Fashion from East Kalimantan


World Eco Fiber Textile (WEFT) fashion show held last November in Kuching.

Fanti Wahyu Nurvita is the owner of ‘Hesandra Indonesia’, which she had founded in 2008 with the aim of lifting East Kalimantan onto the world stage through culture-based fashion. Despite its expansion since, the brand’s main outlet remains true to its roots by being located in Samarinda, Fanti’s hometown.

Sophisticated traditional craftsmanship

This happens to be the first time that I am featuring a fashion designer from East Kalimantan, a neighbour from across the border on our island of Borneo. This province of Indonesia with an estimated population of 3.6 million according to the 2019 census, will be home to the new capital of Southeast Asia’s largest country.

Surrounded by rainforests and vast natural resources, the locals are known for their ethnic cultures and crafts. With sophisticated craftsmanship there is a wide range of not just handicrafts but also textiles and fashion. One for example is the use of natural materials and natural dyes for intricate tie-dyed loom weaving known as ‘Ikat’.  This form of traditional textile is applied to traditional costumes, family heirlooms, decorations and even incorporated into contemporary fashion in pursuit of making it more wearable today. 

What is so special about this lady designer from Samarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan?

It was in the World Eco Fiber Textile (WEFT) fashion show held last November in Kuching that I met Fanti Wahyu Nurvita. As the fashion show choreographer, I was overseeing the fittings for her collection with our Sarawakian models. We noted that her bright looking fashion bears motifs such as the hornbill, tree of life and other patterns sewn onto casual and sporty wear.

Fanti Wahyu Nurvita from Samarinda, East Kalimantan with Sarawakian models wearing her KRIOOKNG collection for the WEFT show in November 2019.

On the rack, the jackets, tops and skirts might seem cultural but once worn by the models it was a different story. It was there that we could understand the range of possibilities in sporting a traditional textile in a modern manner. Her jackets and tops come across as chic with motifs and embroideries highlighting indigenous traditions, and could be easily paired with jeans, pants or a simple skirt.

“All of my products are my own designs. In the meantime, I don’t have a design team but only 2 drawers that help me to realise my motif designs on the fabric”, explained Fanti.

For her collection at the WEFT 2019 fashion show organised by the Society Atelier Sarawak, she had brought along pieces from her new brand, ‘KRIOOKNG’, which has no hints of Ikat or batik. A surprise given that many would expect an Indonesian designer to showcase its famous batik.

“My main designs still carry the motifs of Borneo that have been modernised. Some are classical while others are new creations based on Borneo culture. The KRIOOKNG collection for the WEFT 2019 show was designed specifically to be more acceptable to the international audience.  But there is still a touch of my signature colourful Bornean motifs, using the technique of complex and smooth embroidery”, she added.

With its uniqueness, smooth quality of manufacture and hint of the traditional without being overtly so; Fanti’s designs are easily received outside Kalimantan and even overseas.

Closer to home, Fanti’s clients include officials and socialites who choose to wear her premium designs overseas to represent their culture and her casual pieces when just going out. 

Her work has also been featured on platforms such as the Hong Kong Fashion Week, which delighted audiences and sparked interest in KRIOOKNG. In 2020 her brand will be showcasing in Tokyo Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and also in Indonesia Fashion Week.

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