign designers arriving, how did Indonesian designers themselves fare in the modest fashion category? Several of them who’d been running Indonesia Islamic Fashion Fair (IIFF) for years before, now huddled in newlyminted Indonesian Fashion Chamber, ran Muslim Fashion Festival (Muffest) during Ramadan this year. Notably smaller than the IIFF, Muffest however managed to leave a chic impression through the show selection and imposing outdoor fashion installations. I’ll keep an eye on this festival next year.
The same question of competitiveness is also posed vis-à-vis the use of Indonesian heritage fabrics as a source of inspiration for ready-to-wear items. As even international clothing retailer Marks & Spencer featured a print collection visibly modeled on
early last year, Indonesian designers must dig further into our treasure chest if they don’t want to be outpaced by overseas creative heads on our own soil.
A couple of young designers did just that at the Fimela Festival Kain held annually around Independence Day. Kudos are reserved for Miranda Mazuki