November 7, 2016 / 10:14 AM / 4 years ago

Indonesian president's call for calm makes fashion statement

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for calm after a violent protest by hardline Muslims last week, yet it was his khaki bomber jacket that excited social media and triggered a rush by Indonesians to snap up similar clothing across the country.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo (3rd L) talks to reporters after a protest by hardline Muslim groups against Jakarta's incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 5, 2016 in this picture taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Puspa Perwitasari/via REUTERS.

The president, who normally wears a simple, white long-sleeved shirt, is rarely seen as a fashion icon by young Indonesians, who are among the world’s biggest users of social media like Twitter and Facebook.

But Twitter was abuzz for hours with speculation over the brand of the jacket Widodo wore in a televised appearance shortly after midnight on Friday, in which he blamed ‘political actors’ for stirring trouble at a rally attended by more than 100,000 protesters.

Police resorted to using tear gas and water cannon after clashes with Muslim hardliners calling for the resignation of Jakarta’s Christian governor.

An executive at an Indonesian company that owns the franchise rights for Zara in the country said the jacket in question was made by the Spanish clothing retailer and it was already sold out in almost all of its stores.

“The demand for these jackets keeps coming and we have placed a repeat order for them,” Fetty Kwartati, corporate secretary of PT Mitra Adiperkasa Tbk, told Reuters by telephone.

A presidential spokesman declined to comment.

A Zara employee at a Jakarta shopping mall said customers had bought more than 100 of the jackets, which sell for 899,900 rupiah ($69) each, in just a few days and the store was trying to re-stock as fast as possible.

Local media reported that they were also sold out in other Indonesian cities like Surabaya.

“Everybody started talking about it,” said Rovan, a 25-year-old hotel worker who was trying out the jacket. “After I saw it on social media, I am kind of interested in it.”

Reporting by Fergus Jensen and Fransiska Nangoy in JAKARTA; Writing by Eveline Danubrata; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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