The Meaning of Home in TOTON FW21

by Hilda Nathalia Raina
15th April 2021
Using exclusively materials available in the studio, TOTON’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection rediscovers the narratives of home through the lens of nostalgia and delicate sensibility.

This period of quarantine has forced designer Toton Januar to connect with things and people that truly mattered in his life: in his creative approach, memories of home is a recurring theme even in the newest Fall/Winter 2021 collection for TOTON, and through which he celebrates them. For him, home is captured in precious snippets of his childhood and family. It takes the humble form of these memories; the trellis gate that welcomes him home, the familiar hues of white and blue ceramics propped in the living room. 

The same sense of serenity ran to the clothes in TOTON FW21, manifested into soft silhouettes; embroidered sheer tops, scalloped edges, hand-painted stockings and detachable collars are contrasted with structured lace outerwear and reconstructed denims, with patches left to hang loose at the bottom. 

Reminiscent of the ceramics that decorated his home, the aforementioned set (shaped to resemble a flower vase when pieced together) are adorned with decoupaged white and blue floral motifs. Drawing influences from Javanese Batik Biron and an interplay of Chinese and Dutch ceramics, the same patterns are reinvented further and polished into abstract shapes of rings, brooches, earrings, also found in their leather heels, re-crafted from their 2016 collection.

For a while now, the brand TOTON, which the designer started with his longtime partner Haryo Balitar have been experimenting with material circularity and methods of upcycling. Proving his ability to converse the language, he exercised innovative ways of repurposing leftover materials from his previous collections to make anew. To name a few, he drafts neoprene into top hats and belts, denim off-cuts into patched trousers and slim jackets, and kawung lace are dyed and turned into oversized coats. 

As expected from the designer, tradition and female identity remains a connecting thread in his work. And you see echoes of this in his FW21 accessories. Maybe it’s the material he chose, but the body casts in particular retells stories of femininity, “As if a protection and ‘home’ to a fragile body,” describes the designer a nod to the uncertainty of the current times. 

The pandemic has definitely been a new world for all of us, but for Toton creatively, it is one where “all its limitations and demands altered my way of thinking. There is a lot of self-reflection, and in my opinion, we all need to come out of it with a new understanding.” For him and his brand, this means making steps forward to maximise fabric use, and finding balance within the overarching elements of the industry: practicality, creativity and business, oriented towards a more hopeful year.