I was recently reading an interesting article from Washington Post by Sarah Halzack called "Why are sales suffering at so many women’s stores? They made bad clothes." and I can't help thinking about how today's shoppers are so much more value-driven than older generation shoppers.
Halzack mentions about how post-recession we see a real downturn in sales from middle-class retailers (Gap, Anthropologie, J.Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor to mention a few), and how the real reason for this is how savvy consumers have become. Today's moderns shoppers (including me) are not willing to pay $88 for a cheap unlined polyester sack dress. We revel in quality fabric, excellent cutting, and notable pieces.
Garance Dore describes this shopping process aptly in her book "Love, Style, Life":
I can't agree more with this! As a very value-conscious shopper who knows how much profit margin the fashion industry makes, I believe that every piece you own in your wardrobe should have a good return-on-investment.
While we all love Zara, H&M, and Forever 21, shopping there will make you have the same clothing as everyone else - you'll end up wearing the same uniform as everyone which well, kinda sucks because we revel in our individuality (I mean, who means the same #OOTD as another blogger, right?). Mix and match can only take you so far, so nowadays, I'm resorting to looking at local Indonesian fashionpreneurs to have key statement pieces that cannot be copied. After coming back to Indonesia, I did some trial and error to find places where they sell good quality clothing for a great value. It wasn't easy - photos on Instagram can be taken from other websites, cutting & sewing were subpar once they arrived at home (I would say this is the number one issue), and some even never delivered their clothes.
Here are some of my favorite fashion lines in Indonesia to get those key statement pieces that makes you stylishly unique without causing a hole in your wallet:
Cotton Ink (www.cottonink.co.id): This amazing line by Carline Darjanto and Ria Sarwono has made it big in Indonesia. They won Forbes 30 under 30 Asia for retail in 2016, and have made collaboration with Indonesia's rising star, Raisa. What I love most about them is that their clothes are made for everyone in mind - meaning you can be obese, thin, young, old, stylish or classic and there is something for everyone. Additionally, they do have retail presence - you can find their store at Kemang and Plaza Senayan, and also buy their clothes at The Goods Dept.
Label Eight (www.label8store.com): This is a new brand by Alberta Claudia Undarsa is the next big thing in the market. Everything is done in-house (just like how Zara started out): from fabric manufacturing, pattern making, cutting, sewing, to even marketing. When I talked to one of the employees, she mentioned that the owner can even make the patterns herself, even though she is a medical doctor. I'm looking forward to seeing this line grow even more and shop more, obviously!
Shop at Velvet (www.shopatvelvet.com): This great line by Yessi Kusumo and Randy W. Sastra was cited by Femina as one of the top 10 online fashion businesses in Indonesia. I really love their simple cutting with just a bit of an edgy twist. It makes a statement without being loud, which is something that is lacking in fashion nowadays. You can find their products in retail (yay!) at The Goods Dept, Widely Project or Happy-Go-Lucky.
Love and Flair (www.loveandflair.com): If you are looking for statement pieces that will impress and bedazzle your family and friends, this is the place to go. This fashion e-commerce by fashion influencer Emily Jaury and Dewi Purwati carries tons of good brands including X Arissa by Arissa Cheo, Reves Studio, and Paulina Katarina. In-house, they also produce their own labels: Club Clueless, Love x Flair, Suki The Label, and my personal favorite, Real Eyez Studio. What makes this brand stand out from others is their awesome return & exchange policy, which most stores in Indonesia have not implemented yet.
Ladies Shop (https://www.instagram.com/ladiessshop_/): For my basics at a shoe-string budget, I tend to gravitate to this online Instagram shop which imports directly from Hong Kong and Bangkok. Everything they sell is under IDR 125,000 (equivalent to SGD 13 or around USD 10), which means I get to buy more stuff (yassss!!!). They are quite basic in the sense that they do not have any website so you will have to order via LINE or WhatsApp, but in terms of fabric, cutting, and sewing quality, they do quite well. Be sure to ask for more info before you order as sometimes they don't provide all the info that you need to make the purchase.