Monday, February 25, 2013

Traditional Indonesian Textiles Go Global

Move over, batik! Other textile traditions are finding a spot on the international stage, thanks to designers who take pride in their national culture(s).

These days, batik is not the only Indonesian textile with international cachet. At fashion events in Jakarta last week, designers and entrepreneurs showed how creations featuring ikat, songket and tenun are being marketed to the world. 

Indonesia Fashion Week, Brightspot Market, and Her World Brides Wedding Fair all hit Jakarta between February 14th and 17th, offering a diverse array of opportunities for fashionistas.

One theme was noticeable: designers are using traditional fabrics as a recurring motif and source of inspiration. Their dedication and creativity are bringing Indonesian culture to a wider audience

A binding commitment

Didiet Maulana stands with model Dominique Diyose after presenting his first bridal collection, SVARNA, at Jakarta's Four Seasons Hotel on February 16th. Gowns in a wide range of styles incorporated gorgeous woven textiles of South Sumatra. 
On February 16th, at Her World Brides Wedding Fair at the Four Seasons Hotel, Didiet Maulana launched his SVARNA bridal collection, featuring songket Palembang – traditional handwoven fabrics from Palembang, South Sumatra.
Didiet, who owns the fashion line "Ikat Indonesia," aims to bring the nation's cultural heritage to the surface through modern fashion pieces.
Ikat is a hand-woven fabric with patterns created through a special dyeing technique, which can be found in Java, Bali, Sumba and other regions in the archipelago.
"Ikat means 'to bind'. My binding commitment is to use traditional fabrics in my creations," he told Khabar Southeast Asia. "I discovered that Ikat fabric has great potential and should be cultivated."
His elegant designs always incorporate traditional textiles and techniques. Recently, he dressed Miss Universe 2013, Olivia Culpo, during her appearance in Puteri Indonesia 2013. Didiet was an official designer for the beauty pageant.
Saving Toraja textiles

Dinny Jusuf (left) and Nina Jusuf of Toraja Melo stand in their booth at the Jakarta Convention Centre during Indonesia Fashion Week 2013, held February 14th-17th. Their fashion line features clothing and accessories that incorporate traditional Toraja weaving.
Dinny Jusuf was once a banker and secretary general of the National Commission on Anti-Violence Against Women. In her retirement, she founded a fashion line, "Toraja Melo" (Beautiful Toraja).
Partnering with her sister, Nina Jusuf, she aims to preserve and rejuvenate the weaving tradition unique to the Toraja people of South Sulawesi – and help Toraja women improve the quality of their lives.
In frequent visits to Toraja, her husband's hometown, Dinny discovered a dying weaving culture. "I saw no one bought tenun Toraja," the local handwoven textile, she said.
In the past, it was very popular, Dinny told Khabar. "There used to be a lot of tourists in Toraja, but now since the financial crisis, Toraja's weaving is rarely bought," she said.
At Indonesia Fashion Week 2013 at the Jakarta Convention Centre, "Toraja Melo" offered bags, wallets, shoes, sandals, clothes, and shawls – all handmade and using traditional Toraja woven motifs.
Dinny personally approached Toraja weavers in their villages and now, 200 of them create products for her company.
Since late 2009, Toraja Melo has averaged 30 exhibitions per year and has participated in international fairs in Bangkok, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Their greatest achievement so far has been having their creations worn by Maya Soetoro-Ng, the half-sister of US President Barack Obama, whose father was Indonesian.
"In the beginning of January of this year, we received an email to participate in a Washington, DC exhibition. Turns out the invitation came from Maya Soetoro-Ng's friend, and we received an offer to design three sets of clothes for her to wear at the inaugural ball on January 21st," she said, referring to the grand parties that take place after a US president is sworn in.
In love with Ikat Sumba

Aninda Aviani, 24-year-old designer and owner of AVANAVA label, stands in front of her collection at Brightspot Market 2013 at Grand Indonesia, Jakarta. Her advice for young entrepreneurs: ''Don't be afraid to try and don't delay to build your business''.
Aninda Aviani wanted to be a fashion designer since elementary school. For almost as long, she has been enthralled with Ikat Sumba, the textile characteristic of the island of that name in East Nusa Tenggara.
Today, at 24, she incorporates Ikat Sumba in her own fashion line, AVANAVA, which sells in Indonesia, Japan, Switzerland and Singapore, and through her website.
"I've been in love with Ikat Sumba weaves for such a long time. Each motif has its own characteristics. By modifying the motifs, I can create many creations," said Aninda, who exhibited her designs at Indonesia Fashion Week and Brightspot Market.
Aninda's goal is to see traditional fabrics used not only for formal attire but also for daily use – and local brands on equal footing with international brands.
Her advice to other young entrepreneurs: "Don't be afraid to try and don't delay to build your business."

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