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Local fashion brand strives to redefine Indonesian style

Tunggul Wirajuda
Tunggul Wirajuda

A media practitioner for over 10 years in both TV and print.

Jakarta | Tue, May 16, 2017 | 01:14 pm
Local fashion brand strives to redefine Indonesian style

Olive military jackets by Indonesian fashion startup Soze. (Soze/File)

An olive military jacket has turned heads because of its clean lines and bold, contrasting shades.

Designed by Indonesian fashion startup Soze as part of Blossom of Consciousness (BOC), its latest fashion line, the BOC Improvised Jacket’s clean lines and contrasting shades are as much about contrast as form and function.

“This olive long-sleeve lightweight and relaxed jacket is constructed to give a new form to the modern jacket,” said Soze of the outfit.

“Extra detailing of the zip closure at the cuffs, dual hidden pockets at the front exterior” and other features hint at how the jacket’s out-of-the-box design has turned fashion on its head.

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Creating a look

The BOC Improvised Jacket is one of the highlights of the collection by Soze, which was founded by three students—Alvitto "Vitto" Dwisaputro, Faris Muhammad Noorsanto and Rizky Juniartha “Artha” Suprayogi—at the Prasetya Mulya business school in 2015.

“Soze was named after Kayser Soze, the main character and antagonist in [the Bryan Singer] film, The Usual Suspects,” said Artha. “Soze also means ‘promise’ in Turkish, making the name resonate further.”

“Soze highlights minimalist designs with multiple combinations of layers and colors combined with iconic lines,” said Artha. “The textiles are geared for people to dress well with inexpensive yet comfortable material, such as canvas on our jackets instead of twill or cotton. As a result, the outfits have a naturally comfortable fit for men and women.”

Blossom of Consciousness black jackets.(Soze/File)

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First steps and making first impressions

Soze faced challenges in their formative steps, prompting them to go on the road less taken. “We started to make a name for ourselves through word of mouth when we started out and throughout 2016, so we tried out for the 2016 Pop Up Market in Jakarta, only to get rejected," Vitto said.

Faris echoed his account. “We refused to be brought down by the setback, though Indonesia remains a tough place to make a headway. Most fashion shows here are small scale aside from the Pop Up Market and Brightspot,” he said. “Finding a niche or segment for Indonesian retailers is also difficult, as the market has yet to be found. But we still used our time here constructively, as we participated in workshops from the Jakarta provincial administration on auto production of clothes, manufacturing of pants, and dyeing of cloth.”

The lack of success at home did not discourage Soze. “We got more critical acclaim when we participated in Singapore Fashion Week the same year, as both organizers and customers found our collection more appealing,” Vitto said. “[Singapore Fashion Week] was a good learning ground, as it paved the way to our participation in the Tokyo Jumble last March.”

“We also released our latest line at the Tokyo Jumble,” Vitto added. The line continues an avant garde approach with a distinctive tack.

“The latest line highlights the design process, an element highly esteemed in Japan,” said Faris. “These include a jacket dyed with merbau wood, a well-known dye along with indigo, cinnamon and other substances. The use of all natural ingredients leads to a look that is as organic as it is natural."

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“The line was also inspired by daily life, architecture, fine arts and music. Other influences include the Baudelaire poem Les Fleurs Du Mal and its theme of world weariness,” said Artha. “The verse also serves as a critique of the Indonesian market for its conformity and a motivation to make our own style, just like what we saw in Japan.”

“I guess Soze made more strides overseas because customers there are more receptive to innovation and experimentation,” he added. “This contrasts with Indonesian buyers, who are more fixated on brand names. Demand for imported wear also hamper development of Indonesian fashion, as many Indonesian designers depend on overseas trends, even if those clothes aren’t suited to Indonesia’s climate.”

Faris agreed. “We wish to change the Indonesian public’s mindset that Indonesian apparel is inferior to their foreign counterparts. I guess its from the lack of a strong personality that can persuade others to buy Indonesian,” he laments.

The favorable reception overseas is equally palpable in the creative sphere. “Many of the seasoned brands in the Tokyo Jumble, particularly those from Japan and Canada, were willing to give advice to startups like us, even though they have been around for the past 20 to 30 years,” Vitto said. “They include Nerdist founder Akutsu Zan, a doyen of contemporary fashion whose work was unveiled at New York Fashion Week. As rookies in fashion, we were encouraged to introduce ourselves and vice versa, which is a far cry from the standoffish nature of Indonesian brands at the Pop Up Market and other exhibitions."

Read also: World Fashion Connect preps local designers to enter global scene

Looking ahead

Soze’s impressive debuts in Singapore and Tokyo enabled them to make inroads in Indonesia. “The Indonesian market started to take notice following our success overseas. It validated our thinking that if we were successful overseas, the domestic market will follow suit,” Vitto said. “We also want to reach this aim through our sound, our design and philosophy. But most of all, we want to prove that Indonesia can make hip clothes as good as the rest of the world.”

“After all, going global is one of our long-term goals. We will explore this in Korea, as we recently got invited to participate at the Korean Jumble later this year,” he added.

Artha agreed. “We were already contacted by a Korean web store to sell our items through their outlet. Nonetheless, our priority remains on consolidating the Indonesian market and spreading awareness of our brand here,” he said. “We are currently drawing up plans for our fourth fashion line. It will include out-of-the-box touches like out-sized cargo pants pockets, and encouraging our customers to pursue their long repressed passions.”

But wherever Soze’s whims will take them, it will surely be worth watching in the near future. (kes)

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A media practitioner for over 10 years in both TV and print. Tunggul Wirajuda found a niche in the latter, particularly as a features writer. He often writes about visual or performing arts, but just is at home in writing about automotive, culinary and film, among other things. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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