JFW 2014: Winning Looks at a Cross-Cultural Fashion Exchange

Part of this year’s Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW) appeal came in the form of veteran designers from Japan, South Korea, and The Netherlands who showed off their SS ’14 collections at the Fashion Tents by Senayan City. These shows by international designers were some of the ones I was looking forward to the most, and I was not disappointed!

In a really fun twist, the JFW committee arranged for an exchange of cultures to take place at one of these shows I was anticipating the most: to “celebrate the 40 years of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and South Korea,” the Korean Cultural Center and JFW invited a Korean designer and challenged him to present a collection made out of traditional Indonesian textiles such as tenun and ikat. Conversely, an Indonesian designer was given the same challenge and was asked to present a collection inspired by South Korean culture.

The label that was flown into JFW direct from Seoul was Kaal E. Suktae, the brainchild of a South Korean label by a designer named Lee Suk Tae. Lee has a penchant for structured, geometric pieces with a consistent element of futuristic avant-garde in all his work, pulled together by precision tailoring. The label itself was launched in 1997, and his success as a designer has allowed him to represent his country at fashion shows and train shows in New York, Paris, Singapore, and more.

Lee used plenty of whites in the SS ’14 collection we saw at JFW, and there was also a digital print that reminded me of steel paneling on the Death Star from Star Wars. I particularly enjoyed his use of leather on skirts, panels on tops, and hems on dresses, which added an earthy touch to a collection that was otherwise very sterile-looking.

When we had our fill of looks from the Kaal E. Suktae SS ’14 collection, we were treated to Lee’s reinterpretation of Indonesian tenun. I thought it was really neat to see that he kept his personal vision of futurism in the cut and silhouette of the outfits, even when given a completely alien material to work with. He maintained the sturdy, minimalistic look and added the touches of black and leather panelling that kept the outfits from looking like costumes from The Jetsons. There was so little deviation from his usual style that if we did not know any better, we’d be forgiven for thinking this was part of his SS ’14 collection.