Jakarta Fashion Week aims to promote Indonesia as South East Asia’s most influential fashion region and trumpet its designers on the global stage.
Positioned on the Silk Road, the ancient trade route which stretches between China and the Mediterranean, Indonesia has a storied history of weaving, textiles and of course silk.
“We are rich in the traditions of fabric and weaving from the west in Sumatra to the east in Timor,” says Ibu Svida Alisjahbana, president and chief executive of the Femina Group, which runs Jakarta Fashion Week.
“Indonesia is also one of the largest manufacturers of modern textiles and garments for the international fashion industry, so there came the question: ‘why is there not a fashion week in Indonesia that would be influential throughout the region’?”
To this end, Alisjahbana founded Jakarta Fashion Week in 2008 with the aim of promoting Indonesia as South East Asia’s most influential fashion region and providing a platform for Indonesian designers on the global stage.
“The goal is really to bring Indonesian fashion to the world and create a dialogue with other countries that brings our wealth of tradition to modernity,” she says.
Alisjahbana’s tireless work to promote the region has received a substantial boost with the appointment of Jakarta Fashion Week as a new nominating body for the International Woolmark Prize.
The Asia region of the IWP will expand to include Indonesia for the 2016/17 round of the prestigious prize, with the aim of uncovering rising fashion stars in the dynamic marketplace.
“It is a huge honour to be part of the International Woolmark Prize and we are so proud the globally recognized Woolmark Company is taking a leap to embrace this market,” says Alisjahbana.
The global reach of the International Woolmark Prize will amplify the influence of several programs run by the Femina Group to help Indonesian designers reach new heights.
The company holds the Young Designers Competition, known locally as LPM, which has been the de-facto launching pad for many of Indonesia’s leading designers, and also runs awards with the Australia-Indonesia centre.
Another key initiative is Indonesia Fashion Forward, a collaborative project between Jakarta Fashion Week, The British Council, The Creative Economy Agency and local organisation Dekranasda Dki that serves as an incubator to groom select designers to become regional players by providing them with business skills and mentoring.
“We have all these programs to educate and upskill our designers but the next question is ‘how do we give our designers access to great fabrics?’ because the choices in our market are limited,” says Alisjahbana.
“And that’s why I knocked on Woolmark’s door, because our consumers, designers, garment manufacturers and textile players will gain access to this amazing fabric in the world of fashion today.”
Indonesia today is a predominantly Muslim country, but incredibly diverse when it comes to clothing and fashion.
“Indonesia is a secular country, so we are not really following any religion in terms of dressing,” says Alisjahbana.
With 20 million people commuting to Jakarta city from satellite cities each day for work, and a population of 12 million in Jakarta city in the evening, Alisjahbana claims the average consumption per capita for A and B demographics is as high as anywhere in the world.
“That is a large number of people who need access to great clothing and you can see the springing up of shopping malls for class A and B demographics that cover Zara on the lower part and Brioni and Christian Louboutin on the higher part.”
What would it take for a designer from Jakarta to reach the same international heights as a Louboutin or Brioni?
“They have to have innovation, designs of quality and competitive pricing,” says Alisjahbana.
“Designers are coming from the rich history of embroidery, tie-dye and exposure to the art and culture of Indonesia. But now they also have to be in a fashion conversations with the rest of the world and be internationally-minded as well as understanding their past history and heritage. That is the challenge.”