As the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia has high demand for clothing that adheres to religious rules emphasizing modesty for women.
But as the stylish, colourful and cool outfits at Jakarta Fashion Week showed, the Southeast Asian nation also aims to be the global leader in the Muslim fashion industry that is worth nearly $100 billion by some estimates.
Indonesia’s government is championing young designers and the garment trade, which employs more than 3 million people and contributes about $15 billion to the economy.
“We can be the trend-setter,” said Mari Pangestu, the tourism and creative economy minister. “We have the vision and mission that Indonesia can be the capital of Muslim fashion.”
Often perceived as conservative and requiring women to be covered from head to toe, the rules range from strict interpretations of modesty in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan to more moderate versions in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Headdresses are compulsory in any case and outfits should not be tight or see-through, but the three young Indonesians who kicked off Jakarta Fashion Week were clearly challenging stereotypes with their ready-to-wear collections.
Nur Zahra showed folk designs in organic materials with natural colours, mainly indigo and khaki.
Jenahara Nasution’s Eastern Opulence line was sleekly cut with linings of flowing organdy and chiffon silk, accented with traditional Tasikmalaya embroidery from West Java.
Dian Wahyu Utami’s Dian Pelangi brand delved into the 1960s with bursts of bright colours in batik prints.