Modest fashion designers march on

The industry, which is made up of designers from Muslim-majority markets, is seeing a rising interest from non-Muslim labels, too

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic credit:

THE exponential growth of the modest fashion industry and halal market should be the main motivation to push modest fashion designers to quickly react and adopt the latest trends while weaving elements of local cultures to their works.

New ways of working, which include current practices such as sustainability and innovation, should also be incorporated in the designs and finished products.

At the recent Indonesia Sharia Economic Festival (ISEF) 2020’s virtual fashion show, Bank Indonesia deputy governor Rosmaya Hadi said the modest fashion industry — which is made up of designers from Muslim-majority markets such as the Middle East, Turkey and Indonesia — is also seeing a rising interest from non-Muslim labels.

“Adaptation may also be something designers will have to do in facing challenges, as well as how to market their products.

“Now, while we have these things to deal with, we are confident that our fashion designers are capable of achieving success in the global market, with their creativity, innovation and local characteristics becoming a part of our unique pattern,” she said.

She added that Western labels are also trying to win a slice of the market to take advantage of the market’s luxurious worth — sitting at US$283 billion (RM1.15 trillion) in 2018 and is projected to grow to US$402 billion by 2024.

Hadi said designers should also consider sustainability as an important element in their works, as the industry has been reported to be among the main contributors to global pollution.

“Because of that, our theme is sustainability, and it is something that we must observe and watch actively,” she said.

Hadi said ethical fashion has always been in the roots of Indonesian fashion, which has also influenced the process of creating local textiles.

“For example, the colouring of ulos uses colours that are originated from nature such as flowers and fruits.

“This is an example of the local intelligence and knowledge that we must capitalise and optimise in order to keep growing the Indonesian-Muslim ethical fashion industry,” she said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created “new norms”, and the fashion industry seems to be adapting fine.

In place of runway shows are virtual fashion events that could reach to even more viewers.

The purists among fashionistas, however, might question the “legitimacy” of such events.

If a fashion show is pre-recorded, how is it different from the regular fashion advertisement?

On the first day of the ISEF 2020’s virtual fashion show, nine designers were chosen by each representative of Bank Indonesia.

They were Itang Yunasz, Vivi Zubedi, Deden Siswanto, Lisa Fitria, with accessories by Ilham Pinastiko, Dibya Hody, Neera Alatas, Irna Mutiara, Wignyo and Alvy Oktrisni.

Each collection was depicted in an isolated runway room, with each designer showcasing their designs in their very unique ways.

The new concept also allows for a liberal presentation of the designers’ collections, with some opting for “music video-esque” directing.

Batik Jambi

Fashion designer Yunasz showcases a very traditional Indonesian red and black collection of modest two-piece sets printed with Batik Jambi patterns (

For example, fashion designer Yunasz showcased a very traditional Indonesian red and black collection of modest two-piece sets printed with Batik Jambi patterns, which is representative to the province located in the east coast of central Sumatra.

The Batik Jambi is known for its seamless patterns of evenly spaced flowers: Uniform yet bold.

Yunasz chose simple and loose shapes in his designs, which seems very casual yet stylish when paired with the intricate and repeating patterns on the stylised batik.

To top the look off, he also paired his two-piece sets with handbags from Rumah Batik Azmiah, which included small handbags printed with batik patterns and traditional large round, gold accessories.

His models were presented on the runway wearing the collection — stationary yet firm in their poses as the camera panned out, lit with strong red spotlights to further emphasise the bold usage of the colour in his collection.

The Colours of Lagosi

Meanwhile, fashion designer Siswanto, who represents South Sulawesi, was more focused on heavy-set silhouette, with an emphasis on “modesty” by utilising pastel Lagosi fabric colours.

Going with a more conventional runway direction, he installed mirrors on the floor where his models would walk — showing off the frills and the open shape of the skirt, while making sure that modest fashion remained modest, and no women should be worried about upskirts.

The lighting for his showcase was more soft, a theatre-like spotlight from above, which gave off a more pastel atmosphere in the room; fitting for the light pink and blues that adorned his designs, while emphasising on the more “poofy” silhouettes and hoods for the winter-esque collection.

His collection also featured shoes by Akar, which utilised leather in its boots and sneakers designs, adding earthy tones to the pastel hues of the Lagosi fabric that Siswanto used.

Completing the look were darker accessories, such as a dark purple neck scarf styled into a bow on a pastel pink crop parka and a wide, loose light blue dress underneath.

Modest ‘White Liar’

From Sibolga was fashion designer Fitria who adopted a more “modern” and unapologetically “urban” style, with her theme “White Liar”.

Featuring accessories by Pala Nusantara and shoes from Tegep, Fitria used three different patterns of the traditional cloth ulos, which is the traditional cloth of the Batak people of North Sumatra, Indonesia.

The patterns she chose were harungguan, which is worn during festivities of the Batak people; sibolang, which is used by the Batak women who had only just gotten married, thus represents waves that inspire its wearer to face the challenges in life; and bolean (from the root word boli, meaning “loyal”), which was worn by wives of kings in the past.

Shapes and patterns were also prominent in Fitria’s designs that feature two-piece outfits that were topped with outerwear, mainly with a hood.

The bottom pieces were also shorter than those seen in Siswanto’s designs which were longer.

Fitria seemed to have chosen the more “practical” and casual route, with the skirts only going down as far as the calves, with the rest of the legs covered in patterned socks.

The patterns printed on the outerwear for her collections were perhaps the most basic, easy-to-pair modern stripes at first look.

However, if one were to pay attention, patterns unique to the motifs she had chosen can be seen in between, with a pop of colour such as yellow against dark blue.

The design of her clothing follows the trend of outerwear, a long-sleeved top and patterned skirt, both loose and tight-fitting, topped off with bold-coloured boots from Tegep.

Many other fashion designers showcased their works throughout the three-day event, with a peek into the works of 164 designers from the neighbouring country and 720 looks, offerings in four different categories such as ready-towear, accessories, traditional textile and syar’i (modest).