Indonesian fashion designers turn eyes to the wider world

Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:07am EST
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By Andjarsari Paramaditha

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian fashion designers paired clean, urban styles with traditional batiks and designs inspired by ancient temples at the sixth annual Jakarta Fashion Week.

Local designers in Asia's fourth largest economy looked to the past and their heritage to gain a foothold in the international fashion market, a hope expressed in the week's theme "Indonesia Today, The World Tomorrow."

"This collection sums up 40 years of my work," said Josephine Komara, who is also known as Obin, a noted batik artisan who showcased eclectic designs with radiant silks.

Although Obin has shops in Singapore and Japan, she is most successful in her own country. There are other success stories like hers but Indonesia lacks a brand with global recognition, unlike its Southeast Asian neighbors such as the Malaysian Vincci and Singapore's Charles & Keith.

But the London-based Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE) hopes to change this, propelling young Indonesian designers to the international stage through a mentoring program. Experts say one of the biggest problems is inexperience and a short history of aiming at international markets.

"By going international, it means they have to be ready for what the market needs," said Toby Meadows, a CFE consultant. "It might be overwhelming for them because creating winter wear might never have crossed their minds. But if you have a brand, the buyers expect you to have a Fall/Winter collection as well."

The fundamentals for international recognition are already there. Designers Yosafat Dwi Kuniawan and Jeffrey Tan offered high fashion and urban cut pret a porter collections, while Barli Asmara and Albert Yanuar went for glamourous dresses with a costume-like touch.

Dian Pelangi, in a nod to local fashion, showed contemporary designs incorporating the hijab that many Indonesian women use to cover their heads.   Continued...