A healthy organization is like a living organism. It breathes, evolves and grows bigger and stronger each day. So does the Indonesian Fashion Designer Association, also known as Appmi.
The organization was first established in Jakarta by Indonesia’s leading fashion designers, including the late Indonesian fashion guru Peter Sie, the late Batik maestro Iwan Tirta and senior designer Poppy Dharsono on July 22, 1993.
The organization aims to develop Indonesia’s fashion industry by uniting all stakeholders, developing the knowledge and skills of Indonesian fashion designers and promoting new talent.
Appmi started with a handful of members in Jakarta. But today, the 20-year-old organization has grown to 12 branches and 190 members all over Indonesia.
“Nationwide organizations, like Appmi, are necessary to develop the country’s fashion industry,” Appmi chairman, Taruna K. Kusmayadi said. “Without such [nationwide] institutions, only fashion designers in Jakarta will be able to develop their skills and knowledge and get media coverage. Appmi aims to discover new potential talent in different parts of the country and help them to develop their businesses.”
The organization plans to open two more branches: in Lampung, Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara by the end of this year, which will fuel their goal of reaching a membership of 250 local fashion designers by the end of 2015.
Each year Appmi’s mission of uniting Indonesia’s fashion industry is realized through Indonesia Fashion Week (IFW), which first was first established in Jakarta in 2012. The annual event is sponsored by four government institutions, including the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Trade, and Ministry of Cooperatives and Small-to-Medium Enterprises.
More than 505 fashion brands showcased their products in IFW this year, in a four-day event that also featured collections from 170 local and international designers. Among these designers were new Appmi members, which had been carefully selected from hundreds of applicants from all over Indonesia.
Among the 37 newcomers is Indonesian celebrity designer, Ivan Gunawan, who first stepped into the world of fashion in 1998 as an assistant designer to his uncle, Kebaya designer Adjie Notonegoro.
The 32-year-old established his first self-titled label in Jakarta in 2004.
“I’ve been working by myself for a long time,” said the host of “Inspektur Igun,” a reality TV show on Trans TV. “And I longed to be in an organization where we can all work together to develop our businesses. So, I’ve chosen Appmi as my new home.”
In this year’s IFW, Ivan presented his fall/winter 2014 collection, themed “Manjula.”
“The word ‘ manjula ’ means ‘pretty’ and ‘charming’ in the Indian language,” he said. “For this collection, I was much inspired by the royal attires of Indian maharanis [princesses].”
The collection included eight elegant evening dresses, one of which was a black halter dress made of lambskin and tulle, embellished with golden floral appliques cascading from the waist. Another eye-catching dress by the flamboyant designer was a one-shoulder evening gown made of silk chiffon, entirely encrusted with golden beads and crystals. Its olive-skinned model exuded a graceful opulent aura of an Indian queen as she glided down the runway.
Fashion designers from Java were the main highlights in the Appmi New Members show during IFW, most of whom had clear-cut concepts for their ready-to-wear collections and understood the needs of their clientele.
A new addition to the fashion organization, Retty Sellya, was inspired by the styles of the 1920s, which was reflected beautifully through her chic drop-waist dresses a la “The Great Gatsby.” The Bandung-based designer used silk chiffon materials printed with Indonesian traditional patterns, such as the Balinese poleng (black-and-white chess-like pattern), Qui Lin (Chinese phoenix motif) and batik floral designs, made with natural dyes. As a result, her dresses looked classic, yet fresh and modern.
Retty was not the only Appmi newcomer to feature Indonesian traditional fabrics in her collection. Jakarta-based D, Djuanita Seno Aji used Balinese songket motifs in her fall/winter 2014 collection themed “Rhythmic Ethnic.”
For this collection, Djuanita had clearly sourced her materials carefully by putting a monochromatic, silver and golden-hued take on the Balinese cloth for her dresses. Djuanita embellished these songket dresses with discreet embroideries made by skillful artisans in Garut, West Java, to create her elegant women’s evening wear collection.
Janet Teowarang, from Surabaya, East Java, also added her own twist to traditional Indonesian fabrics by transforming batik and tie-dyed sarongs into unique cocktail dresses for her collection, “Symmetry of Refined Civilizations.”
“I was inspired by the grand architectures in Dubai and Abu Dhabi during my recent travel to the Middle East,” Janet said.
Most of the dresses in Janet’s collection took on dark, earthy colors and clean-cut silhouettes that enhance a woman’s curves.
Up-and-coming designer from Padang, West Sumatra, Vivian Huberta offered a unique evening wear collection themed “Reframe” at IFW.
Vivian’s line of dresses oozed a sense of chic mixed with playfulness through the use of color blocks shaped to resemble women’s body parts, creating intriguing optical illusions in the gowns.
“I was inspired by Charlie Chaplin movies,” Vivian said. “His movies are black-and-white and silent, and yet, they provoke people’s imaginations.”
Vivian accentuated some of her dresses with structured vests and jackets, which were long at the front and cropped to shoulder-length at the back, creating a fun and dynamic impression of today’s modern women.
Appmi co-founder, Poppy Dharsono, was impressed with the collections presented by the new members.
“IFW has definitely opened our eyes to Indonesia’s young fashion talents,” said the senior designer, who is now in the Appmi advisory board. “And I’m so proud of them. These are young talents in the country’s fashion industry that we should all rear and encourage.”
According to Poppy, Appmi will select 10 labels from among the new designers to present their collections at the Igedo trade fair in Dusseldorf, Germany, next year.
About 80,000 people attended IFW this year. Among them were 15 international buyers.
“We will have a bigger IFW with more local products next year,” Appmi chairman, Taruna said. “And we’ll definitely invite more international buyers and prepare a special buyer’s room for them.”