Islamic Lifestyle 

Are runway shows at fashion weeks helping Indonesia’s modest wear SMEs?

| 21 September, 2018 | General
 Yosi Winosa
Are runway shows at fashion weeks helping Indonesia’s modest wear SMEs?
Photo: Indonesian label Uma Privee runway show at Jakarta Modest Fashion Week on Jul 29, 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo supplied by Jakarta Modest Fashion Week

JAKARTA - Indonesia’s modest fashionistas have walked many runways in the last couple of years, at the Indonesia Fashion Week, Muslim Fashion Festival, Jakarta Modest Fashion Week, and they will meet again at October’s Indonesia Modest Fashion Week 2018.

Companies paid anything from 40 million Indonesian rupiah ($2,695) to 200 million rupiah ($13,476) to be part of the Jakarta Modest Fashion Week at the end of July, according to main organiser Franka Soeria of Think Fashion. The numbers are roughly consistent with those from 2016 when companies paid 75 million to 150 million rupiah for runway shows at the Muslim Fashion Festival.

Are runway shows at fashion weeks helping Indonesia’s modest wear small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?




Anggia, of Anggia Handmade, is a veteran of runway shows. Outside of Indonesia, she has taken her designs to catwalks in Paris, Dubai and Istanbul. The shows, she told Salaam Gateway, are a chance to find new customers and buyers.

“I think it’s worth the price. After the Jakarta Modest Fashion Week in July, there was an increase of orders from new customers outside our city base stores in Bandung, Makassar and Lampung. Orders increased by 30 percent to 500 pieces per month, from 350 pieces per month,” Anggia told Salaam Gateway.

Her business has been growing steadily since it started in 2011 and Anggia Handmade now has six stores in Aceh, Bandung, Jakarta, Lampung, Makassar and Surabaya. Anggia Handmade designs are priced from 250,000 rupiah ($17) to 3.5 million rupiah ($235), and the company sells up to 5,000 pieces a year.

Designer Restu Anggraini agrees with Anggia. Fashion weeks, she said, are trade shows and not for brands to “show off”. When the euphoria subsides, it’s up to the business to produce for the market, said Anggraini. She is behind the ETU label, which like Anggia Handmade has also been in business since 2011.

Anggraini credits Jakarta Modest Fashion Week for giving her the opportunity to network and promote her work to industry players from different countries. “The event was the right tool for branding and promotional activity, people could better recognise our product,” she said.

“We met new people and we should be able to seize new business opportunities,” she added.

Anggraini said that after the July fashion week, she was contacted by Australian and Mexican officials who asked if she would display her work at events happening at their embassies in Indonesia.

Anggraini’s ETU label sells out of five stores primarily across the capital Jakarta but also in Jogjakarta and Palembang.


Beyond generating overseas sales leads for Indonesian companies, modest fashion shows have also opened up opportunities for foreign companies to do business in the country, said Think Fashion’s Soeria, who has taken her Modest Fashion Week event to London, Istanbul and Dubai.

Indonesia’s big Muslim market and lower production costs are key pull factors, she said.

Several designers already working with Think Fashion to produce modest fashion in Indonesia include Japan’s Hiroko Maeomasu, Canada’s Hiba Moumne and Fahima from the United States.

“There are also several designers from the U.S., Australia and Germany that are interested to produce locally in Indonesia but they are also considering China or Turkey as production bases,” said Soeria.

“If Indonesia is able to become the production base for the Southeast Asian or Oceania markets, I think we could still attract more designers from Europe, for example those that previously have produced their products in Turkey or China,” she added. 

At the same time, Indonesian companies looking to expand abroad are assessing their own options. After her modest fashion week experience in Istanbul in 2016 Anggia weighed the pros and cons of opening a factory in Turkey. With an eye on the Middle East markets, Anggia said she is still considering the costs, especially of raw materials.


New business opportunities also extend beyond sales leads and manufacturing options.

For Istafiana Candarini, founder of the brand Kami Idea, being at modest fashion weeks is also a chance to meet investors who could give SMEs like hers a boost.

“The issue of capital is still hard for us. We need cash to buy material stock, establish offline stores or attend fashion shows but unfortunately formal financial institutions like banks don’t recognise us,” said Candarini, who set up Kami Idea in 2009.

She did not find an investor at July’s Jakarta Modest Fashion Week but said that other designers have shared referrals that could potentially help her business expand beyond its seven stores.  

“It’s getting hard, especially ahead of Eid al Fitr season when demand increases three to five times, and we have to compete with other well-backed funded designers,” she said.

These “well-backed funded designers” would include big names such as Jenahara, Miranda and Dian Pelangi.


One fashion-related company that lends its support to the local industry is halal cosmetics brand Wardah, which is often the official beauty partner for modest wear events in Indonesia.

The events are a chance for the company to boost business matching and build its network, Elsa Maharani, its public relations manager told Salaam Gateway.

“We established Wardah Fashion Journey in 2017. It’s basically a programme to back up Indonesia’s modest fashion industry,” said Maharani.

“From the company perspective, we want to leverage our brand position as a halal cosmetic business. Basically we will support anything related to the modest fashion industry; fashion shows are just one part,” she said.

(Reporting by Yosi Winosa; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim

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