The idea of elevating a piece of fabric—by technical methods such as pleating, smocking, ruching or texture—and turning it into something else altogether presents both a challenge and reward to Astrid Nadia Wiradinata. This is also the ethos of her eponymous label, ANW, where every piece made can be traced back to its fabric.
Drawn to compelling dimensions and textures of fabric, and how it transforms when draped on the body, the designer loves the process of “treating a plain fabric into something new—experimenting and achieving random results that I didn’t expect.”
From the start, the label blooms when confronted with limitations. For one, the floral embroideries—which make a regular appearance in all the pieces, almost like a visual stamp of the brand—first developed when she was still a fashion student in Istituto Marangoni in Milan to keep production cost low. Wanting to recreate patterns on her grandmother’s sleeping gown, Nadia challenged herself to craft them by hand.
Similarly, it was during the pandemic she made the decision to run her brand seriously. At the time, she was squeezing in evenings of testing fabric treatments and embroidery samples while working under fashion designer Felicia Budi of fbudi, with whom she shared a common joy: fabric manipulations.
She observed how her time with fbudi helped her “develop a growing sense of value for textiles and Indonesian culture, and the craft of translating that into something contemporary.” It also pressed in her “a deep appreciation for garments, knowing how much time and care goes into each one.”
At the end of last year, ANW took up a shared studio space in Grand Wijaya Center, where, with the help of her now-business partner and long-time friend Ilaine Prasetyo, customers are now able to shop their collections and chat with the designer herself for custom orders in-store.
“The hope was always for ANW to be a treasured piece, something that will be with our customers for a very long time.”
Between the relaxed ‘gorden’ or curtain dress (which was originally put together using leftover curtain material), translucent blazers and the bralettes, ANW’s pieces are loose-fit, sheer, and sit lightly on the body, much like the clothes Nadia favours on the daily. Within its combination of textures, the pieces express balance too. Though they appear to gravitate towards a more feminine and delicate sensibility, Nadia doesn’t wish to label her pieces as strictly for women.
Take the ‘kebaya encim’ for one. In the past, the attire was worn primarily by women of Tionghoa or Betawi descent, reserved for special occasions before the designs were pared back to suit daily wear. Nadia’s modern interpretations, which come in powdery pastel hues and aren’t restricted to gender, stem out of a desire to “bring this tradition back, and create it in a way that would easily be styled with the clothing items you already own.”
Given her interest in fabric and textiles, she finds herself drawn to the kind that doesn’t even make it to store shelves. “I find fabric scraps that are hidden away in corners most intriguing. Rather than telling you what to make with it, it leaves room for invention. It’s the accidental colour bleed or irregular texture that makes the fabric all the more special,” the designer gushed.
Production-wise, this makes things a little tricky as a lot of the fabrics are deadstock and likely unavailable for repurchasing. These constraints don’t seem to trouble her though, instead, the designer sees it as a welcomed challenge; when a fabric is no longer available, she’ll seek out alternatives—and when that’s gone too, she’ll be on the lookout for something else.
Described as wearable art, pieces are produced in small runs and reveal imprints of human hands at work. And in collaboration with local brands slash friends, ANW is also branching out into footwear and accessories; spring sandals and embroidered heels are produced with Dan Liem, accessories take the form of earrings and flower-shaped chain necklaces by Project Piccolo, and recent collections with Tanah Le Saé and Laurencia Irena see an expansion from the translucent frocks that embodied the brand so far.
Going beyond the craft that veils the designs, ANW also believes in cultivating a deep connection with the clothes we wear, pushing past mere on-the-surface sentiments. “In ANW, we love to do a lot of things manually, handmade wire buttons, hand-drawn machine embroidery, every piece will be different from the last and is made special for the owner,” Nadia shared.
This seeps into the brand as well, from detailed care methods to offering repair and mending services, the fashion line places emphasis on creating pieces that are long-lasting. In Nadia’s words: “The hope was always for ANW to be a treasured piece, something that will be with our customers for a very long time.”