Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bandung Street Style: Siro, Paris Van Java

Bandung is about a two-hour drive or three-hour train ride from Jakarta. It's at a higher altitude than the capital city and is usually a few degrees cooler. It's also cooler in the other sense of the word, with a reputation as something like the San Francisco or Portland of Indonesia. Bandung is home to some of the most prestigious universities in the country, and feels a bit like a college town. It's also the center of the indie music and fashion scenes, with more hipsters per square mile than anywhere else in Indonesia. That said, it has nothing on Portland in that regard. They still constitute a small minority. But Bandung no doubt boasts more metalheads and gutter punks than even the Pacific Northwest can muster. In the Dutch colonial days (lasting from roughly the 15th Century to 1942), Bandung was known as "Paris Van Java," or the Paris of Java, for its lush gardens and European architecture. These days, that comparison is a bit of a stretch. The European architecture is still there, but its competes with ramshackle huts with tin roofs, plastic tarp food stalls (angkringan), and gaudy new construction factory outlets of various fashion brands made in the city. Bandung is ground zero for outsourced garment manufacturing in Indonesia. Ralph Lauren has stuff made here, as does Hugo Boss, and The Gap. Chances are, you have something made here too. It is this garment-manufacturing infrastructure that has made Bandung the nation's hotspot for new and exciting local clothing brands. I'll be featuring some of them in the coming week or two.

I took these shots of Siro at the "Paris Van Java" shopping center in the Sukajadi neighborhood of Bandung. It's a California-style outdoor mall, replete with fake Parisian buildings. This is NOT what most of Bandung looks like. It's more of a hyper-real monument to what Bandung residents imagine it used to be. 

I love the way Siro combines Muslim modesty with an urban edge in these shots. She had no idea (or interest) in what brands she was wearing, but she clearly knows how to pull a look together.

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