The Jakarta Post
The official portrait of vice president-elect Ma'ruf Amin. (Courtesy of/State Secretariat)
With the presidential inauguration just around the corner, slated to run on Oct. 20, all eyes are currently on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and vice president-elect Ma’ruf Amin.
The latter’s fashion choice is a highly discussed topic as Ma’ruf is known for wearing sarong on many occasions, including for the presidential debates early this year.
In September last year, the non-active chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) told hundreds of santri (Islamic boarding school students) in Kediri, East Java, that should he be elected, he would maintain his penchant for santri style by regularly wearing a sarong.
However, the official presidential portraits released by the State Secretariat on Thursday show Ma’ruf wearing dress pants.
Photographer Darwis Triadi, who took the portraits, also shared his side of the photo shoot on Instagram.
It was no surprise though, as tribunnews.com reported that Ma’ruf had said he’s ready to wear pants and was seen wearing them during Independence Day celebrations.
Vice Presidential Secretariat Protocol Bureau head Sapto Harjono said that the use of sarong is permitted as clothing for state and other official events.
In regard to the presidential inauguration, there is still a chance that he would wear sarong to the inauguration.
Responding to the sarong discourse, author and fashion expert Syahmedi Dean told The Jakarta Post that he hoped Ma’ruf would be wearing sarong to the inauguration as it is part of the nation’s identity.
From a fashion point of view, Syahmedi said sarong can be mixed and matched with formal attire, including suits.
“In New York Fashion Week Menswear Spring 2018, Thom Browne’s collection included a sarong and formal jackets [combination],” Syahmedi shared one of the examples, adding that many ulemas, such as the late preacher Zainuddin MZ, also mixed sarong with formal attire.
A model presents a creation by US designer Thom Browne, during the Men's Fashion Week for the Spring and Summer 2018 collection in Paris, on June 25, 2017. (AFP/Francois Guillot)
Syahmedi also said that other country leaders were frequently seen wearing traditional attire in official ceremonies.
“Meanwhile, suits did not originate from Indonesia,” he said.
Fashion designer Toton Januar shared a similar opinion, saying that sarong was suitable to be used in ceremonial or [formal] events.
“It is a part of our culture, which needs to be [promoted] and preserved,” said the founder of Toton, a local fashion brand.
He said that the way Indonesians dressed was heavily dictated by Western cultures and standards.
"Sometimes what we have as a part of our culture is deemed inappropriate and not good enough,” he said.
Ajeng Dewi Swastiari agreed with Syahmedi and Toton, saying that sarong can be worn for formal events.
As one of the most known fashion stylists in the country, Ajeng said she wanted everyone to express themselves in their fashion choices.
“But I understand that there are some regulations to be followed,” she said, responding to the possibility of Ma’ruf wearing sarong to the inauguration. (wng)
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