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            [post_content] => Jakarta. In commemoration of the birth of national heroine Kartini on Friday (21/04), women in government offices and schools wear kebayas or other traditional costumes to celebrate this special day.

"I think it's more than a mere ceremonial or symbolical gesture," Taruna K. Kusmayadi, adviser at the Indonesia Fashion Chamber (IFC), said during a talk show at AlunAlun in the Grand Indonesia shopping center in Central Jakarta on Thursday.

"By wearing traditional costumes on Kartini Day, we adopt Kartini's spirit for women's independence and betterment and perpetuate that spirit in today's generation," Taruna said.

Kartini, who was born and raised in an aristocratic family in Central Java, fought against restrictions on young aristocratic Javanese women of her era by educating herself with books and communicating her ideas through letters to her Dutch friends.

Kartini's letters were later compiled into a book "Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang" ("Out of Dark Comes Light").

The book has since become a source of inspiration and prompted many improvements in the lives of Indonesian women.

"Until this day, Kartini remains an inspiration for us all," Taruna said. "We should be proud of her and also be proud to wear traditional costumes, not only on Kartini Day, but also in our daily lives."

However, wearing a tight-fitting kebaya and kain (pareo) may not be very practical for today's fast-paced lifestyle.

Therefore, IFC designers have developed a series of modern kebayas that would be suitable for modern women.

"The way to perpetuate traditional costumes is by adjusting them to today's women's needs," IFC national deputy chairman Wignyo Rahadi said. "The traditional costumes should maintain our cultural identity, without losing their modern functionality."

In a fashion show following Thursday's talk show, Wignyo showcased a series of simple kebayas, made from handwoven fabrics produced in his workshop in Sukabumi, West Java.

"These fabrics are made by women in my neighborhood that used to work in the backbreaking brick industry," Wignyo said. "I train them to weave so that they can make a better living for themselves and their families."

The simple silhouette and relaxed fit of Wignyo's kebayas allow wearers more room for movement. The soft pastel hues of his kebayas also complimented the models' fair complexions.

Inge Chu, fashion designer of the IFC's Semarang chapter, also showcased her mini-kebaya collection during the fashion show.

[caption id="attachment_655797" align="aligncenter" width="245"]Inge Chu's kebaya. (JG Photo/Sylviana Hamdani) Inge Chu's kebaya. (JG Photo/Sylviana Hamdani)[/caption]

Inge's kebayas, made of lace, tulle, duchess silk and organdy silk, also have a relaxed fit, as well as pretty bell sleeves. The bodice and hemlines are adorned with arabesque-pattern embroideries.

The kebayas were paired with pareos and long pants made of natural-dyed batiks from her hometown, Semarang, Central Java.

The exquisite colors of the natural-dyed batiks complimented Inge's semi-transparent kebayas.

Hannie Hananto chairwoman of the IFC's Jakarta chapter, also presented a series of kebaya-inspired Muslim clothing for women during the event.

"I truly appreciate today's event and fashion show," National Handicraft Council (Dekranas) chairwoman Erni Tjahjo Kumolo said after the show. "The kebayas are all very beautiful and elegant, as well as modern and wearable."

"I hope that this event would inspire today's Indonesian women to be proud of their cultural roots and wear kebaya much more often," Erni added.
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. In Indonesia, studying at a vocational high school, or SMK, is often considered an ideal way for children from underprivileged backgrounds to gain the necessary work skills and find employment as soon as possible. But it is also a fact that these children possess as much potential as their more fortunate counterparts. Given proper support and opportunities, they, too, can excel at what they do and become much more than what is expected of them.

The students of SMK NU Banat in Kudus, Central Java, are a fine example. On Sept. 7 to 10, four of their best students are going to present their debut collection at a prestigious international fashion event, CentreStage Hong Kong.

"Praise be to God," Nia Faradiska, one of the four students, said at Artotel in Jakarta on Thursday (01/09). "We really cannot articulate our happiness [for this event]. We're so very grateful for this wonderful opportunity."

SMK NU Banat has been under the patronage of Bakti Pendidikan Djarum Foundation since last year. In June this year, the nonprofit foundation collaborated with the Indonesia Fashion Chamber (IFC) to improve the vocational school's fashion design curriculum.

Four IFC designers, Ali Charisma, Dina Midiani, Lisa Fitria and Sofie, then started coaching the school's grade 11 and grade 12 students in fashion designing, branding, pricing and business planning.

"In the beginning of the program, each of us was asked to create three designs and present them to the class," Nia said.

The coaches then chose the best 10 and asked them to improve their sketches for the next presentation.

"[The second presentation] was very stressful," the 16-year-old said. "Each of us was 'grilled' by the coaches during the presentation. They asked really detailed questions about the concept, the cut, the fabrics and the pricing. [These] are the things that we'd never given much thought before."

But one of the coaches, Ali Charisma, who is also the national chairman of the IFC, applauded these young talents.

"These young students are very brilliant," he said. "They just lack confidence and experience."

The coaches chose the best four, Nia Faradiska, Navida Royyana, Risa Maharani and Rania, to represent their school at CentreStage Hong Kong. They were then assigned to create a modest wear collection, under the main theme "Revive," to be presented at the event.

"The collection should represent today's urban lifestyle and also highlight Kudus's traditional heritage," Ali said.

The collection, which was presented in the ballroom of Artotel on Thursday, is fresh, chic and modern. The dresses, tunics and pants are clean-cut and made of a combination of modern and traditional textiles. The clever color-blocking makes the items stand out and look very dynamic.

"These items can be worn by Muslim and non-Muslim women alike," Nia said.

Indeed, these chic items would not look out of place in the metropolitan setting of Hong Kong. Some of their thick coats and jackets, made with sassy, deconstructed designs, would fit the country's chilly autumn weather.

The collection will be offered under the label Zelmira, the ready-to-wear brand of the students and alumni of SMK NU Banat.
The four students, some of their teachers and IFC designers, will leave for Hong Kong on Monday.

During the event, they will present the collection in a fashion show at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, where they will also have a booth in which they will offer the collection to international buyers.

"I hope we'll find buyers for our collection at the event," said Nia, who is an 11th-grade student. "I really want to be like [fashion designer] Dian Pelangi. She also studied at an SMK and has now become a very successful fashion designer."
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. When cells divide, a living organism grows bigger and stronger. We believe this is what's currently happening in the country's fashion industry.

When the major fashion organization, the Indonesian Fashion Designers and Entrepreneurs Association (APPMI), fractured in late November last year, many were concerned with the growth of the country’s fashion industry. But the designers, who resigned from key positions in APPMI, subsequently established another fashion association, the Indonesian Fashion Chamber (IFC), in mid-December.

Since its inception, the new association has been conducting roadshows to introduce itself and recruit promising young talent in Indonesia's fashion industry. Today, the IFC has over 130 members in 11 chapters all over Indonesia.

The IFC national board announced its plans for the next year at the Artotel in Jakarta on Thursday (25/02).

"The IFC works not only for the benefit of its members, but also for the growth of the country's fashion industry," IFC national chairman Ali Charisma said.

For that purpose, the IFC will continue to offer workshops and training for its members to improve their production, branding, marketing and distribution skills.

"We will also partake in a number of trade shows and fashion weeks abroad," Ali said.

Among the international events that IFC will participate in this year, are the Modest Fashion Week in Istanbul in May, the Hong Kong Fashion Week in July and the Who's Next trade show in Paris in September.

The recently established fashion association has also revealed a detailed calendar of events it will hold in Indonesia throughout 2016 and 2017.
Coming up soon is the Muslim Fashion Festival at the Plaza Tenggara Senayan mall in South Jakarta. The event, which will take place from May 25-29, will consist of fashion shows, seminars, workshops and exhibitions featuring 400 local ready-to-wear brands.

"We'll present the 2017 [Muslim] fashion trends at the event," Ali said.

During the fasting month this year, from June 27 to July 17, the IFC will also present Ramadhan Fashion Week at the Gandaria City mall in South Jakarta.

In August, the new association plans to present fashion events in Bali and Yogyakarta.

"In Bali, we'll feature Indonesia's untapped fashion potential, which are swimwear and resort wear," Ali said. "While in Yogyakarta, we'll present batik as chic contemporary fashion items."

Their series of event will culminate in April next year with a new fashion week in the country, the IFC Fashion Week, which will be held at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC).

At present, there are already two other major fashion weeks in Indonesia – the Indonesia Fashion Week (IFW), which usually takes place around March, and the Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW), which is held around October or November each year.

The new IFC Fashion Week, planned for April, will surely be an exciting addition to the country's colorful fashion calendar.
It is hoped that with more showcases such as these, Indonesia's fashion industry will grow to be bigger and better in the near future.

"We aim to achieve the government's goal of establishing Indonesia as a center for Muslim fashion by 2020 and a center for global fashion by 2025," Ali said.
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