Indonesian Muslim fashion seeks broader appeal

Harumi OZAWA
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Rani Hatta's Muslim-influenced collection combines loose-fitting "modest wear" with monotone sporty minimalism

Loose-fitting "modest wear" combines with monotone sporty minimalism in the unconvential motifs of Rani Hatta's Muslim-influenced collection.

Eschewing the hijab, her female models cover their hair with a baseball-like cap worn over a tight hood and stylish big turtle-neck collar.

The up-and-coming Indonesian designer is working to prove that fashionable Islamic style can remain faithful to religious teachings while also appealing to non-believers.

"Because I am an Indonesian, I make clothes for Muslims," Hatta told AFP after showing off her fall/winter 2017 collection at Tokyo Fashion Week.

"But my design is very universal, so anybody can wear it."

Her contemporary style owes much to her signature straight cuts and eye-catching wide red bands running across tops like gigantic stitches, adding a touch of colour to the mostly black, grey and white lineups.

The material, mainly cotton polyester and bonded fabrics, provide a non-traditional look, while loose-fitting pants and tops as well as long layered vests assure modesty.

Hatta said religious requirements do not bar wearers from dressing stylishly.

Young Indonesian Muslims in particular are finding ways to stay faithful to the teachings of their religion while exploring progressive fashion trends, she said.

- 'Very stylish' -

"I want to show to the world that, actually, modest wear can be very cool, and can be very universal, not just a black long dress or something like that," Hatta said.

"In my country, the younger generation think that wearing the hijab is really old fashioned and they don’t want to wear it. So I made something more for us so the younger generation would be proud to wear hijab."

The Muslim fashion industry is rapidly expanding in the global market, with world brands like Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana and Japan's Uniqlo offering Islamic style products.

Uniqlo in 2015 enlisted British designer Hana Tajima to design a range aimed at Muslim women in the run up to the fasting month of Ramadan, a big shopping holiday season.

Muslim fashion in Indonesia differs significantly from Saudi Arabia and some Gulf countries, where many women wear the niqab, which covers the face except for the eyes.

Muslims are expected to make up nearly 30 percent of the world's population by 2050, according to Pew Research Center, and Indonesia is aiming to become a leader in global fashion with its budding modest wear trend.

"We have 250 million people in Indonesia, and 70 to 80 percent are Muslim," said Lenni Tedja, director of Jakarta Fashion Week.

"The modest wear fashion is now very creative, very fashionable, very stylish, so that is why more and more young ones start wearing modest wear," she told AFP.

She added that the Indonesian fashion business sees potential beyond Muslim consumers.

"Our modest wear could also be worn by non-Muslim(s)... without the cover... so actually the market is very wide."