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In Indonesia, local designers court a booming, stylish niche

  • Evi Mariani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, November 22, 2013 | 01:33 pm
In Indonesia, local designers court a booming, stylish niche Enterprising: Many local fashion brands, such as Ramune, whose pieces are seen here, are small enterprises that sell through online shops or in other, bigger stores because it is expensive to open their own. (JP/Evi Mariani)" border="0" height="374" width="498">Enterprising: Many local fashion brands, such as Ramune, whose pieces are seen here, are small enterprises that sell through online shops or in other, bigger stores because it is expensive to open their own. (JP/Evi Mariani)

The past few years in Indonesia have seen the rise of local fashion brands for women that sell affordable, fashionable, ready-to-wear pieces at pop-up markets throughout the city or on the Internet.

Small to medium in size, these enterprises are mostly run by women in their 20s who do it all by themselves, from providing capital to hunting for fabrics to design, to tending to their booths.

The labels typically sell women’s clothing at affordable prices, usually from Rp 50,000 (US$4.50) to Rp 200,000 for tops or bottoms and up to Rp 300,000 for dresses.

With prices lower than those of local brands at Goods Dept. and pop-up market Brightspot Market, the pieces are typically sold offline at fashion bazaars at convention centers or shopping malls or online, through retailers such as berrybenka.com, pinkemma.com and scallope.com.

Most also have online shops on social media such as Facebook or Blogspot or dedicated websites.

The target market is women aged from 16 to their early 30s, ranging from schoolgirls to office workers.

However, some people behind the local labels have been worried after H&M, the international major fashion retailer from Sweden, recently opened a store in Jakarta.

Tiara Yunas, designer and co-owner of Binca, said that she felt the heat after seeing H&M’s massive campaigns featuring prices not to different from hers.

Five 13: Labels such as Five 13 typically sell fashionable and hip women’s clothing at affordable prices. (Five 13)Five 13: Labels such as Five 13 typically sell fashionable and hip women’s clothing at affordable prices. (Five 13)
Things grew warmer still when Binca booked unusually low sales at a bazaar organized by Go Girl magazine at a Gandaria City on the same day that H&M opened its branch at the mall last month.

“Later, it turned out that my overall sales outside at that particular bazaar were steady,” Tiara said.

Binca, established in 2011 by Tiara and four friends, sells their line on berrybenka.com, pinkemma.com or at pop-up markets, local retailer Goods Dept. and some concept stores in Jakarta and Bandung.

Separately, Eva Buntara and Vivi Sulaiman of Ramune (ramuneshop.com) and Gladys Sastra of Five Thirteen agreed that H&M was a company that might shrink their sales, although so far those fears had yet to materialize.

“We are confident that we are unique and not so commonplace as H&M,” Vivi said.

The entrepreneurs said that Japan’s Uniqlo and Forever 21 from the US, both of which have been in Jakarta longer than H&M, have also not affected their sales, despite competitive prices.

Another entrepreneur, Helen Bellina of kiveeshop.com, said that she welcomed H&M as a new benchmark that would prepare the market for new styles.

Helen said that she would be more daring in releasing pieces that followed the latest trends if H&M had done so first.

For these entrepreneurs, inspiration can come the fashion weeks in New York, London and Milan, from fashion icons on Instagram — and also from their direct competitors: international fashion retailers.

“The existence of those stores makes us more creative,” Eva said.

Gladys and Tiara agreed their optimism also came from a calculation that the local market would be getting larger. Not only were more people shopping in Indonesia, their purchasing power was also greater.

Kivee: A model poses in Kivee designs. The label’s Helen Bellina said she would be more daring in releasing pieces that followed the latest trends if H&M did so first. (Kivee)

Enterprising: Many local fashion brands, such as Ramune, whose pieces are seen here, are small enterprises that sell through online shops or in other, bigger stores because it is expensive to open their own. (JP/Evi Mariani)

The past few years in Indonesia have seen the rise of local fashion brands for women that sell affordable, fashionable, ready-to-wear pieces at pop-up markets throughout the city or on the Internet.

Small to medium in size, these enterprises are mostly run by women in their 20s who do it all by themselves, from providing capital to hunting for fabrics to design, to tending to their booths.

The labels typically sell women'€™s clothing at affordable prices, usually from Rp 50,000 (US$4.50) to Rp 200,000 for tops or bottoms and up to Rp 300,000 for dresses.

With prices lower than those of local brands at Goods Dept. and pop-up market Brightspot Market, the pieces are typically sold offline at fashion bazaars at convention centers or shopping malls or online, through retailers such as berrybenka.com, pinkemma.com and scallope.com.

Most also have online shops on social media such as Facebook or Blogspot or dedicated websites.

The target market is women aged from 16 to their early 30s, ranging from schoolgirls to office workers.

However, some people behind the local labels have been worried after H&M, the international major fashion retailer from Sweden, recently opened a store in Jakarta.

Tiara Yunas, designer and co-owner of Binca, said that she felt the heat after seeing H&M'€™s massive campaigns featuring prices not to different from hers.

Five 13: Labels such as Five 13 typically sell fashionable and hip women'€™s clothing at affordable prices. (Five 13)Five 13: Labels such as Five 13 typically sell fashionable and hip women'€™s clothing at affordable prices. (Five 13)
Things grew warmer still when Binca booked unusually low sales at a bazaar organized by Go Girl magazine at a Gandaria City on the same day that H&M opened its branch at the mall last month.

'€œLater, it turned out that my overall sales outside at that particular bazaar were steady,'€ Tiara said.

Binca, established in 2011 by Tiara and four friends, sells their line on berrybenka.com, pinkemma.com or at pop-up markets, local retailer Goods Dept. and some concept stores in Jakarta and Bandung.

Separately, Eva Buntara and Vivi Sulaiman of Ramune (ramuneshop.com) and Gladys Sastra of Five Thirteen agreed that H&M was a company that might shrink their sales, although so far those fears had yet to materialize.

'€œWe are confident that we are unique and not so commonplace as H&M,'€ Vivi said.

The entrepreneurs said that Japan'€™s Uniqlo and Forever 21 from the US, both of which have been in Jakarta longer than H&M, have also not affected their sales, despite competitive prices.

Another entrepreneur, Helen Bellina of kiveeshop.com, said that she welcomed H&M as a new benchmark that would prepare the market for new styles.

Helen said that she would be more daring in releasing pieces that followed the latest trends if H&M had done so first.

For these entrepreneurs, inspiration can come the fashion weeks in New York, London and Milan, from fashion icons on Instagram '€” and also from their direct competitors: international fashion retailers.

'€œThe existence of those stores makes us more creative,'€ Eva said.

Gladys and Tiara agreed their optimism also came from a calculation that the local market would be getting larger. Not only were more people shopping in Indonesia, their purchasing power was also greater.

Kivee: A model poses in Kivee designs. The label'€™s Helen Bellina said she would be more daring in releasing pieces that followed the latest trends if H&M did so first. (Kivee)Kivee: A model poses in Kivee designs. The label'€™s Helen Bellina said she would be more daring in releasing pieces that followed the latest trends if H&M did so first. (Kivee)

The upshot: More women are shopping for more clothes. '€œI have two or three loyal customers who buy up to 10 pieces every month,'€ Gladys said.

Ramune, which sells its wares outside Java '€” as far away as Papua '€” also has its eye on the overseas market. Eva and Vivi have cooperated with an Malaysian fashion online shop and are looking to enter Singapore.

However, the women also have high hopes for increased purchasing power in Indonesia, targeting to increase production from 500 to 3,000 pieces per month.

The other labels also are also upbeat, considering the increasing numbers of online fashion retailers and fashion bazaars, a trend that began after the turn of the last decade but only began to take off about two years ago.

Eva said that the increasing number of local brands was good and that local designers were in healthy competition against each other. None predicted that the market would be saturated any time soon.

'€œThe increasing use of social media helps us a lot. Nowadays, we can post own pictures wearing fashionable items on Instagram and expect to get a lot of likes,'€ Gladys said.

The trend led to more young women buying clothes more often, she added. Even mainstream print media has embraced the trend, providing space for readers to post pictures of themselves wearing their most fashionable outfits.

'€˜We'€™re counting on the Indonesian market to become really big,'€ Vivi said.

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