During the pandemic, several creative businesses, including those in the fashion sector, in West Java have had to take measures to adapt and survive its unprecedented impact on their businesses.
When it comes to cultural arts and crafts, Indonesia is a country that showcases its heritage with pride. One of the ways through which this is reflected is the “Gerakan Nasional Bangga Buatan Indonesia” or the Proudly Made in Indonesia National Movement (Gernas BBI). The peak event for the program was held in April this year in West Java’s capital city of Bandung.
At the program, Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Teten Masduki, said he believed the movement has served as a platform to showcase Indonesian products that hold the same, if not higher, quality as products made overseas.
Aside from promoting Indonesian products, the movement also aims to assist SMEs to survive the pandemic's impact on their businesses.
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“I hope that through this event, there will be a new trend emerging among consumers, for them to love local costume products that are created with high quality and here at home,” he remarked.
When asked about local products he liked, Masduki cited footwear brands Brodo and Fortuna that have originated in Bandung, among other local businesses.
“The brand Fortuna has even penetrated the high0end market in Tokyo (Japan), but unfortunately, we do not have them in our own malls. Even Giorgio Armani has produced their shoes with them before,” the minister revealed.
The desire to preserve and empower local businesses has not only been shown by the government, but by the people as well, including local fashion brand Nona Rara Batik that seeks to bridge business activities between Batik makers in various regions and Batik consumers.
“We established Nona Rara Batik 9 years ago in November 2011, with a mission to elevate Batik apparel production,” said the founder of the company, Pipiet Tri Noorastuti.
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The handmade Batik apparels featured in her business include those from Garut, West Java, in a vibrant selection of color schemes, she informed.
“We want local craftsmen and women to continue to grow and create their pieces, at the same time preserving the cultural heritage. That way, we empower each other to grow without threatening the business practices of smaller craftsmen in smaller areas, and at the same time, supporting the economy,” she remarked.
Survival amid pandemic
In their endeavor to uplift local products and increase their reach and competitiveness in the international market, domestic businesses are facing challenges that have emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fashion business makers in the region’s capital city of Bandung, for example, have recalculated their strategy during the pandemic in order to ensure that their operations can survive.
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Gilang Permana Kencana, owner of fashion brand Motzint Original, reiterated the sector’s struggles amid the pandemic at an online seminar, saying companies are striving to retain their employees, and therefore, their livelihoods.
“Surely, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted business makers in the fashion industry to adapt and rethink our strategy in order to maintain business performance,” he said.
Although his business has been operating since 2014, it still took a hard hit from the pandemic, he said adding that he had to shutter his offline store and halt sales outside of the city .
He said that in order to maintain his business, he has had to shift his sales online via e-commerce platforms and marketplaces. Such shifts have helped him ensure none of his staff was laid off, he added.
From government initiatives to people-to-people support schemes and strategy rerouting amid the pandemic, several parties are working to sustain arts and crafts business, and at the same time, preserve Indonesian heritage, especially in the region of West Java.
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