Collage of images from JFW2016
Jakarta Fashion Week is not over yet, two more days to go, including the grand finale tomorrow but I have been thinking a lot about everything I saw and heard over the past few days and can't help writing about a few things that really struck me and which I have been mulling over.
First, there is the sheer diversity of approaches and philosophies of fashion on display. Whoever thinks that Indonesian fashion is all about 'modest fashion' is very wrong. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, accounting for nearly 80% of the overall population of the country - figures vary depending on sources - but it is not an Islamic country. Muslim fashion from Indonesia may be well known in the Euro-American world thanks to designers like the Sumatran Dian Pelangi, fresh from a residence at London College of Fashion, and with a recent show in New York under her belt. But there is plenty of other fashion which does definitely not make use of hijabs. Nor does this mean that its creators, who may well be themselves Muslim (as I said Islam is the dominant religion in this country) are bad Muslims for not designing clothes that include a hijab!
A footnote here will not go amiss: I know that in the UK and elsewhere Muslim fashion is known as 'modest fashion', a term that is very loaded, under its political correctness, but I am translating directly from the Indonesian term which is busana Muslim, that is, Muslim fashion.
I do not think the Indonesian busana Muslim is necessarily a strong religious identity marker as such: the more I see it, the more I perceive it as just a fashion, and only one of many trends. Thus I am wary of the way it is being construed outside Indonesia and it troubles me that it colours the perception of lifestyle in this country with just one hue. Indonesia is not Saudi Arabia. It has a richness of cultures (note the plural) and this is not only acknowledged and more or less respected by the Indonesians themselves, it is also important that people outside Indonesia should be aware of this diversity.
There is nothing like fashion to allow for an expression of diverse creativity, as fashion is, as I noted elsewhere, underpinned by culture.
Busana Muslim, JFW
JFW: it's not all about busana MuslimI went to the events and really wanted to hear the views of the people attending them. There was a huge elephant in the room and everyone was careful not to acknowledge its presence, not even Lucy Siegle ventured into that area, even though in her day job, as she put it, she is an environmentalist. I guess being an official guest can sometimes put one in a very difficult position, unsure of what can and should be said. Indonesia at the moment is going through one of the worst possible ecological disasters, the haze from its burning forests, in Sumatra and Borneo, with millions of people affected with respiratory disease. It is connected with palm oil and the slash and burn policy. It is not only about peatland, that would be taking an extremely narrow view. Is fashion implicated in this chain and at what point? Well, what do you think? What are the many uses of palm oil?
Lucy Siegle at the Press Conference on sustainability, with LCF students and Adam Pushkin, British CouncilYes, fashion could certainly begin to mark a change, were it to embrace sustainability, making those all important decisions concerning the environment - the current ecological disaster is not just an Indonesian matter, we live on the same planet. But how can sustainability be implemented? This is the question some people have asked. Education and training are paramount. It is not just a matter of going back to using natural dyes, as Jakarta Post journalist Lynda Ibrahim points out in her blog. A lot more dots need to be joined.
I have a great deal more to say on sustainability and diversity, how the two are and can be connected, and the issue that is dear to my heart, that of representation. But all this will have to wait for now, as I have to get ready to attend Day #6 of JFW.
(All photos of varying quality, including iOS uploads taken by me unless otherwise specified)