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Podcast With Didiet Maulana, Creative Director of IKAT Indonesia

Hi, welcome listeners! I'm Kiki (K) from IDN Media. Now, I have joined Didiet Maulana (DM), an Indonesian designer on the rise. He is a graduate of the Parahyangan Catholic University in Bandung, West Java, with an architecture degree.

In 2011, he founded his brand called IKAT Indonesia with a mission to reinforce Indonesian woven fabrics. This podcast will provide insight into his extraordinary work by highlighting the tools, approaches, and innovations behind his highly successful brand. So, let's get started.

First, and thank you for joining me today.

We chatted a little bit about Mas DiDiet Maulana's journey into the fashion industry until now. Can you tell me, how does Mas Didiet begin his journey in the fashion industry in the country?

DM (2: 31-4: 25)

So the interest in fashion is actually from an early age. As time goes by, after graduating from high school, instead of taking fashion school but taking a school that half has art, half has the term so or exact count because it likes mathematics. Finally, look for the combination of half and half so, so take the architecture at that time. Because in my opinion, architecture is a measurable art, so at that time, studying at an architect then graduated. And after graduating but never an architect.

So working first in the media was at that time. So at that time, working in the international television media brand in Indonesia, in Jakarta, then to Singapore, then to Bangkok also on MTV in 2003. Well, then when it finished working there than working at a retail company that did hold for fashion, one of the distributors' international fashion brand in Indonesia. So starting from there finally deepens the world of fashion retail. Finally, in 2011, it felt like there was a call to want to make your brand. Because it seems like the capital time is enough, that is knowledge capital and all capital to build a brand. Finally, we made it in 2011, a brand called IKAT Indonesia.

C (4: 26-4: 47)

Okay. It means, we pull back a little, get into the media career there, and also the media into the international world eventually continue to migrate to fashion. I wonder what the turning point that made Mas Didiet finally "okay, I want to make IKAT Indonesia is". What is your inspiration?

DM (4: 48-6: 17)

One inspiration that occurred was when around 2009/2010 was in an uproar in social media at that time was Indonesian batik wanted to be recognized by other countries. And finally, because of the excitement, I also wanted to protest. But his protest with, "Wow, this can't be like this." Because we are Indonesian, sometimes we take it for granted. Because we have too much, we end up not appreciating what we have.

Well, that good thing happened. Because it reminds us of what we have and what we must appreciate, and we must introduce our culture to the next generation so that young people know what their country has. Finally, at that time, because I was very passionate/passionate in the world of fashion. Then I also saw the potential that could develop from traditional fabrics; finally, I chose at that time to establish IKAT. And the IKAT Indonesia brand itself is built not to focus on weaving, but IKAT is our 'Binding' always to be inspired by Indonesia when working.

Finally, we make a choice on ikat weaving, which indeed at that time not many processes as fashion.

C (6: 18-6: 38)

Okay, it means that the moment was right when a neighboring country claimed our batik, and finally, Mas Didiet also answered it with his work and built this IKAT brand from 'zero' at all. I've even heard that building the IKAT brand started from a garage house. That's how the story Mas?

DM (6: 39-7: 18)

Yes, so we started from the garage because there was not enough capital to rent an office at that time. Finally, we start from the garage, with only three people, including me. I included as a designer, as a material shopper, then one is a pattern-cutter but a tailor too, and the other is an admin. So, starting from three, finally developing from cooperation with one weaver until now, we are working with approximately 200-300 weaving artisans in Indonesia.

C (7: 19-7: 32)

Wow, how long does the process take, Mas? Surely the person who created the brand from the start was not natural, especially environmental pressure and all that. What was the challenge Mas Didiet faced at that time?

DM (7: 33-8: 42)

The challenge faced is how we create demand. So, the initial stage is that we carry out an educational process, in this case, is how we convey the ideas that are in the head to the audience we want to reach, namely young people. Well, at that time, the platform most widely used by young people to communicate in social media was Twitter. So at that time, we used Twitter, then we talked on Facebook as well, and finally, only the last few years we entered Instagram. Because Instagram started 'hot' there, so eventually, we made it like a community, so we built the ecosystem so that IKAT is not only cool to look at, but they also have a desire to use it. And finally, at that time, we used the network we had, namely with artists, with influencers for them to wear the clothes we made to give a visual inspiration to young children.

C (8: 44-9: 02)

It means that IKAT has raised its traditional Indonesian cloth, batik cloth, and all kinds of fabric, and finally from IKAT itself, cooperated with local craftsmen, Mas, why choose there? Or is there a specific mission to promote IKAT itself, or what kind?

DM (9: 03-9: 18)

So when I created the IKAT Indonesia brand, this is a brand that has a vision that is, one is an economic vision. Of course, to make something economically sustainable must be supported. Well, then the second thing is I want to also lift the people behind the screen who have been working on the traditional fabrics. The point is how we can expose and be able to invite them to move forward with these craftsmen. And at that time, we finally decided to collaborate with the craftsmen whom we felt had the same vision as us. We wanted to make a change because, at that time, we challenged them to create new motifs, with new colors, and by using materials that were more comfortable to use as everyday clothing. And it is not easy because the community of the craftsmen is also relatively young. So to accept new thoughts, there must be a strategy. Now that's where we come up with strategies to be able to.

C (9: 19-10: 25)

So what do you think the creative process is like? So did you have the insight to design, and finally, the local craftsmen did, or what was the process like?

DM (10: 26-11: 46)

Usually, we make ideas first. Now I have a team, which is a design team and a research team that is about the trend. What do we want to accommodate? But it can

At first sight, as well, the idea could also be when I was visiting the craftsmen, then we brainstormed ideas, something like, "wow it's fun if I make this motif smaller scale, then we change it a little with that color." Usually, we chat from ideas then conveyed to the craftsmen, then there between the collaborating craftsmen and me finally produce a new motive that can be relevant to the times.

Well, this term is like disrupting the existing market, because we come with a new thought, with a new strategy which is not only selling products but also popularizing or promoting the craftsmen there as well. So besides, there are new products, but we are also trying to make this craftsman's work sustainable.

C (11: 47-12: 06)

Okay. So from the collaboration of the craftsmen and Mas Didiet Maulana, and his team finally produced many works from IKAT itself. But on the other hand, there are no external threats, or there may be those who imitate Mas Didiet's design from IKAT, how do you respond?

DM (12: 07-13: 01)

Now when it comes to copying, actually starting from the beginning, we launched our idea, which was copied by many big fashion brands, and at that time, we were shocked. But the term is that in the world of fashion, it's not cool yet. So you have to copy it first. And at that time, I was annoyed at the beginning, but it was here that we were happy because, indeed, from the start, we wanted to inspire people. With more and more now fashion designers who focus on processing traditional Indonesian fabrics meant that there was also more demand for these fabrics so that the work of artisans this is becoming more and more legitimate for young people eventually going into the craftsman.

C (13: 02-13: 25)

So from the outside threats, many of them followed Mas, but Didiet and the team kept going and doing good works. Finally, how to promote practices? Maybe from the community to community, or perhaps from social media itself, and the process from the beginning of the year until now.

DM (13: 26-15: 15)

We did indeed invest a lot from the marketing world, because indeed, the background at that time I was in the marketing world for fashion, so when we create this brand, we invest a lot in the marketing department. Just like in 2011, we created a Campaign Image. And the term Campaign Image at that time was still rarely used by brands in Indonesia. At that time, we finally made a Campaign Image that we used as advertisements. So that was the image campaign for the printed magazine at that time. We invest a lot of up to hundreds of millions to put ads in one year in several media. Media that we think can reflect our audience. So there we introduce what IKAT Indonesia is through a visual display. And as time went on, it turned out that we eventually changed our investment in printed media to do one activity online. Because of that time-shifted from printed media to online. And when switching to online, our sales platform must also be relevant. In the past, we sold it offline, but starting in the past three years, we are active online too. And when we go online, the strategy is different, and the products will also be disrupted.

C (15: 16-15: 39)

Okay. After success in print, finally, online media also meant a lot of incoming demands, so eventually, the products of IKAT had already used by the audience. But before that and after it turned out that Mas Didiet was issuing Svarna, why is that?

DM (15: 40-16: 41)

In 2012, Svarna, which is a premium brand from IKAT Indonesia, was released because we saw that not all of the audiences wanted to use ' ready to wear.' If it's 'ready to wear,' the fall is ready to wear. Some people want to be designed explicitly for xxx, then for marriage. The point is that at that time, I saw an opportunity; this opportunity was unfortunately not captured because the industry was rising at that time. At that time, there was a wedding industry going up, and now everything turns out to be the right time for us to play there. Finally, we make Svarna, we strengthen it where the Svarna client database is more mature, but there is also a bride-to-be, which is an exciting industry to develop.

C (16: 42-16: 58)

It's been running and developing from 2011 until now. Earlier I asked how it was initially to build IKAT, but now IKAT has been established, and now people are no longer aware, but it's more than that, the staging. What do you think the biggest challenge will be for IKAT?

DM (16: 59-17: 58)

The biggest challenge is how we can adjust to the times because this era is changing; in the sense of the word, yesterday is not necessarily tomorrow is still hotly discussed. So if in the past may be the trend is rather slow. This trend is not just a fashion trend, a trend in promoting something. Maybe in the past, it was effective by collaborating with A, B, C; perhaps in the next year, the strategy would have to be different again. So the challenge is how this brand can remain relevant to the times, can still get new audiences. And how he can adapt to the times so that his brand continues relevant to an increasingly young and fresh market.

C (17: 59-18: 00)

Does that mean that expansion will continue in the future, Mas?

DM (18:01)

Right

C (18: 02-18: 12)

How do you travel from IKAT, or what moments can be considered successful by Mas Didiet?

DM (18: 19-19: 55)

Success at that time was in terms of all kinds. So, at that time, we designed for the APEC Ministers of finance meeting in Bali. At that time, the higher-ups were wearing our clothes, then we had also designed for the IMF meeting at that time and were also used by representatives of the world bank, from the ministry of finance of various countries. Then we also collaborated with Starbucks at that time, and that was a great response. We introduce Indonesia through a platform that is not fashion, so it's exciting. And then, we also collaborated with Disney, and we worked with Mickey Mouse at that time for the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse. We make special collections for him. What's also interesting is that we made uniforms, so this uniform is a brand that we released in 2013. The most exciting thing is we can work with big corporations in Indonesia, including IDN, as well; we design uniforms as well. And the last one is also one of the airlines, Garuda Indonesia, and we also created it for the clothes. And interestingly, at that time, in 2016, we collaborated with TUMI, one of the American brands, and became one of the merchandise at the Grammy Awards in 2016.

C (19: 56-20: 10)

With these achievements, Mas, I have also heard that I have the opportunity at New York Fashion Week, Mattel, and also how did Starbucks works with their caliber brands?

DM (20: 11-21: 02)

If for Mattel at that time for Barbie, we made a performance at that time designing Barbie fashion with ikat cloth. It's fascinating, we introduce culture from an early age.

And if for Starbucks, they invite us to make an exclusive collection. At first, I only wanted to make a tumblr, but then the production assortment became a doll, then there was a tote bag too, there was a clutch also, things became interesting.

C (21: 03-21: 20)

Then, Mas, back again, with IKAT's journey up to now, right, to what extent does innovation play an essential role in the making or creative process of IKAT itself? Surely everyday needs innovation, so it's not monotonous and continues to grow for this brand, how?

DM (21: 21-22: 42)

First is how we convey the mission that we have. So that we are not shackled, and have to work together in one place. Our challenge is how we can work while mobile. Because I'm mostly everywhere, but the team must be able to accommodate what I have in mind. Now usually the strategy is we brainstorm ideas from the start, put everything on the table, we put all the senses. So from there, it is possible to derive one concept in one season. Then from there, our team can create a design with a pattern designer. He also issues a plan after that we combine the idea. Still, at the same time, we send the parallel pattern directly to the craftsmen to make the textiles so that after the silhouette sampling process is complete, after that, we can immediately try with the ready-made cloth. Until finally, he will go into session production and then immediately ready for sale.

C (22: 43-23: 00)

It is exciting, too, yes, the process from beginning to end. Then this 2019 will end, next year will there be new surprises from IKAT itself and will there be an expansion to other design styles besides the current one?

DM (23: 01-23: 46)

If for 2020 we have several projects for uniforms that we are indeed trying to work with, and are very interesting because not only in fields where we will explore the health sector as well, and then for me, in 2020, we will launch a book, so this is a book about the results of research for approximately six years. Finally, a book was made that would later discuss one of the national attire in Indonesia.

C (23:47 - 23:53)

Can you leak a little? His book is about Mas Didiet's trip and IKAT trip too, or what kind of Mas?

DM (23: 54-24: 43)

The book, when discussing my trip seems to be too early, and I feel it's still not time. And I am a real book reader, so when I make a book, the contents want the valuations to be obtained by the readers of the book. Now, this is a book that discusses Kebaya. The title is the story of Kebaya. So this will discuss exciting things about Kebaya in Indonesia, then the Kebaya that I make, and who are the inspirators while I work. That all would be refilled later.

C (24: 44-25: 04)

Okay. If our listeners want to know about IKAT, what do you think about Didiet being supported by anyone? And, what their job-desc is so that IKAT can be at its current point?

DM (25: 05-25: 46)

In that team, there is a business partner that handles business and development. Then we have a marketing department, and we have a team designer, we have a research team that not only researches about fashion but also about what is busy talking about, who is busy also discussed so that we can remain relevant there. Then we have a sampling team is a team that makes samples. Then there was a team that accurately handled our business unit, there was Svarna, there was Sarupa, and specifically for uniforms. And there is also a production team that supports us in making these clothes.

C (25: 47-26: 02)

Okay. For the last time, Mas, it's a bit cliché, but maybe the listeners out there want to hear it too: Do ​​you think that Didiet's hopes for IKAT and its generals are more about Indonesian fashion in the future?

DM (26: 03-26: 26)

The hope is that IKAT Indonesia can always be an inspiration to popularize traditional fabrics. Hopefully, we can host our own country, and we can become stars in the international world, and continue to be an attractive platform to be able to introduce culture to the outside world.

C (26: 27-26: 31)

Okay, Mas, for our listeners who want to know or get to know IKAT more deeply, how?

DM (26: 32-26: 50)

They can see via Instagram @IKAT_Ind, and they can also see my trip on Instagram @diidietmaulana, can access our products at www.theikatindonesia.com.

C (26: 51-27: 11)

Okay, Mas Didiet, thank you for your time, continue to be successful for IKAT and hope that you can work even more for Indonesia and internationally.

Okay, listeners, thank you all at indonesiaUSA70th podcast with me, Kiki, from IDN Media. See you next time, and thank you, Mas Didiet.