Indonesia is rich in art and culture, best exemplified in the amazing array of textures, materials and patterns that are often unique to the region from which they hail. But time marches on, and over that time, many traditional textiles have fallen out of fashion.
That said, there are designers who seek to preserve such important historical heritage. These “brand ambassadors” for Indonesian textiles not only use them in their works, but promote them on the world stage. So here are Indonesia Tatler’s six of the best.
Josephine Werratie Komara, better known as Obin, was born on June 16, 1955, and passed away in 2013. The designer is known for her priceless contributions in reviving cultures and traditions that other designers abandoned, and for her passionfor textiles.
Obin began designing clothes in the late 1970s and her clothing brand BIN house opened its first store in Jakarta in 1986. In 1989, she opened her first boutiques in Japan, Bali and Singapore. BIN house produces clothing using traditional hand-made designs and techniques like embroidery to innovative new designs like winding pecah patterns as well as natural colourings. The fabric used in production is also unique because it takes a surprisingly long time to make just a single piece.
Born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Ghea Panggabean is a renowned fashion designer who often featuresethnic Indonesian touchesin her designs, which have been recognised both locally and internationally. Ghea spent her childhood in Indonesia and then moved to Europe, but she never misses the chance to use Indonesian art and culture as a source of inspiration.
When Ghea was a young designer, she attractedmuch attention when she used Palembang and Javanese jumputan motifs in her designs. Furthermore, in every fashion show, Ghea always uses traditional fabrics blended with modern fabrics like organzaand silk.
Fashion designer Didi Budiardjo is known for his contemporary and chic designs. He started his career as an apprentice to Susan Budiardjo in 1989 before leaving for Paris to study at Atelier Fleuri Delaporte.
As a child, Didi fell in love with batik and he always incorporatesit in his designs, including his latest collection “Cruise”, which followeda three-monthresearch stint with batik designers. Meanwhile,he designed 43 batik pieces named “Uri-Uri”, which means “preserved culture” in Javanese, and presentedthe collection at the Jakarta Fashion and Food Festivalin 2015.
Chossy Latu, aka “ca-bau-kan”, is both an actor and a fashion designer. For many years, Chossy has travelled the world to introduce work that blends batik with weaving. As such, he was invitedby the United Nations, together with other leading Indonesian figures, to introduce their work.
The “batik cap” designed during this time was considered a second-class batik because of its high levels of complexity, but for Chossy, this was just another challenge that needed conquering. He made batik cap and also used batik from Solo, like sido mukti and sido mulyo in combination with othermotifs like parang.
As well as batik, Chossy also works with local woven fabrics and was one of the six designers who worked on Cita Tenun Indonesia, aimed atencouraging people to explore the beauty and heritage of weaving.
Auguste Soesastro was born in Jakarta on August 10, 1981, but was raised in the Netherlands, the US and Australia. In 2008, he started his own ready-to-wear label called KRATON, which combines the techniques and fabric sensibility of a couture line with the practicality of ready-to-wear clothing. And after four years running KRATON, Soesastro decided to craft a simpler ready-to-wear design for his second label called, Kromo.
One of the reasons that makes his designs stand out is his ability to create simple aesthetics and unique constructions. He often uses materials that generally artisanal and hand woven, as well as natural fibres to expose their natural beauty, and he believes that these materials are more environmentally friendly and suitable for the tropical climate in Indonesia.
Not only that, he also pays close attention and support to Indonesian textile. Soesastro has worked with artisans and weavers from Cita Weaving Indonesia (CTI) to explore the beauty of Sambas traditional woven fabric. Previously, he has also featured Balinese woven fabric and Palembang songket into a beautiful design in his collection.
Didiet Maulana is a fashion designer best known as an ikat maestro. Born in Jakarta January 18, 1981, in 2011 he started his own brand called Ikat Indonesia, which uses ikat woven fabric as its main material.
Ikat also has a deeper meaning, since it means “to tie”, representing a commitment to promoting Indonesia’s cultural richness. This idealism is translated into Didiet’s fashion line, which makes it relevant to both the Indonesian market and on the global stage. Didiet Maulana also designed TUMI bag for the 2016 Grammy Awards and garnered international praise for showcasing Indonesia’s signature woven patterns.
Photo credit: Obin, Ghea Panggabean, Didi Budiardjo, Chossy Latu, Auguste Soesastro, Didiet Maulana, Jakarta Fashion Week