From Lombok to New York Grand dreams for modest wear; Indonesian Designers take modest wear to New York Couture Fashion Week

From Lombok to New York

Grand dreams for modest wear; Indonesian Designers take modest wear to New York Couture Fashion Week

By Rigche Ma
All photos by Yuki Kunishima

New York, Feb. 15, 2015, – Straight “From Lombok to New York”, four Indonesian designers presented their collections at the New York Couture Fashion Week, and staged an additional trunk show with the support of notable Indonesian officials – including the Indonesian President, Ministry of Tourism, the Governor of Nusa Tenggara Barat (an Indonesian province) and corporate sponsors Wardah Beauty Cosmetics Indonesia and OPPO Indonesia, to further showcase selected pieces.


Incongruous to the biting chill outside, an almost tropical warmth pervaded the interior of the Indonesian Consulate General on the Upper East Side, where make-shift tables and clothing racks proudly displayed the latest Lombok fabric inspired designs by Asri Welas, Dian Pelangi, Barli Asmara, and Zaskia Sungkar.  Lombok is an island west of Nusa Tenggara Barat, famed for its breathtaking beaches as much as its exquisitely hand-woven fabrics. Notoriously laborious to manufacture – a 4 meter length is worth more than three months of careful, painstaking work. However, Lombok fabric is not the only common thread that runs through this season’s collections. The show’s emphasis also fell on a category of fashion, less often in the mainstream spotlight, known as Modest Wear.


Said Chiara Sari, Vice Consul for Economic Affairs at the Indonesian Consulate General, “Indonesia has plans to put itself on the map for hijab fashion and modest wear. We have a diverse population of some 240 million, with over 300 ethnicities speaking more than 700 languages and dialects. Our designers draw from this rich heritage, and incorporate traditional fabrics, such as batik, and of course, the Lombok fabrics, into modern designs. In the last 5 years or so, younger people also found renewed interest in, and have become proud to wear these traditions, so to speak. ”


Modest wear need not be dull or insipid, and is a market that can potentially span beyond Muslim communities, according to Dian Pelangi, whose line is already available in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Indeed, Pelangi means ‘rainbow’ in Bahasa Indonesia, and Dian reflects the colorful characteristics of her birthplace – Sumatra, the largest island in the Indonesian archipelago, with bold and bright reds, green and gold in her designs.


Asri Welas, founder of the House of Asri Welas, describes her pieces as ‘something different’, because the details of fabric woven by techniques passed down through generations distinguishes themselves from mass-produced products. The seasoned designer, who is also a popular television presenter, and has designed bridal wear for several high profile Indonesian personalities, coyly mused about the hijab, ‘Maybe next year, I will wear the hijab too. Maybe, maybe.’


At the forefront of hijabi fashion, is also Zaskia Sungkar, who brings a touch of class to modest wear. Last but not least, Barli Asmara, the only male designer among this year’s presenters, consciously finds matches within his designs, such as pairing traditional fabrics with city chic.


To complete the commendable effort to bring modest wear into the public eye, the Indonesian Consulate General generously added a dose of Indonesian hospitality and sent guests home with gift packs of traditional Indonesian cuisine, so that the entire experience can be truly savored.


For more information about the designers, visit: