(Fixes typo in paragraph four)
By Andjarsari Paramaditha
JAKARTA Nov 13 Indonesian fashion designers
paired clean, urban styles with traditional batiks and designs
inspired by ancient temples at the sixth annual Jakarta Fashion
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 neighbours 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.
All are among eight local designers and labels in CFE's
mentoring programme, which they hope will propel them onto the
None of the designers have dealt with international buyers,
although Barli and Yosafat have showed their collections in
fashion weeks overseas. Most are still struggling with branding
and business plans over creativity and design ideas.
"I went for a showcase in China Fashion Week in 2009, but
there wasn't any actual trading," said Yosafat, 23, whose
designs are inspired by the ancient Javanese Borobudur temple.
"I simply don't know how to sell and deliver and I've made
some big mistakes in my business."
The CFE mentoring programme, which is backed by the
Indonesian and British governments, includes three years of
training in branding, pricing, production and marketing. It also
helps connect young designers with prospective buyers and to
decide which market suits them best.
"I made some dresses for overseas clients in Kuala Lumpur or
Singapore," said Albert Yanuar, whose designs are inspired by
the shapes of traditional Wayang shadow puppets. "My dresses
seem to fit into Asian markets such as China, Korea, Hong Kong
One success story is Ardistia, who started her label when
she was based in New York and later expanded to the Indonesian
market with her clean, urban look. Her designs have been shown
in department stores in the United States, Canada and France.
Given the growing wealth and middle classes of Asia, Meadows
encourages Indonesian designers to broaden their outlook and not
just target the most established, traditional fashion markets.
"People often aim for New York and London, while purchasing
power is big in Asia," he said. "So why not also target that,
and not just focus on the U.S. and the European market? It would
be silly to overlook Asia while it's so near and feasible."
(Reporting by Andjarsari Paramaditha; editing by Elaine Lies
and Patricia Reaney)