Mon, 25 Dec 2000

The young knows well how to dress

JAKARTA (JP): The past decade has seen a tremendous rise in fashion consciousness among young people in Jakarta. Those twenty-somethings -- in relatively well-paid jobs -- are positioning themselves as one of the most important markets for the fashion industry here.

"They are amazing," commented senior fashion designer Chossy Latu. "They are very well educated in fashion appreciation and also in its application when they dress."

Following a trend, they are aware of its small but very important details, such as color co-ordination, in their total look. "I think this consciousness has been increasing positively since six or seven years ago," Chossy added.

Apparently the fashion phenomenon is influenced by various elements. Born in the 1970s, when the country was enjoying economic prosperity, many of the fashion savvy generation were raised under good conditions, got good educations, and now they have good jobs with financial security.

"And don't forget the fact that they live in an era with no boundaries, where there is unlimited access to information both nationally and internationally," Chossy added.

Furthermore, the geographical distinction of Jakarta as the country's biggest business center drives these white collar workers to compete with their professional colleagues from other large cosmopolitan cities in the world. This seriously affects the way they dress.

Forget about the scorching sun or the heavy rain, these young executives drive their own car and work in comfortable offices that provides a conducive atmosphere for them to express their fashion desires. Women, mostly with shoulder-length hairstyles or shorter, like to wear two-piece business suits accessorized with pump shoes and a leather briefcase.

They typically have more than one favorite fashion designer. For exclusive party outfits, they often choose one of the local designers, while for ready-to-wear collections, they might select international brands, said Chossy, whose full-length dresses carry a price tag of at least Rp 2 million each.

While some do not hesitate to outlay millions of rupiah for their clothes, some are more careful with their spending. But one thing is certain, they give weight to comfort, and they have their own style.

Riana Taluki, 26, senior executive at HSBC in Jakarta:

My job requires me to meet a lot of people, so, my appearance must be extremely good, especially if I am required to make a presentation. If you don't dress properly, you won't feel confident. To me, this is really important because it gives the impression of what you want to personally project.

Coordinating colors is important, things should match from hair to toes. Imagine if you dress well, but there are holes in your socks.

But of course, communication skills are also crucial if you want to secure a deal.

I spend a lot of money on my appearance, about 40 to 50 percent of my salary. Well, I have the luxury to spend because I am single and I support myself. I don't have to worry about a house or a car -- I am fortunate to have received them from my parents.

I do the big shopping, like buying business outfits, once every three months when I travel overseas. Yes, I love traveling. I take a long trip, usually to the U.S. where my sister and brother live, once a year. Two, three or four times a year I travel not so far, such as to Singapore, Bali or Medan -- where I participate in professional training.

For my suits, I like Armani, Anne Klein or Donna Karan. For T- shirts, I prefer Calvin Klein. My shoes? Feragamo, Belly, Charles Jordan. For dresses it is the Jessicas, from Beverly Hills.

I never buy my clothes here because I don't want to bump into another person wearing the same outfit.

I graduated from Ohio University, double majoring in marketing and management. When I was still in the U.S. I worked at JC Penney as a management trainee, which increased my fashion awareness. But even before that I already liked fashion.

My handphone is a Nokia 8850. The color? That type has just one color, silver. I have changed my handphone six times -- that includes one which was stolen. Why? Actually I don't like changing my handphone, but ... oh, the temptation to get a new one is sometimes irresistible.

Trully Nainggolan, 25, public relations executive of LaSalle College International, South Jakarta:

I used to buy things that were funky and colorful but since I've had a job I prefer to buy tailored dresses. I have said goodbye to my bright and complicated design outfits with their colorful matching accessories. There go my Miss Matching old days.

Now I prefer to pick more dignified clothes, something classic so that I can mix and match it with other pieces from my wardrobe.

My favorite shopping location is Plaza Senayan, where I can get a gown from Ghea S. Panggabean's boutique, or grab a tailored jacket or blouse in Metro Department Store. I mostly choose plain colors. For shoes, I like the designs from Europe.

Almost half of my paycheck goes toward my routine shopping. What can I say? I have a lot of excuses: I have to go shopping when I am in bad mood; and I also treat myself to shopping when I am happy.

Keke Hidayat, 26, public relations manager, Hyatt Regency Bandung:

Like other employees in the hotel I wear a uniform to work. When I have to attend meetings that allow me to wear something else, I dress in my business suit. I don't really follow fashion trends. I like the classic looks, with colors of dark blue, gray or black.

I don't have a lot of clothes and I don't really care about the brand. What's important is that they look nice and are comfortable. Most of my clothes are locally made, like those of Accent and Invio. I bought my blazer and jacket at prices between Rp 300,000 and Rp 1.5 million while the shirts were around Rp 150,000 and Rp 200,000.

When I visit a shopping mall and I see nice shoes, I like to buy them. But that doesn't mean that I have a huge collection of shoes -- only nine pairs, mostly black. They are not expensive, costing between Rp 200,000 and Rp 300,000.

After I graduated from university, the School of Law, University of Parahyangan, I went to Australia to study. But I ended up working, for less than a year, and then worked in Bali. In Australia and Bali, people dressed very casually. The Australians I worked with were out of fashion, their clothes were rumpled, and maybe this influenced me.

Bandung is nicknamed the Paris of Java. The people are quite trendy. As for myself, I have my own style which I am quite comfortable with.

I drive to work, my car is a 1990 Charade. It's an old car but I like it. I borrowed money from my mother to buy it. My father died when I was in elementary school and since I was a kid I have worked, helping my mother cooking -- she was a food seller. When I was in high school I drew caricatures and sold them to my friends.

Evie Alfini, 28, senior secretary of PT Rama Prada Kriya, Jakarta:

I usually wear a two-piece suit, just anything that reminds me of Ally McBeal.

Unlike Ally, who wears mini-skirts, I will ask my favorite designer to add an extra length to my skirt. Mini-skirts, like Ally's, are not very comfortable for working. A knee-length skirt is my preference.

I go shopping at least once a month, and my favorite place is Pasaraya, Blok M. Practicality is the condition I specifically desire -- the wearable element must come first. Then it doesn't matter whether my suit is Armani or its local copycat, as long as it looks good on me and I feel great wearing it.

Benny Joesoep, 30, deputy director of the finance department at Daimler Chrysler's Mercedes factory in Gunung Putri, south of Jakarta:

It's so difficult for me to find the right tie. I have to consider the color, the design and the material. It should not be too bright and not too conservative. I like silk, but it should not be too thin, and not glossy. I don't care about the brand. As long as it is nice, I will buy it even if it only costs Rp 20,000.

Today, I'm wearing a Hugo Boss checkered shirt. I bought it not because of the brand, but because it is comfortable. My trousers? I don't know the brand ... I'm afraid I have to go to the men's room to find out. I have trousers which carried a price tag of Rp 90,000, but I also have some from Jack Nicklaus' label. You know..? The golfer.

I don't wear suits in my office, but I always have one in my car (a silver Mercedes C 230T). It's an Executive 99, which costs less than Rp 1 million. I do have Hugo Bosses and some other designer suits but, again, I do not buy things because of the brand.

I only have three pairs of shoes: one pair of sports shoes and two others for work. I like the strong, comfortable ones, regardless of the brand.

Because of the way I look some people do not believe that I am the deputy director in the financial department, with over 30 direct subordinates. But that's fine.

What's important is that we dress neatly -- I hate any creases in my clothes.

You see, I am quite stingy with myself. I prefer to save my money, or to spend it for other things like eating out. I enjoy food. I like any kind of food: Indonesian food, Japanese, Italian, French. My favorite restaurants are the Italianni's in Senayan, Edogin on Hotel Mulia and Kirishima in Gran Melia.

I use a Nokia 7110, the one with web access. I got it from the office, but I've never used the web.

I am the ninth of 10 children in my family. My father died when I was 12 and we were taught to be independent from a young age. I studied at the Berlin Institute of Economics and had to work to support myself. I know how hard it is to make money, therefore I am quite careful with my spending.

Budi Santosa, 28, senior graphic designer at Astaga e- solutions in Jakarta:

Your appearance is really important because it is what people notice for the first time. So we must dress neatly. You can be neat in T-shirts, too, as long as they look nice. I like Armani T-shirts, the material is comfortable, the cutting is nice and so is the color. For my suit, I like Boss. Why? Because I lived in Germany (for nine years) and there was an outlet where I could get Hugo suits at a low price.

I returned to Indonesia in February and since then I've never bought any new Hugo Boss suits because when I convert the cost into rupiah, it is very expensive. Here, I buy my clothes at factory outlets. But then you have to face the risk of bumping into people wearing the same clothes. But I don't go out much, so I guess it's ok with me.

It's quite difficult for me to find a tie. I have to consider the size, the motive, the color and the material. I haven't bought any new ties here but I don't really worry, I already have about 50 ties.

Cologne is a must. Usually I use Boss, but right now I am using Romance, from Ralph Laurent. It's not that I smell bad, but the smell gives you a kind of distinction. For instance, my ex- girlfriend once said that when she met somebody using Boss cologne, it reminded her of me.

I have changed my handphone four times. The one I use now is the Nokia 9110, which has an organizer.

I like eating out for lunch and dinner. About 40 percent of my salary goes toward food. Maybe after I get married, I will spend less on food.

Tri Ayu Noverani, 28, a producer at Broadcast Design Indonesia:

I graduated from the Institute of Political and Social Sciences here and I have been working at this office since early 1997. In my first year, I always wore suits. But now that I already know my clients and the other people here, I don't wear suits. I usually wear long sleeve T-shirts, black jeans and leather shoes. Anyway, the people I meet do not wear business suits either.

Because I often meet artists, sometimes I follow their style. For example, when Diana Punky opened her fashion store, I bought some of her clothes.

I am not brand-conscious. But for jeans, I like Levi's. They're really comfortable. I could buy three or four shirts or T-shirts in a month, not the expensive ones, though. Once I spent up to Rp 1.5 million to buy a dress, kebaya -- that's a lot of money! And if my mother knew ... she might complain. There is always space in my wardrobe because I often give away my clothes to charity.

I love perfume. For the past three years I have used Bulgari, for men, it has a mild fragrance I really like.

One thing that I always have in my bag is my hair dryer. I like clean, neat clothes, nice hair and a good smell. (Agni Amorita/T.Sima Gunawan)