10 Outstanding Indonesian Fashion Designers

11/17/2020

There are reasons why New York, London, Milan, and Paris are called the Big Four when it comes to the bi-annual fashion week; some of the biggest high-fashion brands have set up roots and their bases there.

While the Big Four has their big names like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen and Burberry to name a few, Indonesia is home to many world renowned fashion designers, all unique in their design characteristics and aesthetics. These prolific designers' creations have been worn by many international celebrities and public figures and it's a faux pas not to know these names.

ITANG YUNASZ

Itang Yunasz

Itang Yunasz is a pioneer in hijab and modest fashion in Indonesia with over 40 years of experience in the industry. Fashion enthusiasts, celebrities and socialites dubbed Itang as a trendsetter in modest wear and his latest collections are often anticipated by many.

He has a number of brands under his belt including Itang Yunasz, Itang Yunasz Ready to Wear, Preview by Itang Yunasz, Tatum, Kamilaa by Itang Yunasz, SZ, and Allea Itang Yunasz.

His success in building multiple lines for various demographic has made other modest wear fashion designers dubbed Itang the most productive and effective designer who promotes modest fashion in an elegant way.

Poppy Dharsono

A top fashion designer, actress, model, businesswoman and politician, the great Poppy Dharsono is truly something else. Born in Garut in 1951, she’s no stranger to the public eye. Shortly after she graduated from Lembaga Pendidikan Kesenian Jakarta (now Institut Kesenian Jakarta), she attended the prestigious ESMOD in Paris from 1974 to 1977. While attending ESMOD, she also learned modelling at the Mag Institute for a year before taking photography courses at Arles and even participated in their festival. She finished her intellectual pursuits by studying management and accounting courses at Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, three years after she graduated from ESMOD.

Poppy Dharsono

In the early stages of her fashion designing career, she mostly favoured traditional, ethnic fabrics—not as mere ornaments but as the primary focus. Any other fashion elements were put into use for adornments. With her eponymous label, she explored and popularised both Indonesian culture and textile.

Sleeveless Coat made from Kain Tenun Sumba | Source: @poppydharsonofashionstudio

A true advocate for national legacy, Poppy has been continuously redefining the essence of Indonesia’s cultural heritage through fashion. She modified, and added elements of ethnic garments with touches of contemporary details. She remained true to her principles, using Indonesian heritage as a theme for her creations and fashion shows - especially when she held fashion shows abroad like Germany, Canada, Paris and the USA.

Paula Verhoeven in Kain Sutra Garut | Source: @poppydharsonofashionstudio

Biyan

Biyan Wanaatmadja was born in 1954 and spent his childhood in Surabaya. He chose to study interior design earlier on but later switched his study to fashion and boy, aren't we thankful for that. He attended Muller & Sohn Private Mode Schule in Dusseldorf, Germany and later continued his studies at London College of Fashion.

Biyan | Soure: asiaone.com

After graduating in 1982, the fashion designer moved to Florence to work under Enrico Coveri for a year. After living in Europe for over 15 years, Biyan decided to return to Indonesia in 1983, where he started his first private label, BIYAN. He produced his amazing creations in a small atelier in Surabaya and premiered in 1984. One year later, Biyan introduced his second label, Studio 133 by Biyan. In 2005, the maverick launched a third label, Biyan Bride - a luxury bridal collection.

BIYAN Fallwinter 20 | Source: @biyanofficial

Biyan is no stranger to the international fashion industry with his collections made available at prestigious retailers such as Club 21, Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue just to name a few.

BIYAN Fallwinter 20 | Source: @biyanofficial

Biyan takes pride in his embellishments. His collections are often described as a medley of classic look, hyper-romanticism and sophistication. Every piece comes out of a creative play of fabric, colour, texture, and form. Dresses by Biyan are known to feature lace, organza, chiffon, and tulle, carefully tailored like a regal dress.

SAMUEL WATTIMENA

Samuel Wattimena

Samuel is known as a fashion designer who consistently incorporates traditional fabric in his designs. Born in 1960, Samuel’s breakthrough in the Indonesian fashion scene when he joined the Perancang Mode contest organised by Majalah Femina in 1979.

Realising that Indonesia has a wealth of traditional fabric, Samuel’s mission was to highlight Indonesia as the centre of ethnic and traditional fashion in the international stage.

In 2013, Samuel became the winner at the Fiji Fashion Week themed Echoes of the Pacific.

CHOSSY LATU

Chossy Latu

Chossy has always been consistent in highlighting and incorporating Indonesia’s culture and design in his creations. In 2013, Chossy featured batik in his ready-to-wear and haute couture collections at a fashion show in New York that received rave reviews.

Recently Chossy was chosen as one of the fashion designers to feature their collections at IPMI (Ikatan Perancang Mode Indonesia or Indonesian Fashion Designers Association) Trend Show 2021.

Chossy was once a designer under the Iwan Tirta brand after he won the Perancang Mode competition in 1979.

GHEA SUKASAH PANGGABEAN

Ghea spent her formative years in Europe and went to Lucie Clayton College of Dress Making and Chelsea Academy of Fashion in London where she studied fashion design.

Ghea

In her years in London, the flower generation and psychedelic movement in the 70s inspired her creations and that still remains one of her biggest design influence for her creations until today.

BCL in a dress by Ghea Fashion Studio

Ghea gained her distinction as a result of her talent in adopting the traditional Palembang jumputan and Balinese grinsing fabric into her modern bohemian outfits. Ghea’s design is often described as timeless.

Adrian Gan

It all started with three essentials: essences of Asian culture, splendid craftsmanship and exceptional embroidery work - combine these three principles, you'll get an elegant and luxurious attire fit for royalty. That is the Adrian Gan's method when creating oriental dresses and he is the best in the game.

Adrian Gan

Adrian has always had an eye for fashion ever since his formative years. He moved from his birthplace of Sukabumi, West Java to Jakarta to attend the Susan Budiharjo School of Fashion to pursue his passion. He started his career as a dressmaker and took 15 years to perfect his skills before he finally staged his highly successful inaugural fashion show. He has since made a name as one of the most prominent fashion designers in the country with his exotic signature Orient style.

Hanfu inspired Adrian Gan's bespoke outer and dress | Source: IG @adrianganworld 

Taking Eastern culture as his eponymous brand’s muse, Adrian took Cheongsam to another level with his meticulous design and craftsmanship. In 2019, he started combining vintage fabrics with modern ones to create exclusive couture dresses for his new couture label, ConQuerence. In the same year, he introduced ConQuerence to the public at the Adrian Gan Couture Show, presenting ‘East meets West’ principles in his collections.

A couture piece of Adrian Gan's ConQuerence collection | Source: IG @adrianganworld 

DIDI BUDIARJO

Born in Malang in 1970, Didi went to Atelier Fleuri Delaporte, Paris in 1991. Through his eponymous label, he also embodies his love for Indonesian arts and culture by presenting a collection specifically for kebaya. Didi’s identity when designing evening dresses and wedding dress is an elegant design that shapes the curves of a woman beautifully.

Didi Budiarjo

Didi has received plenty of awards in his time including New Fashion Designer of the Year 1991 from Piala Redaktur Mode 1993 (Fashion Designers Cup) and Fashion Designer Awards 2000 from Fashion Café Jakarta.

Source: @didibudiarjo

Didi also often displays his creations by participating in international events such as the Hong Kong World Boutique and 2006Asian Games in Doha.

Source: @didibudiarjo

Sebastian Gunawan

Being one of the most prominent figures in Indonesia fashion community, Sebastian Gunawan is a living legend. He has been hailed as one of Indonesia’s leading couturiers, bringing in numerous Indonesian and Hollywood celebrities, elites and alike as clients throughout his career.

Sebastian Gunawan | Source: couturissimo.com

Sebastian’s interest in fashion designing emerged around age 17. Since then, he secretly saved his pocket money to study at Susan Budiharjo School of Fashion—a dream that later came true. Soon after he went to Los Angeles to attend Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising before continuing his studies at Instituto Artistico Abbigliamento Marangoni in Milan, where he took courses in fashion design and illustration.

The fashion capital meant a lot to him. He met his partner in life (later also in business), Cristina Panarese and fell in love with Italy. He was and always influenced by Italian fashion and design.

Sebastian Gunawan's Midsumer Night's Dream collection | Source: sebastiangunawan.com

Sebastian's mission is to bring out the best features of every woman who wears his creation. Perhaps this is why he launched multiple fashion lines. The first is his couture line, Sebastian Gunawan, which he launched back in 1993 after he returned to Indonesia. Two years later, he collaborated with his wife to create VOTUM, his ready-to-wear line that caters to the urban market and younger generation looking for affordable yet luxurious cocktail attires.

In 2000, he expanded his fashion brand with the launch of SEBASTIANred by Sebastian Gunawan and Cristina Panarese. This prêt-a-porter collection is his premium fashion line that is available at four privately operated boutiques for his loyal customers. Last but not least is SEBASTIANsposa, also a collaboration of him and his wife. Launched in 2006, SEBASTIANsposa is a ready-to-wear bridal line that is only available to view by appoinment at his Sunter showroom in Jakarta.

SEBASTIANsposa collection by Sebastian Gunawan and Cristina Panarese | Source: sebastiangunawan.com

EDWARD HUTABARAT

Edward Hutabarat

Commonly known as Bang Edo, Edward is known for always incorporating Indonesian culture in his designs. He is a self-taught fashion designer out of his sheer passion for it.

Source: @edo_thejourney

He is a finalist in the Fashion Designer Competition (LPM) and started his career as a designer in 1981. In 1985, Edward studied tenun ulos, songket and batik which led him to showcase his creations at international exhibitions.

Source: @edo_thejourney

He has also released two books and won the Fashion Icon Award 2008.

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