Published by Sugar & Cream, Wednesday 21 November 2018

Text by Lynda Ibrahim, Images courtesy of each respective brand

The Winners of Design Competitions from JFW 2019, Jakarta

One of the fixtures of Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW) during its course is design competitions; fashion design competition (LPM), accessory design competition (LPA). During its 11th run this year JFW featured LPA, LPM for menswear, and a fashion design competition ran by local cosmetic giant Wardah.

Started in 1979 and has produced many renowned designers, last year Lomba Perancang Mode (LPM) tapped into the promising dynamic of menswear with its first LPM Menswear. From creative standpoint this year’s finalists delivered more promising collections than last year.

The ancient-Bugis-maritime-inspired collection designed by Favorite Winner, 22-year-old Elsa, looked sharp, stylish and yet so easily-worn it could be sold right off the runway.

The deconstructed silhouettes in plaid by Verena Jeanne Indriani was also stylish without being too farfetched for most young men.

In general, all winners showed collections that arguably were more attuned to everyday men than the niche market of highly-stylized metrosexual men, which is to read as a promising sign for commercialization on retail level. JFW is correct to widen the path for aspiring menswear designers through LPM Menswear; it will be better if LPM Menswear can also open designers’ horizon to everyday men.

Younger than LPM, LPA has also started to churn out potential accessories designers, with possibly a steeper battle. All new designers must face the real challenge upon commercialization, where market will determine if the creativity has business value, yet as accessories aren’t generally prioritized as highly as clothes do, the battle is even greater. It was interesting that one of the frequent LPA judges quipped during press conference that winners should look at the award as the beginning of a fight instead of feeling complacent and switching afterwards to presumably easier business, like culinary.

On a more uplifting note, LPA 2018’s winners all looked like they were designing with a certain demographic in mind. Third place Windra Siregar’s lovely pieces could be worn for daytime business meetings.

Runner-up Hilma Sophia’s bronze accessories, inspired by Frida Kahlo no less, would be perfect for women with penchant for classic pieces including the traditional kebaya.

Winner Adhe Vita Phianti’s rather whimsical collection should be packed as essentials for summer sojourns in tropical resorts. At this rate, LPA would produce compatible and business-viable accessories designers quite soon.

Another design competition making a splash during the 11th JFW was Wardah Inspiring Young Designer Competition, with the objective of designing modern, yet modest ready-to-wear fashion. While it’s a bit too early to predict whether these young talents would become the next big thing, most of the 12 finalists of around 240 participants put forward collections that shielded modesty even if worn without headscarves– which means a bigger export market that includes Japan. A glimpse at designs by Astika Aquilla, Robby Rizky and Ghassani Sabrina would show this promise.

The current coterie of judges, modest fashion designers themselves– Norma Hauri, Hannie Hananto, Barli Asmara— have done a good job selecting this year’s finalists. It would be a good exercise for Wardah and the modest fashion category if next year’s judges would include modest fashion designers with completely different creative directions, like punk-inspired Jenahara Nasution or androgyny-favored Restu Anggraini. With such colors, who knows what sort creativity may transpire.

Retail fashion is a finicky beast– many come, many go. The more design competitions manage to balance out creative ideas and business considerations, the better crop of new talents the industry would enjoy every year. Kudos to LPM Menswear, LPA, and Wardah Inspiring Young Designer Competition for keep paving the long and challenging road.

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