I have always loved discovering new fashion brands, particularly those from Asian countries. I feel that there is a wealth of cultural and creative nuances that Asian designers bring to the global fashion market.
In the current age of global lockdown, it is worth taking your time to reach out and discover new brands and new ways of wearing fashion from around the world. After all, online shopping is still going strong, even if it may take a little longer to get your hands on the goods.
Toton Januar was born in Makassar and raised by his seamstress mother, developing a taste for the more artisanal aspect of fashion construction. After moving to Jakarta, the designer worked as a model, and a designer, and eventually studied fashion at Parsons New School of Design in New York.
The brand was launched in 2012 in collaboration with another top Indonesian designer Haryo Balitar. Toton’s concept is about “a retelling of Indonesia’s inherent stories”, and focuses on traditional textile practices mixed with an avant garde sensibility, think deconstructed fabrications and non-gendered cuts and shapes.
Toton, the designer, uses ceremonial and folk cultural clothing shapes mixed with more menswear-inspired cuts and patterns to create a ready-to-wear collection that is an inspired mix of wabi-sabi, and boho chic.
This season the collection has a deep, earthy feel to it, with feature embroidery echoing leaf litter on a jungle floor. The more deconstructed concepts are kept to a minimum with many more wearable separates than in previous collections. Tones of khaki, dirt green, and soft brown is leavened with lots of white making this a very wearable outing from the designer.
Shop Toton online at www.masarishop.com/brands/toton.
Designer Monique Soeriaatmadja is a powerhouse of a designer with a number of labels and a growing family. Soe Jakarta was created to celebrate Indonesia’s traditional handwoven textiles by combining them into sharp, modern womenswear. The textiles are a collaboration between the designer and traditional artisans located all over the archipelago.
While Soe Jakarta is a ready-to-wear label, there is a component of bespoke production, which makes this a label designed more for unique clothing that you may have to pre-order, rather than trend based fast fashion. Soe Jakarta is a great example of celebrating traditional textile practices while also being more sustainable, and definitely offering something for the ethical consumer.
Soe Jakarta produces small collections and in small quantities. The current collection is rather abstract with simple shapes embellished with drapery or bodices of the handmade fabrics. There is a mix of menswear inspired jackets, but the overall feel is that of the ‘Mori Girl’ – country, comfortable, natural.
Shop Soe Jakarta online at www.soejakarta.com/shop.
Founded in 2008, Purana is the OG of independent Indonesian fashion brands. Designer Nonita grew up in a traditional Javanese family that owned a traditional batik workshop, which eventually led her to first working in fashion media, before launching her brand.
The name means ‘old scripture’ in Sanskrit, and has always had an ethical and cultural component. The designer worked with traditional artisans from the launch of the brand with the aim of creating fabrics that fuse batik, hand-weaving, and tie-dying with geometric patterns and more wearable modern cuts and designs.
The bulk of the garments are designed to be ‘free size’, which is not really one-size-fits-all, but more about loose-cut, relaxed clothing. Multi-function, and multi-styleable designs have been used to ensure a wider range of body types can be fitted.
Purana is a brand for lovers of colour, print and comfort. This is the perfect label for summer, with its loose fits and cool fabrics. The current collection features lucious batik prints in soft blues and greens on eco-friendly fabrics.
Shop Purana online at puranaindonesia.com/collections.
So, those are three Indonesian fashion brands I’ve been watching for a while. Which one is your favourite?