Reinvention, digitalisation, staying positive: these are recurring themes as fashion weeks around the world struggle to maintain momentum during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Next up is Jakarta Fashion Week, featuring both menswear and womenswear, which runs 26-29 November. The organisers have radically rethought the annual event this time round: the schedule shortened to four days, every show pre-recorded and a comprehensive digital programme devised.
Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW) chairwoman and CEO of GCM Group Svida Alisjahbana insists the show must go on: “If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we cannot take things for granted and assume we can simply stick to the ‘usual’, when everything is now unusual.”
Now in its thirteenth year, JFW is determined to retain its status as a major event on the fashion calendar in Southeast Asia. The physical shows are being staged at Senayan City, one of Jakarta’s best known shopping complexes for high-end fashion and a longstanding partner of JFW.
The launch of JFW.TV, a microsite that will stream the entire event live, is being backed by heavy social media coverage. JFW will this year pay special tribute to Indonesian designer and fashion week staple Barli Asmara, known for his ultra-feminine dresses, who died in August this year at the age of just 42.
The pivot to digital could prove a sharp move. Event organisers are seeking to tap into Indonesia’s considerably younger population of tech-savvy consumers. With an average age of 28 years, they turn to online channels such as TikTok, Twitch and Instagram Live for news and entertainment.
© Photo courtesy of Dachri Megantara for Jakarta Fashion Week/GCM Group
As in many countries, the retail landscape in Indonesia is undergoing monumental changes in the wake of the pandemic, with retailers and brands rethinking their business strategy. Indonesia’s longstanding love affair with large-scale department stores and malls has been in deep freeze for much of 2020. Instead, consumers are turning to e-commerce in record numbers, adopting new spending habits quicker than anticipated. A GlobalWebIndex estimates as many as 90 per cent of Indonesian internet users between the ages of 16-64 have purchased a product or service online.
Indonesia is a very significant market, with strong growth potential — the population is expected to balloon from 273 million to 319 million people by 2045. The apparel and footwear market alone is currently worth over $10 billion, 10 per cent bigger than its neighbour the Philippines.
But the country’s economy has had a tough 2020; shrinking by 3.49 per cent in the third quarter on top of a 5.3 per cent contraction in the previous quarter. The economy is on track for its first economic recession since the 1998 financial crisis.
Svida Alisjahbana of JFW remains positive. For this month’s event, she puts heavy emphasis on the programme of digital innovation. Besides screening a series of “Road to JFW” talks and presentations on Facebook Live and Instagram Live, this year’s JFW is partnering exclusively with TikTok, making this the first major fashion event to be held live on its platform.
Reflecting this year’s theme of “Inspiring Creativism”, JFW has secured an impressive array of local talent, including around 100 designers who reflect Indonesia’s melting pot of cultures and traditions. They include celebrated batik designers such as Iwan Tirta and Bateeq, elegant Lurik draping designs of Yogyakarta-based Lulu Lutfi Labibi, a contemporary take on modest wear by Rani Hatta as well as eco-minded designers such as Lekat and Sejauh Mata Memandang who specialise in using recycled textiles made from pre-consumption waste.
As a vast archipelago of thousands of islands, Indonesia is renowned for its cultural richness. Alisjahbana says: “We are proud to say that we’ve always strived to be inclusive of minorities when presenting JFW, whether that’s spotlighting little exposed traditions of the Indonesian archipelago, or working with differently abled designers and models.”
© Photo courtesy of Satrio Ramadhan for Jakarta Fashion Week/GCM Group
A local champion of sustainable and eco-conscious fashion is designer Rinaldy Yunardi, who is marking 25 years in the industry this season. The accessories and millinery maker has launched Refounder, a new line of handcrafted and refashioned women’s casual shoes and footwear.
“The younger generation has come up in a world where information is available at the click of a button,” explains Yunardi. “As a result, they are more in tune than ever about our impact on the environment — this is why upcycling and reselling has been so successful here.”
Rizal Rama, the male model who has been selected as this year’s JFW icon, adds that Indonesia’s large population of Gen Z and millennials is bold in self-expression on social media, adapting global cultural trends to a local context. “From trends to culture, Indonesia can be part of the world’s conversation, while defining its own characteristics among the global market.”
Never mind the pandemic — JFW opens on 26 November with its usual air of expectation. Svida Alisjahbana expects an upbeat few days of creative energy: “Indonesians are a proud, creative and visual-oriented people; and we also hold to the belief of ‘gengsi’ — the impression you make from your appearance.”
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