Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Valerie Samantha, Jakarta Fashion Week

Whenever I start to think that Jakarta Fashion Week is one thing, I see something — or someone — that shows me it's quite another. There is no doubt that Islamic fashion is a major part of JFW. Since the fall of Suharto in 1998, the government's efforts to suppress hardline Islam have subsided. A variety of Islamic organizations have risen to prominence, and public expressions of Islamic faith have become much more common, particularly in politics and clothing. When I first came to Indonesia in 1996, about 1 in 10 women in urban Java would wear hijab (jilbab in local parlance). Now it seems closer to 1 in 2, perhaps even 2 out of 3. This is equally true at JFW, where the majority of attendees are bedecked in long, flowing dresses, multiple layers, and some variety of headscarf. But not everyone. Valerie Samantha's look illustrates a very different trend. Streetwear is on the rise here, with brands like Vaya Con Dios, Monstore, Anye by Angez Mo, and Apparel After Dark attempting to redefine what it means to be young and urbane. The Goods Dept, a Jakarta-based youth clothing store at several prominent malls in Jakarta, has played an important role in promoting these brands. So has Brightspot Market, a multi-brand pop up shop that happens at least twice a year. Ok, so some of what they produce is derivative. The bomber jackets, bucket hats, and board shorts I saw at the Hype Street Fashion show at JFW the other day were a bit too aligned with what's going on in streetwear internationally. And the hip hop dancers bedecked in "Caution: Do Not Enter" tape didn't do much to elevate local street cred. But still, there's cool stuff happening — both in Islamic fashion and in more secular streetwear. Frankly, what I would like to see more of in Indonesia is Islamic streetwear. That's a niche market that Indonesia — the most populous majority Muslim nation on earth — is uniquely positioned to fill!

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