Adrian Riyadi: Transforming Batik Into Lifestyle

“Our vision is to educate the younger generation in Indonesia that batik and other traditional textiles can also be fashionable and suited for them,” said Adrian Riyadi, director of business development for Lennor when interviewed at Lennor Store located at Plaza Indonesia, Central Jakarta.

At 25, Adrian is still quite young. When he was met he was wearing a black batik shirt by Lennor with a bold design which made him look fashionable.

In Adrian’s opinion batik is the pride of Indonesians. However, like many other young people, he admitted that initially he was not too fond of batik because the dominate brown color was not attractive for certain occasions. “Previously I seldom wore batik for my daily activities as the brown color tends to be boring,” he said.

Indeed everyone here is familiar with batik. This exotic and unique traditional material was listed by UNESCO on Oct. 2, 2009 as one of the world’s cultural heritage originating from Indonesia. Since then it has become the pride of the nation and many people here expect that Oct. 2 will be declared National Batik Day.

Unfortunately although batik has a respectful place in the world it is largely scorned by the younger generation in Indonesia. Batik is associated with older people and is seen as a stuffy, formal attire for formal occasions, such as weddings, traditional and national ceremonies and so forth. This is the reason why Adrian together with his two colleagues at Lennor view the situation as a challenge and an opportunity by attempting to introduce more contemporary batik to the younger generation.

To attract them Lennor produces batik with uniquely fashionable designs and daring colors to symbolize freedom and sizes that fit them rather than the normally large or oversized ones. With this approach Adrian hopes that the new batik style will not only be worn during formal occasions but also for daily activities, like going to the office or parties. “The batik material we purchase from the manufacturers in Pekalongan and Solo in Central Java and other areas have designs that are quite different. They are uniquely simple, more cheerful and playful to suit the taste of the younger generation as well as to introduce them worldwide,” he explained.

Lennor itself is a second business line belonging to garment designer Lenny Agustin. Lenny, one of the country’s progressive young designers, prefers to use traditional textiles such as batik, lurik (local woven material with stripes) and so forth for his creations. Most of his customers order wedding and cocktail dresses from her.

Lenny’s dream to develop batik further was realized when a friend, Ananda, introduced him to Adrian. Soon the three became partners and decided to introduce Lennor’s products to the younger generation for daily wear and eliminate the image that batik is only suitable for older people.

For Adrian the world of fashion is something new, because previously he managed a shoe manufacturing company, Pierro. However he views his partnership with Lenny and Ananda as a good opportunity to advance fashion in Indonesia and to be patriotic at the same time “It is certainly about nationalism. That’s why Lennor only uses local materials from all over the country,” said Adrian, who is a graduate of Academy of Art University, San Francisco, United States.

What else makes Adrian interested in the fashion business? “Because fashion in Indonesia has huge potential and it is also full of challenges. The plus points are our rich natural resources, materials, art, workmanship, crafts and so on. The market for fashion items is also quite tricky and complicated with countless competitors and wide demographics,” he commented.

So the question is how does Adrian defend Lennor from the numerous competitors, both domestic and foreign? “The past year has been a rollercoaster ride. Most importantly we have to be precise in mapping out the marketing of our products to the right target market. We have to know what we sell and who we are selling to. We have to focus on what we are good at and do it one at a time.

“Efficiency in production and sourcing is also an important factor. Always be realistic, there is no more time for trial and error. Last but not least, a huge amount of effort must be invested in branding and advertising,” he explained.

As a brand that focuses on the 25-35 age segment Lennor Batik’s price tags range from Rp 200,000 (US$22.4) to Rp 400,000, which is not considered too costly as the high quality materials are mostly hand made and they are manufactured in limited quantities.

So what is the secret that makes Lennor’s products popular with the younger generation? “Lennor constantly looks for new materials and unique designs from many parts of Indonesia. Annually we produce four major themes and there are sub-themes according to certain religious occasions or celebrations. This way there is always something new and up to date from Lennor to prevent boredom,” explained Adrian.

Today Lennor has three stores in Jakarta and next year, in 2011, Adrian plans to open five stores outside Jakarta. Is Lennor already satisfied with its current success in popularizing batik for the younger generation? “Well, not yet. The most valued recognition will be when our products are warmly welcomed by the entire market. For now we will keep coming up with new fashion designs and inspirations that will popularize batik and other Indonesian art forms to the younger generation. So, one cannot say that we have achieved complete success as it is still a long journey ahead. I will tell you later after five or 10 years!” he concluded. (Patra Matondang)

The Jakarta Post, October 02, 2010

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