If somebody had told us a year ago that the Indonesian Fashion Industry was in line as one of the world’s emerging fashion industries, we would’ve laughed. There were stray Indonesian names that landed in the international community, such as Tex Saverio for the Hunger Games, Peggy Hartanto who is a go-to label for Hollywood celebrities, and Anne Avantie that never fails to adorn beauty pageants with the most regal, beautiful Kebayas. Okay, maybe the international community knew about Batiks, but that was about it.
While Indonesia is lesser known for its designs, we are, however, popular for our textile industry. As one of the world’s largest garment exporter, Indonesia is known for cheap, reliable goods, and sends its better products to consumer markets, like the United States, Europe, and Japan. Our country is better known for its craftsmen and seamstresses; skilled workers who sew together pieces with preexisting designs from customers, rather than a designer who actually designs clothes.
This fact is going to change soon.
Within a year, numerous Indonesian designers have sprouted up with spectacular, beautifully intricate designs that have caught international attention. Whether it be Hollywood, the rapidly growing Chinese market, or even closer shores in Singapore, Indonesian labels are making a statement that we’re a force to be reckoned.
For the next few weeks, we will be covering local designers that have made a mark in the local fashion industry, and are generating waves in the international fashion community. These designers are taking their homegrown labels and getting ready to face the global fashion panel.
One designer who’s stepping on the world stage to showcase her sui generis designs is Ingrid Husodo. In 2013, the Sydney graduate dressed 3 Miss World candidates in traditional clothing inspired by Indonesia’s architecture. Since then, her pieces have appeared in numerous publications, both local and international, and her designs lauded by various critics, which has earned her the nickname, “Fashion show darling”.
“The Indonesian fashion industry is getting better and it’s a good time for us now since the country is beginning to appreciate fashion. I think in the next 10 years, you will see a lot of Indonesian designers go international. There are already so many local designers going international now.
Not because they can afford to, but because they are talented enough to go global.”
A few days past her appearance at Jakarta Fashion Week 2015, we got the chance to have this reputable designer come by our studio. She was dressed in rather simple clothing; a major contrast from her elaborate, whimsical designer pieces. Up-close, Ingrid Husodo is quiet and undemanding. She approaches things with caution and leaves things to people in-charge. To those who don’t know her, she may seem lost and unfocused, but she is actually processing everything around her and taking mental notes.
Her latest collection called “Aftermath” was inspired by Indonesia’s time under Japanese colony. As with every other Ingrid Husodo collection, every piece in the series is part of a larger theme. There are various details representing the war, such as half a girl’s face, two roses, and copious amounts of smoke.
With every visionary collection she churns out, the creative process gets harder each time. “Sometimes as a designer, you can’t just find the idea in a blink of an eye. You have to brainstorm; you have to dig down there.”
For Ingrid’s creative process, she captures pictures of her inspirations and gathers them on her mood board. She picks out a main focus for her collection, and from there, her abstract ideas come to life. She would add wings, she would construct the flow of the skirts, and she would experiment with different fabrics sewn together. When you see an Ingrid Husodo piece, you sometimes think, “Where can I wear this to?” The balance between creativity and commerce never gets easier for the Semarang-based designer.
Ingrid herself admits that she is a very conceptual person so she often goes over the top with her designs. She tries her best to keeps things simple so it can balance with customers’ demands. On how she achieves this balance, she stresses the importance of selling the collection. It’s also one of the things she wished her younger designer self would understand.
“I would tell my old self to do more commercial designs with simpler silhouettes”.
With designs as unique as her, Ingrid finds it hard to pick a designer she looks up to. Every designer has his or her own signature look and she likes each designer in general, without one she religiously follows. “For example, Ricardo Tisci for Givenchy, he has this randomness to him but it’s amazing to see how he wraps up one collection. Sometimes it can be so romantic, and sometimes it can be really dark.”
There’s also the part where she has no celebrity style icons. Ingrid Husodo’s collection is a rare sight on influencers. The few times she actually endorses influencers, her clothes never fail to get people talking. “You know there are some bloggers who wear clothes just for the sake of wearing it. They don’t bring life to those clothes. So I see which bloggers can bring new perspectives into my clothes and choose them based on that.
I would be happy if they can create a spark with my clothes.”
Isn’t it rather puzzling how Ingrid has no model designer she looks up to, and no celebrity muse she adores? After all, the fashion industry and celebrity culture are tightly woven together. “I dress according to myself. I’m very random. Sometimes I can be very edgy, and sometimes I can be very casual. Sometimes I feel weird because my friends have their favorites.
But I do me, I do Ingrid”.
Of course, it was the only way it made sense. There is only one person in this world that can come up with designs as whimsical and distinct as Ingrid Husodo, and that person is none other than herself. There is no other designer in this world who can sew together mesh and satin and turn it into something so beautifully feminine, with a dash of edgy, and a whole load of dream-like prints.
If you knew what Ingrid’s workshop is like, you’d know that it’s a one-woman show for her label. From administration, to handling customer service, and to designing, it’s all in a day’s work for her. There is a lot of pressure on her side, especially now that she’s the youngest member of Asosiasi Perancang Pengusaha Mode (APPMI) in Central Java. Sometimes she would detox from her work, shut away everything, and travel for 2-3 days.
Her advice to fresh designers is to never stop learning, and to perfect pattern making. “Even in pictures, you can tell if the fit is bad or if the linings are messy. You can improve on sowing, but pattern making is crucial. And also to never stop learning, because sometimes designers become cocky in terms of criticism. You have to be able to take criticisms constructively. There are so many things to learn so always be humble, and never stop learning”.
It’s a little difficult for this small-town designer to cater needs all the way in Jakarta, which is why she’s planning on making the big move to the capital city. Her first boutique is set to open this December in Fairgrounds, SCBD. She’s still on the fence whether she wants to permanently move to Jakarta or not. “Even from the beginning when I started fashion, I knew I had to move to Jakarta. It’s the capital city, it’s where everything is”.
Semarang is not lacking in fashion communities; there are actually a lot of designers in Semarang. It’s rather just a difference in lifestyles. “Most people in Semarang are pretty laidback. For example, in Semarang, if you wear designer clothes to the mall, people will look at you weird.”
Ingrid has to consider leaving the comfort of her family members and moving to the big city with bright lights. There are a lot of things she still doesn’t know, especially when it comes to production, but she is grateful for APPMI in having her back. “A lot of the designers inside the organization are seniors, so they’re very willing to help out junior designers”. Everybody has their own signature look, so it’s less of a competition and more towards empowering designers in creating a better fashion industry in Indonesia.
There’s still an abundance of milestones that this aspiring designer wants to achieve in her career. From going international and improving her craft, Ingrid wishes to be a better designer, not in just the next 5 years, but for the rest of her life. She’s been through significant moments in her life, notably when she designed for Miss World in 2013, and we’re sure there will be more breakthrough days in the future.
Shop Ingrid’s collection here