How Fashion weeks raise the bar for creative hotspots like Bali

Fashion is a structurally diverse industry with a global impact on macro and micro trends. As traditional fashion epicenters decentralize, the fashion industry is being restructured as new global hotspots emerge. Fashion events are the public face of this largely private industry, which for the most part operates behind the scenes. Bali is a real-time example of this evolution with its growth reflected in the number of fashion-related events that have sprung up in recent years.

This public attention brings a myriad of benefits, such as creative benefits for designers, the benefits of cross-cultural influences on design trends, economic growth and increasing worldwide attention for these new fashion destinations. Here we examine how Bali’s emerging fashion scene and its fashion events will continue to place Bali on the radar in coming years.

Creative Benefits for Designers 

The top international fashion shows are creatively-driven rather than consumer-driven. This doesn’t mean that consumers and clients take a back seat, but that designers have creative freedom to express their artistic talent and gain direct publicity as a result. When an emerging fashion center launches a new Fashion Week, press want to highlight the most original designs, not necessarily the most practical or best-selling. This provides designers with a platform to exercise their imagination with creative vigor, interpreting and reflecting subtle influences that might not be translated otherwise. This level of creativity in turn makes fashion events thrive and easily gain international attention.

Cross-cultural Integration 

Fashion is an indicator of cross-cultural exchanges and can be a positive tool towards increasing awareness globally and shaping identities. Despite its fame as a Western tradition, fashion weeks have played a role in reclaiming cultural identity through personal style. For example, India launched its first show only in the year 2000, which has then grown steadily over the past 18 years. India’s unique fashion aesthetic has a distinct south-asian lens, and hosting a fashion week serves as a way for India and other upcoming fashion countries to control their own narrative. In parallel, cultural appropriation has become a widely discussed topic in the fashion industry, as ethnic trends, such as bindis and Native American headdresses, become popular worldwide. Fashion communicates identity and helps us understand the complicated connections between history, modern culture and its people.

Fashion Drives Economic Growth 

The fashion industry encompasses a broad range of designers, from large design houses to one-person designers. Fashion Week participation raises the bar for smaller brands, requiring them to boost their infrastructure in order to have strong fashion week presence and compete with the larger design houses. As a country’s fashion industry grows, so do the periphery industries. Manufacturing is usually seen as the main economic driver in fashion, while in fact this is only a fraction of the modern apparel industry. Today’s industry depends on lesser-known services such as market research, brand licensing/intellectual property rights, materials engineering, marketing and finally, distribution. This can be seen in the increased employment of computer programmers, lawyers, accountants, copywriters, social media directors as they are swept up in the industry’s growth.

Fashion Events bring International Attention 

Paris Fashion Week is by far the most popular international fashion week, held for haute couture, womenswear and menswear, and taking place over 38 days of the year. However, new global fashion shows are steadily creating more competition as new contenders seek to define their visual cultural identity. Kazakhstan started their first ever fashion week in 2014, which received much attention from the fashion and lifestyle blogging world. Iran and Azerbaijan celebrated their first ever fashion weeks in 2015. The Mercedes Benz STYLO Asia Fashion Week now hosts shows that rotate between China, Korea, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. These fashion weeks attract the international buyers and journalists that push forward the globalization of the domestic fashion industry. As Bali grows as a global fashion epicenter, we’ve selected the fashion events to watch. Participate now while they are still open to the public, and expect them to expand in size and exclusivity in the near future.

Bali Fashion Week 

Bali Fashion Week has been running for over a decade, and features established local fashion icons, Bali designers as well as the ones-to-watch. The last years have featured international designers such as Doii (a Korea-born Parisian designer) as well as Bali-based designers such as Ali Nasrulloh, Muji Ananta and Oka Diputra. Seminars are hosted by WGSN, the leading trend-forecaster in the fashion industry, who discusses the upcoming trends in fabrics and color palettes.

Fashion Revolution Week Bali 

This newer fashion week has a sustainable focus, promoting brands that make high quality, ethical products. This fashion week is hosted by local concept store ToKo, who curates a roster of local designers who share their passion, mission, and vision behind their brands and products. Jember Fashion Carnaval (JFC) Jember Fashion Carnaval was created by local fashion designer Dynand Fariz, who was inspired by the creativity of several regions in Indonesia, such as Bali. The carnival is held in the month of August and follows a similar format to Brazilian carnivals, featuring a street parade with extravagant costumes that showcase Indonesian culture and motifs. This is an excellent show for cultural inspiration, as individual participants, not designers, reinterpret the design traditions from their Indonesian province.

Bali Fashion Trend 

This Fashion event examines the trend inspirations found in Indonesian culture, showing designers’ collections that incorporate traditional materials and motifs, such as tenun, songket, and batik in a contemporary style. A combination of established and emerging are featured. The founders of BFT state “We want to build a stronger foundation to promote local fashion onto the international stage, not just for Balinese, but also for anyone who has a fashion-related business in Bali, including foreigners.” 

Batik Fashion Week 

This is an interesting fashion week to watch, especially as batik has been neglected by the Indonesian authorities only until recently. The Indonesian government fought to patent batik as a heritage-craft only when the Malaysian government stepped in to patent it first. This fashion event was created by the Indonesian Batik Foundation along with the Industry Ministry. As the world-wide popularity of this heritage textile grows, the range of the festival will attract increasing attention.

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By Kerry Clarkson

Kerry is British-Peruvian writer who spent the last decade as a fashion industry creative, living between Europe, the US and South America. She investigates how imagination can be used to innovate new paradigms in art, design, social advances and leading creative thought. To better understand the creative forces molding our future, she experiments with a semi-nomadic lifestyle along with her 7 year-old daughter, exploring the indigenous design culture of rural areas and the art of living.

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