A Decade of MORAL

by Julius Kensan
6th September 2023
In celebration of a decade of MORAL, designer Andandika Surasetja pulls in collaborators from fashion and graphic design to architecture to present a parade of 55 looks that continues to channel the grittiness of youth culture.

The ongoing dreadful air quality in Jakarta gives off the sense that we’re already living in the harrowing future that scientists and eco-thrillers have long warned us about. The smog that blankets the city has become such a common sight that no one seems to bat an eyelid. Life goes on as usual although their coughs beg to differ. 

Before MORAL’s show began in the Dome building at the outdoor area of Senayan Park, guests bedecked in all black (following the dress code of the show) waited outside, chatting away as though queueing for entry to the hottest club in town. Inside the darkened space of the Dome, automated voices gently beckoning the guests to make their way in gave the strange feeling that we were inside a rocket ship waiting to depart. Off to a distant planet, away from the pollution, the climate change and the pressures of present-day living, to start anew in a fresh colony.

The show was a celebration of MORAL’s 10th anniversary. Designer Andandika Surasetja divided the 55 looks into four sections (represented by the emotions of angst, joy, doubt and love). It was a large-scale show for the brand, not only in the amount of looks but also the number of collaborators that Andandika roped in, from graphic design (Karyarupa), architecture installation (FFFAAARRR) to a medley of local brands (Sebastian Gunawan, ANW, Tanah Le Saé and MTW, to name a few). 

It resulted in a collection that was, in a way, a “greatest hits” moment cranked up to the maximum. Those who are newly acquainted with the brand would pick up a handful of elements. For one, it’s clear that Andandika loves outerwear. There were many of them—duotone overcoats, cropped leather jackets and fuzzy bathrobe-style coats. The designer also gravitates towards shiny textures. In particular, the shiny metallic denim jacket that had recurred in the past. 

The designer is right in collaborating—after all, no man is an island. It’s a feat to gather many collaborators without losing the essence of MORAL (one can only imagine the logistical nightmare that comes with it). Over the years, through collections and campaigns, there is a sense that Andandika is attracted to the grittiness of youth culture especially in the context of the big city. The designer injected this sensibility into the show and reimagined it through styling to anchor the collection in the present. The styling, with unabashed confidence and nonchalance, would gel very well with the younger audience. 

But the show could also use some editing. Andandika could have fine-tuned or completely removed the pieces and styling that bring to mind established styles from international big brands. Case in point, the furry shoes immediately hark back to Phoebe Philo’s Céline (although some of the audience may be too young to remember the moment), while other looks also carried a whiff of Raf Simons, Prada and Miu Miu.

Ultimately, after a parade of 55 looks, the collection didn’t lack youthfulness. It’s the taste of the future of MORAL that is missing. The installation of the skeletal scaffolding in the middle of the runway, which the models passed through, ironically served as a metaphor for the brand. There’s plenty of the past and present, and not enough of what MORAL could be moving forward.

Still, a decade-long milestone for a local fashion brand is nothing to be chafed at. Any fashion designer can vouch that it’s not easy to juggle the creative demands, the business aspects and the unrelentless progress of technology that’s affecting the industry. Post-show, Andandika tenderly described it as “a full-circle moment. Love is at the heart of it all. Having people who share the same vision and faithfully support our journey at MORAL makes me feel more than just grateful but truly blessed. I’ll always remember that the reason I started and the motivation to persist is rooted in love.”