A Bright Future for Indonesia’s Fashion Scene

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“Indonesia is more than ready to be the global leader of Muslim fashion,” says leading Indonesian designer Dian Wahyu Utami. Najwa Abdullah caught up with the young and talented lady at Indonesia Fashion Week 2014.

Showcasing the best of Indonesian designers and the local fashion industry, the Indonesia Fashion Week (IFW) 2014 came and went by in a flash. A highlight for hijabi fashionistas at IFW 2014 was the Muslimwear parades that graced the catwalk at the Plenary Hall, Jakarta Convention Center. There were bold looks with nuanced details, magnificent accessorised hijab styles, and the enchanting fusion of Indonesian traditional woven textiles and batik with a Western contemporary look.

The popularity and immense growth potential of the Islamic fashion industry was evident at the IFW 2014. Muslimwear was one of the most anticipated parts of the event. The climax of the Muslimwear showcase was on the second day of the event on February 21. It drew a massive audience. Featured were numerous outstanding Indonesian designers, such as Errin Ugaru, Nuniek Mawardi, Iva Lativah, Itang Yunasz, Monika Jufry and Dian Wahyu Utami (famously known as Dian Pelangi). All the collections centred on themes of “Purity Transcendence”, “Ethic Spiritual”, and “Revealing Innocence”.

A few leading Indonesian Muslimwear brands, such as ZOYA and Shafira also introduced their newest collections and participated in the spectacular shows. Shafira even held its own show entitled “La Dolce Vita”. It emphasised the elegance of modest fashion through its exceptional classic feminine looks and iridescent combinations inspired by the beauty and romance of Italian cities, like Venice, Florence, Rome, and Cecilia.

Responding to this very positive progress, Irna Mutiara, the gifted designer behind the eminent label, Irna La Perle, noted that Muslim fashion has made a significant contribution in advancing the Indonesian fashion industry as a whole. Compared to the previous IFWs in 2012 and 2013, IFW 2014 has featured more new Muslim designers and brands. It has also drawn a larger group of participants from all over Indonesia. “The enthusiasm is increasing immensely. There are approximately 70 Muslimwear brands featured in this event. As we can see, the visitors are dominantly hijabis, making it apparent that modest wear is highly preferable nowadays,” observed Irna as I caught up with her for a short conversation.

Dian Wahyu Utami shares similar views. For this year’s IFW she exhibited her phenomenal collection “Royal Kingdom”, which was also presented at the Haute Arabia 2014 in London. The well-known designer behind her eponymous line Dian Pelangi said optimistically that Indonesia is more than ready to be the Islamic fashion capital in the near future. “We have got everything: the prolific and talented designers, cultural affluence and originality, as well as massive marketplace. IFW 2014 provides the main reference of national and global Muslim clothing, and it continues to enhance the quality and capacities of its Muslim designers to become recognised in international markets.”

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Dian Wahyu Utami

Dian also added, “When I am on duty to other countries, it is palpable that Indonesian Muslimwear is more varied, colourful, and stylish [in comparison] to that of other countries. We interpret modesty in more moderate terms without compromising the head-to-toe coverage”.

Nevertheless, great aspirations are always beset by significant challenges. One of them is to juxtapose fashion and faith, and gain acceptance from Muslim communities in general. “Headdresses are compulsory in any case and outfits should not be tight or see-through. All in all, designers have to realise that everything has to be in accordance with the Sharia as religion is actually the cornerstone of Muslimwear,” said Irna.

Another challenge is how Indonesian designers can astutely combine Indonesian traditional fashion with the international demands. “We should acknowledge that in order to make Indonesian fashion wearable to the non-Indonesians, we need to use universal and contemporary design,” said Dian. Nevertheless, she also believes that as the trendsetters of global Islamic fashion industry, it is important for local designers to feature Indonesian batik, woven textiles, and embroidery to lend originality and identity to contemporary designs.

Regardless of the challenges, the fashion exhibitions at the IFW 2014 have underscored the designers’ commitment to maintaining local heritage while introducing contemporary designs. This will allow for the Indonesian identity to be well presented on the international stage in the future.

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