Cita Tenun Indonesia-Taking Tenun to the Global Market

On April 9, we were invited to a meet and greet at Galeri Cita Tenun Indonesia to hear what plans Cita Tenun Indonesia (CTI) has for itself in the near future. CTI was established by a group of women who had a shared passion for tenun, Indonesia’s rendition of weaved cloth. Speaking at the function was chairperson Mrs. Okke Hatta Rajasa, whose devotion to the preservation and expansion of this traditional art was clearly obvious. She won a Women’s Champions and Visionary Award in 2012 for her role in promoting tenun throughout Indonesia while providing opportunities for craftsmen to make a living out of their art. The award was presented in New York in September of 2012, but she will soon be making her way down to the Big Apple again for another event that also gravitates around the esteemed fabric.

Mrs. Okke Hatta Rajasa explains varieties of tenun as designers Auguste Soesastro and Ardistia Dwiasri look on.

CTI has been selected to represent the Indonesian art of tenun at Fashion 4 Development (F4D), a global initiative established as part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals that aims to “implement creative strategies for sustainable economic growth & independence for communities worldwide.” The team will be in New York between April 15-18 to partake in Fashion Group International‘s Trend Report F/W 13/14, with Diane von Fürstenberg coming in as guest moderator! If  you aren’t familiar with Fashion Group International, you may know some its founders: Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, and Lilly Dache.

The board of directors at CTI is worthy of applause for their willingness to modernise tenun without making it lose its essence: they understand that for public interest in the cloth reach fever pitch and it has to be implemented in a manner which will be easily digested and accepted by the masses. They are willing to compromise and meet the public’s needs halfway where figureheads of other traditional textile industries may stick to their guns and stubbornly stick to a classical look.

To fulfill this purpose, CTI has commissioned two designers who very clearly understand the crossroads of the traditional and the modern: Ardistia Dwiasri and Auguste Soesastro were also at the event to explain the fifteen piece collections they will each present in New York. Ms. Dwiasri has prepared a collection largely inspired by Balinese painter, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, by using simple but powerful colours such as black, vanilla, and gold. She understands that to appeal to the international market, tenun-based outfits must be easy to relate to, with plenty of room for mixing and matching. Meanwhile, Mr. Soesastro explains that while tenun may be a source of nostalgia and sentiment at home, it’s “just cloth to foreigners.” This is not the first time he has tried to bridge a cultural dissonance of this sort: he premiered his Kraton line in New York back in 2009 with Javanese and batik-inspired outfits and is ready to do more of the same with tenun.

Do you think tenun is ready for international exposure? Will it be well-received abroad? Let us know which designer look you prefer!

Ardistia Dwiasari

Auguste Soesastro