TIARA SALVABILLA WRITES – Dian Erra Kumalasari is a fashion designer from Indonesia. Her line, Oerip Batik, features traditional Indonesian woven fabric and is targeted towards backpackers worldwide. The designs are ready-to-wear, conventional pieces which are different from the luxury, high fashion lines that Indonesian designers have been trying to push into the spotlight of late. Coming from the small rural village of Ngawi, West Java, Kumalasari is currently trying to promote Indonesian batik to the world, while at the same time supporting marginal groups in Indonesia who make a living from traditional weaving.

Kumalasari’s conventional and anti-mainstream designs have turned up in the United States, as well as several countries in Europe including Belgium, Holland, the Czech Republic and, most recently, Italy. In January, she had a fashion show in Thailand and in February one in Milan.

Along with her designs, the fashion shows also showcased customized umbrellas from Indonesian umbrella craftsman, Heru Mataya. Each piece in Kumalasari’s collection is influenced by the story and philosophy of its weaver. The fashion show in Borsang Village, Shankampaeng Chiangmai, Thailand from January 19 to 21 was also an excellent example of a cultural exchange between these two Asian countries. Each of Kumalasari’s fashion shows open with traditional Indonesian dancing.

Bolstered by a little group in her workshop in Bekasi, West Java, Kumalasari began her journey in 2008 and reached the international market in 2015, teaming with European wholesalers and Indonesians abroad to present her line. She uses social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, on which she has 12,000 followers. Her worldwide purchasers generally shop on the web.

At her most recent Milan fashion show, Kumalasari focused on East Nusa Tenggara’s Sumba and Lembata batik. “I hope my fashion events in Europe will popularize Sumba’s traditional woven fabric and increase the appreciation of various fabrics of ancestral legacy in the archipelago,” she said. “I’ve committed to set aside my sale proceeds to be donated to the local community.”

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