Jakarta. Hong Kong Fashion Week, or HKFW, is one of the largest fashion weeks and trade shows in Asia. Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the event draws in more than 1,400 exhibitors from 23 countries each year.
In mid-January, four Indonesian fashion students from Istituto di Moda Burgo Indonesia (IMBI) had a rare opportunity to present their Fall/Winter 2018 collections in this international event.
This opportunity was the result of the collaboration between the Italian fashion institute and one of the biggest fashion associations in the country, Indonesia Fashion Chamber (IFC).
During the collaboration, Ali Charisma, the chairman of IFC, mentored six of the institute's final-year students between August and October 2017.
"Entering the fashion industry is not easy," Ali said during a press conference in Jakarta on Jan. 23. "We, as senior fashion designers, should help these young students get their foot in the door."
The students' collections were also presented at the Jakarta Fashion Week in October last year.
"I was very happy with [the student] collections [presented] in JFW," Ali said. "They were more than ready for HKFW 2018."
Ali Charisma has taken part in HKFW every year since 2004.
"HKFW is like a second home to me," Ali said. "I know all the little details [of the exhibition]. I can definitely help these students fit in."
The fashion institute selected four students from the collaboration project — Jessica Welia Halim, Julianto, Raegita Zoro and Rilya Krisnawati — to present their collections at HKFW 2018.
"It's been a real eye-opening experience for us," Rilya said. "HKFW has a well-established system and a great team of professionals that takes good care of exhibitors and buyers."
For HKFW 2018, the young designer presented her jewelry collection, called "Rajah" (Tattoo), for her brand Jumpanona.
The jewelry collection was inspired by the hand-tapped tattoos of Dayak tribesmen in Kalimantan.
"I was both surprised and very happy," 25-year-old Rilya said. "Many international buyers came into my booth and said they wanted to buy my creations."
Rilya is currently negotiating with two buyers from Hong Kong and Italy who have expressed interests to feature her works in their multibrand stores.
Each of the students had their own booths in HKFW 2018. They also presented their collections in a joint fashion show on the third day of HKFW 2018 on Jan. 17.
"I cried when I watched their show," Jenny Yohana Kansil, principal of IMBI, said. "I'm so proud that they did so well."
Jessica Welia Halim presented a collection called "The Empress" for her brand JWH at HKFW 2018.
"My inspiration was Queen Victoria," Jessica said. "She was a powerful and independent woman, very much like today's modern women."
Jessica used songket fabric from Palembang for her collection, traditionally recognized as "the queen of all fabrics."
"Hong Kong people were very interested with the songket," the 23-year-old said. "They said the fabric's bright red and yellow colors suit Chinese New Year celebrations."
Aside from connecting with Hong Kong buyers, Jessica is also in correspondence with buyers from India and France.
Raegita Zoro's collection, called "Rebellious Part 2," also won the attention of Hong Kong's fashionista.
"They say my style is 'very Hong Kong,'" the designer said.
Raegita's punkish collection is dominated by black fabric with occasional bursts of yellow, lime green and pink.
Buyers from India and Dubai have expressed their interest in Raegita's collection.
Julianto meanwhile presented a women's ready-to-wear collection called "Embrace" for his brand Mojuya during HKFW 2018.
"HKFW has taught me a lot about the fashion business," Julianto said. "To be successful internationally, a designer should not only think about his designs, but also his pricing, packaging and shipment."
Inspired by Mount Bromo in East Java, Julianto's collection features elegant evening dresses in soft natural hues, embellished with crystals, pearls and sequins.
"I'm currently negotiating with three buyers from Australia, Kuala Lumpur and New York," the 29-year-old designer said.
Mentor Ali said he was very pleased with the international attention received by the students during HKFW 2018.
"[These students] have taken their first step into the international fashion market," Ali said. "Within the next year or two, they could present their collections in Shanghai, Milan, Paris or London."