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Indonesia Now: Reimagining Modest Fashion With Ivan Gunawan and Linda Anggrea

Ask a friend to make a list of famous designer brands. Tell them to list as many as they can within a minute. Alternatively, try it yourself and see what names you end up with. Most people, myself included, will have a list with plenty of Western designers. Names that tend to roll off the tongue include Ralph Lauren, Dior, Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, and Versace—the list can go on and on, but one thing remains evident: this demographic has been able to push their work onto the global stage. Prestigious events and mainstream media outlets will always spotlight their work.

However, this is changing. Designers from Asia, Africa, and South America have received international praise in recent years. Red carpets and catwalks are becoming more diverse, with London Fashion Week being at the forefront of this shift within the fashion industry.

Indonesia Now:

Indonesia Now, an evening show occurring as part of London Fashion Week, is a collective project run by designers from the Indonesian archipelago. Two commonalities tie their collections together: femininity and modest fashion. Modest fashion is popular in many regions of Indonesia; women choose to dress modestly for spiritual reasons, leading to the popularisation of looser, less revealing garments.

Through the global media landscape, modest dressing has transcended local cultures. Fashion moguls have drawn attention to the beauty of elegant, flowing silhouettes. This led to the creation of a new fashion aesthetic that revolves around modest clothing. Indonesia Now capitalises on this by showcasing modest fashion in a way that stretches the imagination. Whether you prefer striking neon colours or regal ruff collars and glistening pearls, there’s something for everyone.

Indonesia Before:

Growing up in Indonesia, I noticed that traditional patterns and methods of garment production remain popular in the present day. For instance, batik has never gone out of style. Batik’s signature style can be spotted in clothing stores, souvenir shops, and art installations across the country.

Masters of batik are able to produce intricate patterns by repeating a few simple elements. Perhaps these historical roots have shaped the aesthetic aspirations of modern designers. Batik encourages creative expression by inspiring people to mix and match different motifs, allowing them to create an endless number of patterns. Though Indonesia Now doesn’t explicitly incorporate batik into the show, many of the designers have a clear love for pattern-making. Without relying on traditional forms of art, they were able to showcase how patterns can make a significant impact in fashion–check out the repeated motifs in Linda Anggrea’s work and the ornamental flowers from Ivan Gunawan’s collection. When I think of their designs, and when I think of batik, I feel a similar kind of adoration.

In conversation with Linda Anggrea, CEO of Buttonscarves

Photo by Stefi Komala

Linda, who is a successful entrepreneur and mother of four, wants to celebrate women. Her collection was crafted to empower women. “That’s why you can see very strong silhouettes. [The collection] is very bold,” she states. In her design process, Linda does not prioritise innovation or perfection. Her ambition is to “create a brand that can be relatable to everybody around the world.” “If we want to go global, we need to have a product that can appeal to every target market,” she says. Linda believes that memorable branding is the key to achieving this. In this collection, she adorns multiple garments with patterns that have been created by repeating the Buttonscarves logo. By doing so, she hopes to create a strong brand identity for Buttonscarves.

There’s no doubt that her brand is on a mission to create statement pieces. Their marketing strategy is just as conspicuous—earlier this year, Buttonscarves was responsible for the giant bag installation in Times Square. The brand commands attention from its audience, even in the most jam-packed area of New York. Linda does not shy away from bold moves, and she believes that young people should do the same. She encourages budding fashionistas and entrepreneurs to take a leap of faith. “The earlier you start, the earlier you make mistakes. And the earlier you can fix your mistakes,” she says.

In conversation with Ivan Gunawan

Photo by Stefi Komala

Ivan’s collection is inspired by flowers, particularly English roses. Instead of drawing inspiration from other designers, Ivan prefers to draw on his own experiences. “I get ideas from what I see and what I feel,” he says. For instance, he states that his travels and emotions have influenced his creations. His design process is spontaneous and highly introspective, making it the perfect method for creative expression. Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere, including himself. Furthermore, his personal taste influences the overall direction of his work. Ivan likes clothing that looks feminine and feels effortless. He wants to embrace these elements without copying trends. Ivan strives to create something original; he expresses his love for experimentation by mentioning that he likes to “play with motifs and prints.”

His overarching goal is to create a timeless body of work, but his current focus is to go global. 2023 marks his international debut; for the first time in his career, Ivan is presenting his collections in New York, London, and Paris. By visiting the fashion capitals of the world, he hopes to establish a stronger awareness of his brand. In the near future, he wants to open his first shops in London and Paris.

Ivan has one major tip for people interested in fashion-related careers: learn “how to make a business and how to grow a business.” He believes that creativity, along with a solid business plan, is the best foundation one could have.

Predictions for the Future:

“Going global” is a dream for both seasoned designers and rising stars. Though it’s not easy to achieve this goal, I have a good feeling about the future of Indonesian fashion. The designers of Indonesia Now are already making waves in the Southeast Asian market; it’s only a matter of time until someone cracks the code to success. In my view, the most successful brands will be the ones which have created memorable looks for their international debuts. A brand that is easily distinguishable will be difficult to forget–and when a brand can stay relevant, it becomes much easier to build a loyal customer base.


Edited by Megan Shears, Fashion Editor


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