Fashion Film “Stories of Hope” Displays Unique Collaboration Between Indonesian Batik and South African Shweshwe

20 July 2022

The Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria launched a fashion film titled "Stories of Hope: Bolstering Indonesia-South Africa Relationships Through Fashion" on its YouTube channel: KBRI Pretoria. The film features clothes designed and produced collaboratively by Indonesian and South African fashion designers.

There are at least four collaborative elements in the film. First, there are six fashion designers participating in this project, consisting of three designers from Indonesia (Irmasari Joedawinata, Raegita Oktora, Weda Githa) and three designers from South Africa (Bianca Malan, Nabeela Francis, Lisakhanya Matya). They had worked collaboratively virtually since November 2021.

Second, a collaboration of ethnic fabrics. The film presents the fantastic works of the designers who combine Indonesian batik fabric and South African shweshwe fabric.

Third, a collaboration of shooting locations that feature the stunning landscapes of the two countries, namely Melasti Beach in Bali, Indonesia, and Scarborough Beach in Cape Town, South Africa.

Finally, the collaboration between various parties from Indonesia and South Africa in the production of this film. In producing this film, the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria worked together with the Indonesian Fashion Chamber (IFC), the TFG, and the Imprint Luxury, and is supported by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and the Indonesia Trade Promotion Center (ITPC) in Johannesburg.

Collaboration is the keyword in the making of this film, as the vision of Mr. Salman Al Farisi, former Indonesian Ambassador to South Africa, as the initiator of this activity. "The more collaborative an activity is, the better the diplomatic efforts that are carried out," said Ambassador Salman, who now serves as Secretary-General of the IORA based in Mauritius.

This collaborative activity is intended not only to strengthen the interaction between the people of the two countries but also to promote their cultural richness and creative economy as well as to convey a message that although both countries have experienced colonialism and slavery in the past, now both countries can rise to become the most influential and respected countries in their respective region. All of this happened thanks to the stories of hope that the people of the two countries encountered in overcoming every challenge that came their way.

The participating designers from both countries admitted that they were challenged when they joined this project but felt delighted and proud when they succeeded in completing their work. Nabeela Francis said that they embraced their cultural diversity and challenged themselves in this collaboration. Bianca Malan revealed that although fashion designers came from two different countries, they can still work harmoniously and share the same design aesthetics. Meanwhile, Lisakhanya Matya highlights the benefits of this collaborative activity. “This collaboration is really good for the retail value chain and the bilateral relationship between the two countries," she explained.

In line with their colleagues from South Africa, Indonesian designers also admitted that they were proud and impressed with this collaborative activity. Raegita Oktora admitted that she was honored to be trusted to be a part of this collaboration. " In carrying out this program, I got a lot of experience, knowledge, and positive impressions," she said. Irmasari Joedawinata considered this activity as the most meaningful and memorable experience throughout her fashion design career. Meanwhile, Weda Githa sees the meaning of this activity from a cultural point of view. "This activity is very positive in the effort of preserving culture, especially the traditional fabrics of the two countries, through contemporary fashion works," he said.

This film is one of the means to reconnect the cultural and emotional bonds between Indonesian and South African people that have been materialized since a very long time ago. The people from the now-Indonesian archipelago have been coloring the South African society since the 17th century when royals and religious leaders from the archipelago were exiled to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch colonial government. As time went on, their number grew, creating their own identity that today we know as the Cape Malay people. These descendants of Indonesia have become the fabric of South African society and are contributing positively to their country.​

Embassy of Indonesia in Pretoria