Jakarta Fashion Week 2019: Lekat, fbudi, TOTON

by Julius Kensan
25th October 2018
Toton delivered a stellar collection. Meanwhile, fbudi forged a new path and the dilemma of Lekat.

For years, Lekat has successfully established itself as the label advocating traditional woven textiles from the Baduy tribe in Banten. While the early collections of Lekat seem to be hyperconscious of its role in promoting Baduy textiles, it wasn’t until early this year that designer Amanda Lestari has found the right balance in incorporating that heritage into the current times, like complementing the woven textiles with thin, crumply organza for a more tactile effect.

However, that balance appears to be lost in the latest collection. Even with the theme of flower as the anchor, they come across disorganised as a whole. It’s as if Amanda herself was unsure of the direction or simply running out of idea. What’s apparent is the diminishing role of the Baduy textiles. They no longer take on the leading role and instead reduced to trimmings – decorating the hemline of a dress and abstract patches on a jacket.

Perhaps, Amanda is looking to move on from Baduy textiles and changes are of course very much welcome. But even if she’s looking for a change in direction, her effort is lacking in assurance. This collection is unfortunately lost within its own dilemma.

“I want to get out of the city. I need to be surrounded by trees, the nature.” Felicia Budi of fbudi told me a few weeks ago prior to the show during my visit to her boutique store, Ruko Roxy Mas E2/30. Her frustrations on life in the city and the brutal pace of fashion are something that many of us can relate to on a personal level.

It is within this discontent that Felicia has found herself steering towards a new path for fbudi – much more spontaneous in its expression and completely unencumbered from any trend. By utilising both old (from her collection and archive) and new materials, Felicia set out to create pieces designed with body movement in mind that were made by draping them directly on the body to leave as little waste as possible.

Her awareness on waste in fashion is certainly not a recent preoccupation. In fact, Felicia has been working hard to reduce it in the label for years through deft pattern drafting skills. Plus, her attention to body movement also comes from a personal experience. The designer is an avid practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu for a long time now.

The result is a collection that exudes the grace of a dancer. Even though Felicia incorporated traditional textiles – hand-woven fabric from Pekalongan and indigo silk dyed in Flores – the focus is still firmly planted in how they move with the body, becoming one with the wearer. Although she may be taking a break from fashion for a period of time, this collection signifies a new reconfiguration for fbudi. It’ll be interesting to see what she would come up with next after her sabbatical break.

Toton Januar also delivered a successful show. His eponymous label, TOTON is probably the most anticipated show on the calendar. Applause erupted even before the first look was sent out the runway.

The designer has been experimenting with recycled materials since last year, but Toton continues on developing the approach to this collection, showing his commitment in tackling the issue of excess within the fashion industry instead of using it as mere concept.

The experimentation has yielded results that surpass previous effort. Case in point, if the raffia skirt – resembling thatched roof – seems stiff and chunky in his fall 2017, here they are softer and almost weightless, especially on the lovely sleeveless gossamer dress with raffia fringe that moves with a life of its own (although the idea of cleaning the garment is another matter altogether and possibly a drycleaner’s nightmare).

The feminine and diaphanous quality of the collection, in particular the beautiful hand embroideries of flora, was juxtaposed with gruff denim fabric. Toton is not only satisfied with just the idea of deconstruction. Denim fabrics in different shades of blue were ripped apart into strips, before reconstructed to create jacket and pants. And as the cherry on top, the same method was applied to the scene-stealing bucket hats and covetable sling bags.

It is impressive how Toton swiftly builds up your desire to feel the clothes. Imagine seeing those three-dimensional flower embroideries flutter as you move in them. Imagine the gentle rustling sound of the raffia fringe that induces autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). This collection is irresistible because it massages your senses. Toton sets the bar high and it is not an overstatement to claim that he is currently the most exciting fashion designer in the country.