This Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday, Malaysian Sharifa Ahmad is determined to make heads turn in her “Made in Indonesia” outfit —a black flowing chiffon robe with embroidered neckline and matching headscarf hand stitched with Swarovski crystals.
“The dress is perfect for the holy day — modest yet elegant. I’m definitely going to rock my little black Islamic dress,” the 35-year-old civil servant said.
Ahmad is among a growing number of Muslim fashionistas across the region who visit Indonesia to splurge on new festive clothes to celebrate the end of the Ramadanh on Friday.
The country’s Islamic fashion industry reported a spike in sales of between 20 percent and 30 percent as early as June, thanks mainly to buyers like Ahmad from Malaysia and Singapore, retailers said.
Busloads of women flock to textile markets in cities like Jakarta and Yogyakarta to buy fabric, ready-to-wear dresses and headscarves, textile seller Azizah said.
“They will come in tour buses, choose what they like and buy 10 to 20 pieces of fabric. When they return to their countries, some telephone us to place more orders,” she said.
Ahmad flew on a budget airline from Kuala Lumpur in July, bought the fabric at a textile market in Jakarta and sent it to an Indonesian seamstress “to work her magic” before getting an friend to post it to her in Malaysia.
“I paid 600,000 rupiah [US$66 dollars] for it, half of what I would pay if I had it made in Malaysia. It’s a bargain for designer quality,” she said.
Chiffon, silk and crepe fabrics draping the silhouette in softer pastel colors, highlighted by delicate embellishments on the neck lines, are top fashion picks this year. Plainer headscarves strewn with Swarovski crystals replaced last year’s heavily embroidered beehive and turban craze.
“Some people shop for themselves. Others buy to resell. They would buy 10 yards of fabric of the same design in three colors, tailor the dresses here and sell them at a higher price in their boutiques back home,” textile merchant Vishal Kumar said.
Hoping to cash in on one of the most important dates on the Islamic calendar, Islamic fashion designer Dian Pelangi flew to Cairo, Abu Dhabi, London, Australia and Malaysia several months ago to hawk her wares. She said she sold “thousands” of pieces from her Eid collection at exhibitions in those countries for about 2.5 million rupiah each.
“Arab women are glamorous. They love their bling. My Islamic brown robes with hand-drawn batik detail at the bottom were sold out. Those with beadwork and rhinestones were also popular,” she said.
“Middle Eastern customers don’t bargain much and when they like something, they buy a lot. Some buy 20 to 30 pieces at one go. It’s a very lucrative market,” Pelangi said.
Sales of her Islamic dresses, priced from US$20 to US$300, tripled in July and jumped 10 times last month as local buyers joined in, she said.
Indonesia offers lower prices, quality workmanship, creativity in design and a variety of fabrics, from batik and ikat weaving to gold-threaded songket.
Hassan Marican, director of Singaporean company Second Chance Properties, said it imported 20 percent of its ready-made festive dresses from Indonesia and sold them at double the cost price.
“We buy from Indonesia because it’s cheap. For us businessmen, it all boils down to the price. Also we want some embroidery and beadwork. Our suppliers in China and Malaysia can’t provide that,” he said. “For Islamic fashion, Malaysia and Singapore always look to Indonesia for pointers. They’re very creative. Their headscarf designs are unmatchable.”
Industry Minister MS Hidayat said export of textiles and textile products this year was projected to reach US$10 billion, up from US$9.26 billion last year, or about 8 percent of total exports.
While fashion creations represented only a small fraction of those exports, there is great room for expansion, he said.
“Fashion products have great potential to be developed. We’re rich in natural resources and cultural heritage which can be inspiring and spur creativity,” he said.
He hopes Indonesian designers can help change the world’s perception that Islamic attire is dull, stuffy and unfashionable.
“Sometimes when you mention Muslim or Islam, people develop an allergy. They think it’s a very scary religion,” Indonesian Fashion Designers Association chairman Taruna Kusmaryuda Kusmayadi said.
“Islamic attire can be both modest and stylish. And also fun. They aren’t worn only during special Islamic days by country folks who read the Koran day and night. Modern city women wear them too while filling up gas for their BMWs,” he said. “Islamic fashion is borderless.”
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around