Despite the rain and a dip in temperature, visitors continued to flow into tent where the fashion show would be held and along the food stalls that sold typical Indonesian snacks. The event itself was held at the Consulate General Melbourne.
Accompanied by traditional music, Kawanua Melbourne dancers opened the event with Tumatenden Dance from North Sulawesi. Little Josephine then sang “Ibu Kita Kartini" (Our Mother Kartini), accompanied by angklung, traditional bamboo music, which was performed by the ladies from Dharma Wanita Persatuan (DWP).
As the chit chat faded into silence, the melodious traditional songs form Indonesia filled the room. One by one, the models began to move gracefully onto the runway, posing in batik clothing nuanced with modern design. At times, the models also shared the stage with singer Fadila and dancer Maria Leeds who gracefully brought the house down.
After the fashion show, the stage event was enlivened by three Indonesian designers, Nita Azhar, Najua Yanti, and Martha Ellen, and also the founder of Kisaku, the first online shop in Australia that aims to bring Indonesian heritage inspired products into Australia, Lenny Chudri, in a 45 minute talk show. The four special guests presented their views on the topic "Indonesian Fashion in the Global Market ".
The products of seventeen designers featured in the fashion show segment were also available for purchase through the indoor market. The visitors happily perused all the available items, ranging from clothing, bags, to accessories.
The desire to find a space for Indonesian products in the Australian market, delivered by DWP Chairman Yohana Umbara, became the motivation behind the six weeks of preparation for the Indonesian Heritage Exhibition. The same vision was also shared by Lenny Chudri and Felicia Sidharta, founder of Kisaku's online business platform. The two were then met by the trade attaché, Mr. Nurimansyah, who also had these ideals on the government agenda. Through the serendipitous meeting between DWP and Kisaku at Melbourne Fashion Week in March 2017, the two parties finally agreed to unite their energy and focus in launching the first fashion show at the Melbourne consulate.
Kisaku is an online business platform that markets Indonesian products from handmade Indonesian craftsmen in Yogyakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, Bali and Flores. Unlike other online business in general, Kisaku is built upon a social responsibility toward Indonesian craftspeople who aims to break into the overseas market. Part of Kisaku’s profit will go into a one-year MicroEduLoan program that educates craftspeople on business management skills such as marketing and product design.
"Based on our observations, there are craftspeople who have the ability to design, but need further guidance into selling their products overseas. Inspired by my experience of studying in Singapore, where I see many students can go to higher education because of loan assistance from the government, we finally decided to use some of our profit to provide upskilling programs, "said Lenny.
As the international face of Indonesian brands, Kisaku is extermely careful in choosing business partners, especially product suppliers. "In Kisaku, the curation process is rather lengthy. We carefully select the brands that are seeking to enter the Australian market . We seek their long term plans and their seriousness in partnering with us to introduce Indonesian Heritage overseas. There are a few brands that have a very rigid stance at partnership that we unfortunately won’t be able to entertain. "
Lenny said that the success of their business in the future will not only benefit Kisaku, but also the parties who join them. "Actually if we succeed, it's not just Kisaku’s success. Kisaku is the collective of the brands we represent. If we succeed, it is owed to the brands, along with the artisans that we work with, “ she concluded.
Yohana of DWP expressed her joy on the ability of the even to be the bridge between Australia and Indonesia. "As Chairman of DWP, I feel happy because this event could be the initial gateway of entry of Indonesian products abroad. All this time I get rather upset when I see Indonesian products emulated and imitated by other countries, and at times, being sold in their markets. "
She also hoped that after the event, Kisaku can still have a mission to guide the businesswomen who have sold their products in the event to be able to break through the Australian market. "I hope the Kisaku team can continue to help the Indonesian brands who wished to enter the Australian market, and realize the trade ministry message to them to see to it that Indonesian local products can penetrate the Australian market," she said.
Yohana Umbara felt that this year's event of Dharma Wanita Unity (DWP) Melbourne is better than last year. She hoped that in the following year, DWP can hold a more spectacular event.
As translated from: Buset - an Indonesian community paper in Australia
Click here for more pictures from the event.