Jakarta. Indonesian modest wear designer Vivi Zubedi is on a quest to introduce South Kalimantan's traditional textiles, sasirangan and pagatan, at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 11.
The theme "Urang Banua" ("Banua People") was chosen to represent the uniqueness, originality and the beauty of the traditional fabrics.
The collection also forces fashion lovers and designers to take an intimate look into the impoverished lives of the weavers in South Kalimantan.
Vivi said the collection was created to help and appreciate the weavers who dedicate their lives to preserving Indonesia's most precious intangible cultural heritage.
"I present this collection not only for NYFW, but also for the weavers in South Kalimantan. This collection is from women, by women, and for all women all over the world," Vivi said at a press conference in Central Jakarta on Wednesday (31/01).
She said it was time for other traditional fabrics besides batik, lurik and ikat to gain the spotlight at one of the world's most prestigious fashion events.
"At first, I wanted to explore only sasirangan fabrics but along the way, I found out about pagatan and felt responsible to introduce it to the world," she said.
"Pagatan has never been exposed by Indonesian designers because the place where it originates lacks access and it is far from major cities."
She will present 30 looks, all made from sasirangan and pagatan. Vivi transformed the traditional textiles into casual and wearable clothes, including tops, bottoms and outers that are suitable for both daily wear and special occasions.
Many Traditional Fabrics Are Unexposed
Across Indonesia, textiles are produced by women, especially in the poorest, most remote regions where there are few opportunities to earn an income. And yet, there is a huge lack of interest among the younger generation to pursue the art of weaving because it is not considered promising.
During her travel to Pagatan and Banjarmasin, Vivi noticed that almost all the artisans she met were older than 40 years.
"Many young people don't want to learn weaving techniques, because the profession is not considered very promising. The price of one sheet of fabric costs between Rp 500 and Rp 1,000. This is very alarming and the weaving tradition is in danger of extinction," she said.
Many traditional weavers also do not understand the demands of the fashion industry. Vivi said most refused to create new motifs.
"The lack of access to the outside world slows down the weavers' creativity in adjusting to the development of Indonesia's fashion industry," she said.
This prompted Vivi to work with local governments to host workshops and seminars to raise awareness in the fashion industry of weavers' welfare.
"I want to become a mediator between the local and international fashion industries and the textile weavers," she said.
Vivi is selling the items in her collection on Indonesian Muslim modest wear e-commerce site Hijup, and donating some of her profits to support individual manufacturers. She hopes the fashion show will add value to Indonesia's traditional textiles and increase demand.
All items in her collection will be available on Hijup's website on the same day as NYFW.
The items cost between Rp 300,000 and Rp 2 million ($22-$149).