Seven groundbreaking modest-style designers showed us why oft-overlooked Indonesia deserves a seat at the front of the house when it comes to trends, textile, traditional prints, and innovation within a modern modest wardrobe. This season’s show was the most extensive show yet for the running showcase, highlighting Indonesian brands on the New York City runway with the firm support of the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia.
Modestwear is currently having its moment in contemporary and mainstream fashion. High street brands such as Nike are releasing specific modest collections, Vogue and other press publications around the globe have been commenting in the past year on how more modest style has entered the fashion mainstream, and social media platforms like Tiktok are changing the younger narrative around how dressing up while covering up can be uber-cool.
Each of the seven top-tier designers showing at the Indonesia Now collection brought a distinctly unique style to the runway, showing that modest fashion can most certainly still fit every taste and preference. From dusty muted earth tones to glimmering gold threads, textile variety was in abundance. Signature silhouettes and styles also clearly stood out from brand to brand, as some collections focused on traditional garments whereas others took an extremely modern approach playing with proportions and fabrics. Throughout the entire show, the music was energetic, playful, and current, matching the contemporary energy of the presentations.
In particular, the collection from Zeta Privé proved to be a bold standout – approaching designs with a uniquely daring perspective that felt especially current. The designer paired eye-catching references to Paris and New York City with traditional Indonesian textiles and garment modesty. Perfectly encapsulating the melting-pot energy of NYC and its boundary-pushing fashions, this seasonal collection presented opulent tulle, streamlined silhouettes, tailored blazers, and dramatic metallic threads mixed with bold black piping on blush toned tulle. The designer’s styling with accessories was unmatched compared to the rest of the showcase – the fashion audience was raptly focused on the stunning golden Empire State buildings swinging from models’ ears, necks, waists, and hairpieces as a jewellery design, creating a buzz amongst the crowd as models walked by. Bringing the idea of a “contemporary mix of classic style with distinctively American streetwear style” to life, the mixture of these creative embellishments with the soft but versatile, modern yet traditional collection proved to be a true hit with the NYC style crowd. Innovative silhouettes such as a vest and wide tulle skirt combination and a simple cut blouse and pant full of edgy embellishment details showed Zeta Privé’s prowess at fusing treasured Indonesian tradition with the modern streetwear style, aligned with the designer’s goal of “combining the best Indo-artisans’ abilities with fashion design to create a Pret-á-Couture collection.” For the modest style lover, Zeta Privé needs to be an outstanding brand both forefront on your radar and in your closet.
Bringing an equal sense of innovation mixed with refreshing sustainability, AM by Anggiasari Mawardi alternately pushed the concept eco-consciousness to the forefront via utilising denim garments rejected from local factories due to defects or overstock – turning these into attractive and darker unconventional looks that still kept a modest shape. The designs were more gender-neutral compared to other designers, and rang reminiscent of Margiela and other lauded deconstructed avant-garde brands. Sustainability has been a bit of a trendy topic in the fashion world over the last five years, and rightfully so. AM collaborated this season with eco-friendly brand Boolao’s concept of “Shibori on Ecoprint textiles” – combining techniques featuring natural dyes with authentic design on various silk materials for a Komorebi theme. Komorebi is a Japanese word referring to the delicate sunlight filtering through gaps in the tree leaves, mirroring the tie-dye appearance created by the manual Shibori technique (known in Indonesia as Jumputan or Sasirangan traditionally.) Combined with the Eco-printing process of imprinting natural plants to fabric, the collection’s use of silk, handwoven locally-grown cotton, organza, linen, and lace fabrics in earthy tones served as a beautiful homage to our planet and its flora. Keeping with the theme of female empowerment honoured by multiple Indonesia Now designers this season, AM by Anggiasari also empowers women in the Sayang Village of West Java with its inspirations of Indonesian wastra and use of handmade traditional textiles and corresponding patterns.
Other curation of talent for the Indonesia Now showcase also included KAMI of HGLModest, which aims to meet the needs of the urban modest-modern woman taking inspiration from local treasure Kain Tapis from Lampung with clean and uncluttered lines and natural colours. Nada Puspita brought their similar mission of empowering confidence for every woman to the stage, featuring feminine and comfortable designs in a delicate palette of midnight blues, soft warm washes, and pastels. In contrast, Buttonscarves by Linda Anggrea focused on bolder fashion accessories from scarves to bags in prints and modern pops of colour on a neutral timeless base. The Buttonscarves brand is rapidly growing, recently entered the beauty space through its perfume release, and is building offline stores in more than 30 retail spaces in Indonesia. Another designer, Lenny Hartono, debuted flowers as her brand’s signature and has since incorporated different shapes and colours derived from nature’s breathtaking floral map in this latest collection. Hartono incorporated songket, which is Indonesian traditional handwoven fabric, in earth and gold tones to mirror this inspiration in a beautifully obvious nod to the country’s cultural heritage. The seventh strong collection of the Indonesia Now showing also included a powerful collaboration through Basundar x Batik Tusmi – pairing experienced designers Ayu Dya Andari and Sally Giovanny to bring handmade Batik textile with Cirebon West Java signature to the stage in a mission to preserve the art of batik through batik craftsman developing their business through digital as a marketing medium. The collection presented a youthful elegance in garments in vibrant colours and soft neutral prints for an artistic representation of utopian nature, with cheery head-to-toe varying patterning on garments that stood out amongst a sea of neutrals in the room.
Not to be overlooked by the naïve local fashionista, Indonesia Now as a whole certainly showed up and showed out as a wonderful introduction for a new NYC audience to groundbreaking designers from halfway around the world. Fantastically curated and distinctly unique, each of the seven highlighted designers brought new takes on modest fashion to the table, and proved Indonesia to be a true leader in contemporary modest fashion combining traditional techniques with new angles and avenues. The celebrated Indonesia Now show was created by Dina Fatimah with the aim to focus on placing top Indonesian design talent on a global stage to highlight the beauty and richness of their homeland through a modern fashion lens for new audiences.
Words by LAUR @laur.weeks
Photography: Victoria Bruno, https://www.victoriabrunostudios.com/