As the latest edition of Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW) began and ended on October 20 and 26, the annual fashion event officially passed the 10-year mark and embarked on a new era. Started in 2007, JFW has been growing steadily and gradually into a respected fashion event in Southeast Asia and the international fashion industry in general, attracting more and more foreign designers and brands to not only show their collections, but also collaborate with the local names.
This year’s event sees designers and brands from UK, Australia, Japan, South Korea and also India and Pakistan. Indeed, 71 years after the two nations parted, India and Pakistan somehow found themselves side by side in the capital of Indonesia.
Representing their respective countries, the two participating brands both delivered their collections, whose features and characteristics feel distinctive yet familiar at the same time.
Zuria Dor (Pakistan)
Showing their “The Woman” collection on the first day of JFW, Zuria Dor is a Pakistani contemporary brand co-founded by two sisters, Madiha Latif and Kinza Latif. Interestingly, the sisters majored in product design engineering and aerospace engineering, instead of fashion designing. After receiving their education in UK, the Latifs returned home with a mission to join in their nation’s emerging economy efforts.
The sisters couldn’t be more fitting with the country’s “Emerging Pakistan” campaign. Young and forward-minded, they set on building a fashion label that “think globally and act locally.”
The Latifs’ global thinking is embodied in Zuria Dor’s up-to-date and woke feel. Behind the scenes, the brand practices sustainability by using natural fabrics and puts emphasis on employee welfare. But it’s what they reveal on the runway that really turn people’s heads and make them see Zuria Dor—and Pakistani fashion in general—in a different light. At least that’s what happened during the brand’s show at JFW.
Daring, feminine, flirty and skin-baring, Zuria Dor’s “The Woman” collection was a complete surprise for the local audience at JFW who expected to see an array of modest and covered-up outfits from a Pakistani label.
Sequined and pastel colored party dresses and semi-casual pieces at the first half of the show were definitely an eye-opener, but at times, they fell flat. Funnily enough, the modern collection shone the most during the latter half of the show, when the models walked down the runway in traditional attire-inspired ensembles.
Zuria Dor’s Fashion Show Finale
In spite of everything, Zuria Dor’s show was a commendable achievement. It’s strange to see the local audience’s amazement upon witnessing the brand’s non-Islamic collection (especially considering that there are more Moslems in Indonesia than in Pakistan). But it just goes to show that most people have a very limited perception on Pakistan, and the brand exists to open their minds. Zuria Dor, in this case, was a successful learning experience.
Vaishali S (India)
Founded in 2001 in Mumbai by designer Vaishali Shadangule, Vaishali S is a fashion brand that focuses on creating pieces made from hand-woven Indian traditional textiles. Vaishali S has been skillfully taking hundreds of years of tradition and breathing a new life into it. So far, the label has presented 19 collections in a number of international events, from Lakme Fashion Week to New York Fashion Week.
Vaishali S shares the same passion and awareness for sustainability and human welfare with Zuria Dor. Not only does the label uses natural fabrics and encourages to reduce textile waste, Vaishali the designer has also journeyed through villages in India to find traditional weavers and provide a helping hand for them. The brand works with around 700 weavers, most of them female, to produce every detail in the pieces.
And anyone can see how much work put into them when Vaishali S held its fashion show on the second day of JFW. It helps that the models walked in a painstakingly slow manner down the runway; it allowed the audience to enjoy the designs and study the handmade details more carefully. Perhaps it also served as a symbol of the amount of time used to make an outfit.
While Vaishali S is determined to make traditional Indian textiles more relatable to the modern consumers, there was a short of contemporary styles in their collection. It seems that, unlike Pakistan’s Zuria Dor, Vaishali S has no urgency to change the perception of or rebrand the Indian fashion. Besides, most people—and not only the audience at JFW—are already familiar with it, thanks to, in part, fashion brands like Vaishali S itself. Instead of coming out with an entirely modern collection, Vaishali S embraces its heritage and carefully, instead of forcefully, displays it in front of the world, giving them the necessary time to digest and accept it.