The Global Exchange – Fashions of Indonesia
Some of Indonesia’s best and brightest fashion designers traveled to QUT as part of the #fashiondiplomacy program. Split over two weeks between Brisbane and Sydney, the program is the first fashion and textiles short course in the Australia Awards, a collection of fellowships and scholarships by the Australian Government designed to give future leaders from across the globe personal development, study and research opportunities.
The No Walls team spent time with the designers at QUT, speaking with Gloria Agatha of Jii, Lenny Augustin and Novita Yunus of Batik Chic.
Agatha spoke with the No Walls team about some of the key characteristics of her label, Jii.
“[Jii is] chic, sophisticated and quirky. Australians are more laid back with plain prints whereas Indonesians dress up a lot more.”
– Gloria Agatha.
Another designer, Lenny Augustin, spoke of the ten months she spent with women in Indonesia, passing on the embroidery skills she’s developed.
“My personal style always brings up my Indonesian tradition in a new and modern style, and new colours for women that are always changing.”
– Lenny Augustin
We asked her about the differences between Indonesian and Australian fashion. “Australia is more clean [and] simple,” Augustin says. “We have a lot of traditional things, so we can bring the traditional things to be our differences.”
For Novita Yunus – the designer behind Batik Chic, a brand with a focus on handbags and other accessories – tradition remains a big part of the work she does, right down to the material she uses.
“Batik Chic only use Indonesian material,” she says. “Indonesia is very rich in material. Batik is our heritage and I love it.”
“Everyone has to go back to [their] roots. Australia has a lot of nature, and your designs relate to that. Indonesians: we go back to our culture and our traditional outfits.”
– Novita Yunus
We asked Yunus about the major similarities or differences between Indonesian and Australian designs.
“It depends on the market here. Australia is very casual, but we have a very similar climate. But Indonesian apparel stays close to the traditional, such as wearing Sarongs and Kebayas, making [them] in a more modern way.”
When asked to describe Batik Chic in three words, Yunus says, “heritage, chic and stylish”.
A video collage of the workshop activity:
For the Indonesian designers – who have since travelled to Sydney and returned home – it was an opportunity to experience Australian fashion and culture, with an overall aim of fostering a “Bondi-Bali” link between designers from the two countries.
Queensland University of Technology design lecturer Carla van Lunn spoke glowingly of Indonesian fashion, and of how she fell in love with the country on her first ever visit there. This love of Indonesia’s culture and fashion ignited a desire in her to work hard to bring this fashion exchange to QUT.
“Design is a universal language,” says van Lunn. “It needs no translation. It’s something everyone can connect to and it’s very tactile, so that’s why it’s important to have real-life exchanges.”Van Lunn also provides insight into the traditional Batik designs of Indonesia that Novita Yunus uses in her work. She says the process is complex and time-consuming, where skilled craftspeople paint or stamp wax onto fabric before dying it. The dye cannot penetrate the wax, so after multiple repetitions of the same process, the finished product is an elaborately patterned design.
“There’s some sort of saying in Indonesia, I think, that a baby’s first footsteps should be on a piece of Batik fabric, and when you die, you are wrapped in a shroud of Batik. It’s kind of this fabric that runs through the whole life. It’s a really beautiful symbol,” van Lunn says.
“We’ve seen a real renaissance locally and globally in fashion and society for things that are artisanal [and] hand-made. There’s a real interest in the storytelling of the craft.”
– Carla van Lunn
The course led by van Lunn aimed to provide the Indonesian designers with an opportunity to learn more about the needs of the international market, as well as explore ways to adapt their designs for it.
“It was something I saw a lot of value in and it was an awesome experience,” says van Lunn.
The Indonesian fashion designer’s time spent with QUT fashion students, sharing ideas and experiences was the crux of creativity – collaboration, networking and learning through doing.