Jakarta. It's been an eventful year for the fashion industry in Indonesia, with numerous local designers making their unprecedented mark internationally alongside plenty of fashion shows that seem to be staged almost every week. Jakarta also continues to be a hotbed for new fashion labels, be it the small-scale ones surfacing on Instagram and at pop-up bazaars, to those bravely gambling in the high-end field.
A handful of designers are also taking commendable steps to tackle some of the au courant issues in fashion. During the Jakarta Fashion Week last November, themes as varied as sustainable and ethical fashion as well as Indonesia's position as the center of Muslim fashion were under the spotlight. Dian Pelangi, the face of Muslim wear emergence in Indonesia, was also named as one of the 500 most influential people in the global fashion world by Business of Fashion, a respected voice in the industry.
On the other hand, however, the domestic fashion market is getting more and more saturated. Options are in abundance for customers, as international fast-fashion giants are spreading their wings rapidly in Indonesian cities and covetable wear from luxury labels — big-name and independent alike — are getting easier to find. Not to mention, the burgeoning e-commerce sector also means customers are in for a bounty of fashion products at every price range imaginable.
Against this backdrop, it cannot be more important for Indonesian designers — especially those who own ready-to-wear labels with a luxury bent — to define a stronger identity, while simultaneously catering to the whim of the market with better business strategies.
The designers listed below have been in the industry for up to five years, but they manage to constantly push the envelope, not only with their collections but through various accolades they have received. These talents particularly stand out this year as they strike that elusive sweet spot where their singular esthetics are wedded to wearable designs that resonate with customers — here and abroad.
1. Toton Januar
A graduate of Parsons New School of Design in New York, Toton Januar founded his eponymous label in 2012. Within three years, his designs — combining visual cues from Indonesian culture with the codes of modern wardrobe — have made him a household name in the local fashion scene. The Makassar-born designer is never hesitant to juxtapose his structured pieces like white shirts and straight-legged pants with traditional elements, from striped batik lurik motif to statement necklaces inspired by the Dayak tribe in Borneo. His conviction has paid off — Toton now markets his collections at a trade show during Paris Fashion Week every season and can count numerous international retailers among his clients.
2. Felicia Budi
For Felicia Budi, material exploration is a key element in her design process. After studying at the London College of Fashion, she had a stint at Bin House, Indonesia's leading textile house, where she fell in love with traditional textile-making techniques. Her spring-summer 2015 collection received a great amount of attention as it utilized Tyvek, a paper-like industrial material, for its subdued and minimal pieces. More recently, she worked together with the community of weavers in Flores in East Nusa Tenggara who hand-spun organic cotton for her latest collection. This initiative was in line with her next vision — to empower local workers and introduce sustainable fashion to her peers.
3. Peggy Hartanto
From model Gigi Hadid to actress Portia de Rossi, Peggy Hartanto is perhaps the only Indonesian designer who has dressed a wide array of Hollywood celebrities. Apart from her powerful connections, the designer's success can simply be chalked up to her ultra-feminine and well-designed pieces — such as cut-out cocktail dresses and streamlined jumpsuits for evening — that always dazzle her loyal female customers. The Surabaya native studied fashion in Australia and has won a variety of accolades since then, including the first prize in the Australian Wool Fashion Awards back in 2010.
4. Restu Anggraini
Among the many designers focusing on Muslim wear — or also known these days as modest wear — Restu Anggraini stands out through her label ETU. Exclusively offering executive-wear, which translates to tailored blazers, pantsuits and the likes, ETU lends a unique spin by way of intricate details and monochromatic shades. Her collection speaks not only to Muslim women, but also a wider audience who opts for equally modest and fashion-forward style for their work attire. Earlier this year, Restu showed her collection at the Tokyo Fashion Week and more recently gained international exposure by winning the 2015 Indonesian Young Designer Award from the Australia-Indonesia Center.
5. Patrick Owen
Although he was not trained as a fashion designer, Patrick Owen successfully made his namesake label famous via its artistic influences and street elements. The designer often enlists the help of leading illustrators, from Emte to Tatiana Romanova Surya, to infuse his women and menswear collections with their psychedelic and bold prints. Although Patrick likes to imbue his designs with meticulous embellishments, it is his easy-to-wear unisex sweatshirt that became popular among the stylish set. His influence even reached South Korea when he staged a show during the Seoul Fashion Week last October.