Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jakarta Street Style: Indah, Mal Pondok Indah

This is Indah, looking bright and chic in a hijab and modest (though colorful) Muslim dress. Her name means "beautiful" in Indonesian, and the mall I shot these in, appropriately, is the mall of Pondok Indah, a neighborhood in South Jakarta, Indonesia, that translates to "Beautiful Corner."  

For the next three weeks, I will be shooting street style in Jakarta and Bandung, two of the cities in Indonesia, for those of you keeping track, where I have previously done ethnographic fieldwork. As always, it's surreal to be back here.I get this strange sensation of continuity between my trips, like I've never actually left in the first place. Meanwhile, Jakarta keeps changing around me.

Shooting street style in Jakarta is a funny thing, though. In fact shooting on the streets themselves is a virtual impossibility. Why? You ask. Because they look like this.

And this.

And the sidewalks look like this. 

There is nowhere to walk. The streets barely move. There is, frankly, no place for style to conceivably take place on them. So style happens at malls instead, where the middle class can escape the noise and particulate matter that saturates the air. Jakarta's developers were unable to fix the streets. So they built an alternative city indoors. 

Shooting in malls makes for a very different street style experience than I'm used to. It's not my favorite, I have to admit. But I had fun anyway. The three people I photographed today were incredibly kind and gracious, if a little uncomfortable with the whole thing, some white dude with long hair, a beard, and a beanie walking up to them carrying a big ass camera. I can speak Indonesian, so that helps, and they had no trouble understanding the concept of what I was doing. Indonesia has more bloggers per capita than just about anywhere. One in four Indonesians with Internet access has their own blog. And that's not counting the number of Indonesians who microblog. Indonesia is now something like number two in the world for Twitter users and fifth for Facebook. 

For those of you who know nothing else about Indonesia, here's a (very) brief primer: It's the world's fourth largest nation, with a population of some 230 million people spread out across 17,000 islands in Southeast Asia. I'm only going to be on Java for the duration of my trip. Java, however, accounts for half the country's population. Most of you have probably drunk coffee from here. Most of you probably have at least one item of clothing manufactured here. Indonesia is also an incredibly diverse place, with some 300 hundred ethnic groups speaking hundreds of different languages. There are dozens of religions practiced, though most Indonesians (around 90%) claim Islam on their identification cards. That would make it the country with the world's biggest Muslim population. It's got beautiful beaches and some of the densest rainforests, oil and minerals, orangutans and tigers. Most Americans, however, know it for two other things, if they know it at all: tsunamis and terrorism. Hopefully over the next few weeks of my style survey, your impression will have expanded.  


  1. These are so beautiful! I'm excited to see more of Indonesia here over the next few weeks!

  2. This was an amazing introduction to a nation that I, ignorantly, knew not much about. I really look forward to following your posts over the next three weeks.


  3. wow, i love her dress. and thanks for the introduction to Indonesia.


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