“I always wonder who decided that there should be a difference in the clothes of men and women. Perhaps men decided this,” a fashion legend, Yohji Yamamoto, said to the New York Times three decades ago. He brought an enormous effect on the world fashion even though at that moment, his generation back home in Japan was not ready for him yet.
Yohji’s aspiration and consistency have inspired Myra Juliarti, a Bali based fashion designer, to perennially challenge the “common norms” in the industry. Myra’s fervent desire to fashion and partiality for gender equality paved her way for establishing her brand named “Siji” gender-fluid causal wear. This concept is an antidote to the stereotype of what men and women should and should not wear. It blurred and blended the line that separated them.
Various media predict that gender-fluid is the future of fashion. It is both good and bad news for Myra. Non-binary fashion indeed promotes inclusivity that can and should be a movement. However, if people treat it as merely a trend that can easily be changed by another new trend and style, Myra surely is not happy about it.
Although gender-fluid fashion is growing in popularity in some parts of the world, it may take a long journey for the concept to be socially and culturally acceptable in Indonesia. Nonetheless, Myra keeps believing in Siji because it is in line with her trust in freedom of expression for all genders.
During the conversation with ThePhala, Myra also elucidates her concern towards clothes size. People often feel unsatisfied with themselves because subconsciously, they want to conform their bodies to the sizes determined by the fashion industry. It makes them obsessed with their body size too! Hence, Siji creates loose-fitting clothes that are wearable by all sizes. “The clothing will naturally follow our body shape. It will accentuate one’s character because every individual is unique,” Myra said.
Even when choosing the models for presenting Siji, Myra does not use standards that are applied by many glamorous fashion brands. She always makes sure that she knows her models’ personalities and befriends them. “It’s not about wearing clothes only, but personality and values they hold are matters to me.”
Siji was first established in Jakarta, 2011, and continue to develop with a new concept since 2014 in Bali. The new Siji was then launched at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. At that moment, Siji still used mass-produced cotton fabrics. By the time, Myra realizes that the garment factories’ ethics are essential for her too. She concerns about how they process the materials, do they pollute the environment, how they get the cotton in the first place, do they pay farmers fair prices, and do they force child labor or not. But she does not have the privilege to investigate it all. As a solution, one of the things she do is using unbleached cotton (belacu) that requires the least process among other fabrics. “Siji no longer created printed clothes, now I paint the clothes myself,” Myra said. She further explained that unbleached cotton is more durable than the regular one.
Beside developing Siji, Myra regularly held an upcycling workshop in Ubud. She believes that sustainable fashion is not enough; another real problem is our overconsumption that caused waste. In this program, Myra invites us to “learn how to turn our old t-shirt into a stylish tote bag with basic hand-serving tricks.”
Siji’s collections available at @pasarpasaran
Stay in touch with Siji:
Whatsapp: +62 811 160 970