The Jakarta Post
An Indonesian fashion blogger, author and entrepreneur who was named a Top Fashion Influencer by Influence Asia 2015, Diana is currently spearheading two fashion lines. (Courtesy of Diana Rikasari/File)
Look at the kaleidoscopic style of Diana Rikasari on Instagram, where she’s amassed over 223,000 followers, and you can see why the 33 year old catches every eye when walking down the street. As much as the fashion designer’s look intrigues people, Diana says “Cliched as it is, it’s better to be different.”
“Hi! Are you going to a party?” someone once asked Diana as she walked the streets of the picturesque town Lausanne where she makes her home. The head-turning look of the Jakarta-born woman might be refreshing for Switzerland, although Diana says it took some time before she made peace with life in a quiet place. “I realized that living in Switzerland triggered me to value what I have been doing over the last seven years.”
An Indonesian fashion blogger, author and entrepreneur who was named a Top Fashion Influencer by Influence Asia 2015, Diana is currently spearheading two fashion lines: a lifestyle brand, UP, and fashion brand Schmiley Mo, which was heavily hyped in Malaysia in 2017.
As a fashion enthusiast, Diana has a wardrobe that’s filled with things she finds quirky. “I also love to collect sunglasses, scarves, leather jackets, anything with pom-poms and rainbow colors. I am a person who loves to decorate things, myself and my home.”
“Fashion is my superhero costume,” Diana said in a Skype interview. “When you wear it you should feel strong in it.”
Although she graduated with a master’s in international business management from Nottingham University in the UK, Diana said she had no background in fashion.
It wasn’t until 2010, when working as a market researcher for a creative agency, that something triggered her passion to pursue the shoe business. “My first sketch was terrible, but I was lucky to have a shoemaker who interpreted my doodles well.” Diana said that she had to journey through West Java–from Bogor to Bekasi to Bandung to Tasikmalaya–before she found a shoemaker with who, shall we say, she had a good fit.
Having a unique design sense has been a challenge, according to Diana. “People who enjoy my work are those who are young at heart,” she says. “I have great sense of humor and I express it through my style, but I am aware that my brands need to be toned down. Although someone still needs to have that youthful spirit to pull it out.”
When Diana visited a Prada store, she was complimented for her UP shoes she was wearing. “It was a memorable experience and achievement for me.” This year, Diana plans to expand her market to the US and UK.
Diana takes inspiration from diverse sources, such as kids, street style and other fashion bloggers. One example is reflected in UP’s brand identity, which features vibrant, summer-like colors for footwear and accessories that have been emblazoned with millennial staples such as emoji stickers.
While living in regulated Switzerland used to be an obstacle, Diana says that she adapted after six months. “I used to feel suffocated because I breathe creative air.” She pauses. “But Swiss products value craftsmanship and quality. In the end, it taught me the difference between focusing on high turnover versus designing high quality products.”
Commuting alone around Lausanne inspired Diana to focus on business. “I felt that I made a great decision for my brands here because the environment allows me to think clearly, with a clear head.”
One memorable moment was when she visited a knit shop. “I was surprised to find an entrepreneur who produced knit baby sweaters that were sold for 200 francs [Rp 2.8 million]. Not to belittle Swiss design, but their designs are very simple....The take- home lesson was about the Swiss ethos of long-lasting durability.”
Managing her business from abroad, Diana says that her trick is to allow her business partners to contact her 24/7. After running UP for almost seven years, Diana saw the opportunity to start Schmiley Mo in Malaysia. “The brand’s DNA is fun, modest clothing, which allows hijabbers to wear them.” Planning to expand to Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar this year, Diana envisions Schmiley Mo as a high-speed alternative to brands like H&M and Zara. She keeps UP to channel wild ideas.
Expressing a sense of humor and happiness through colors might be her passion, but Diana’s fashion outlook is beyond shades and hues. “It should be an honest expression of one’s identity. So when you feel down, you will feel much better and you should feel that you can conquer the world.”
Diana went bold after realizing that she needed a strong brand DNA, since young people are spending less on fashion and more on travel. Schmiley Mo caters to a broader market, while UP is a niche brand.
This article was originally published in the April 2018 edition of J+ by The Jakarta Post with the headline “Viva La Vivid”