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Essay: Exploring Genderless Fashion & Indonesian’s Traditional Clothing in Jakarta.

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“Genderless Clothing and Its Relevance to Indonesian’s Traditional Clothing”;





Chapter I :

The History of Genderless Clothing and Its Relevance to Indonesian’s Traditional Clothing

Chapter II :

Masculinity Trend on Today’s Womenswear

Chapter III :

How Jakarta Adopts the Trend



Image References



“The practical femininity is often pitted against geometric, scientific asceticism, hence a mannish blazer can become an oversized women’s coat or a cutaway panelled dress.” – Chalayan, 2015.


This research investigates the current trend happens in Jakarta, Indonesia, in which young adults started to wear minimalist and basic fashion items with a hint of menswear’s silhouettes. These type of women started to adopt the style by purchasing oversized tops and pairs up with trouser suit or genderless sneakers.

This kind of trend has been around globally, whereby minimalist womenswear’s items are influenced by menswear’s silhouette but why does citizen in  Jakarta started to follow this trend too? Is it because of functionality? Or because minimalist items tend to lasts longer? This research also has the another objective which includes the exploration and discussion about market’s perception on the gender neutral style and masculinity in minimalist womenswear.


Both primary and secondary research has been executed in order to create a completed and specific study on consumer’s buying pattern towards minimalist womenswear influenced by menswear’s silhouettes.

Primary research includes an online questionnaires regarding the consumer’s perception on the trend stated in Indonesian market. This questionnaire targets young adults who have interest in following current trend and within the age of 20 to 27 years old. These people are the one who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia and all of their responses will remained anonymous. The online survey is held in order to determine their buying pattern in today’s fashion pieces and their reaction on masculine womenswear.

Secondary research includes the analysis of academic texts and online articles covering consumer behaviour in Indonesia as well as the progression of constructive womanhood in today’s womenswear and how it has been affected by masculinity.


It might be unknown to countless individuals, but in fact, genderless clothing history has a long list to reflect gender equality. In 1824, for example, a utopian socialist society in France allow men and women to wear pants. The term utopian socialists was not discovered until Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels invented them. Utopian socialism is generally characterised as the act of visuals and frameworks for imaginary or futuristic ethics, with positive ethics being the dominant analysis for moving association in such an order. It is of course cause a controversy in the era, but they mention that clothing was used for gender equality. At the end of the 19th century, the rights for women to wear trousers was delivered by Amelia Bloomer. She was an American women’s right activist during the period of time who advocated women’s clothing could be less restrictive.

Then in 1960, the genderless style distinguished between adherents of style 'hippies' with middle-class society. For example, in the filming Countercultural Easy Rider played by actor Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. At that time, both the actor's long hair like women are often asked, whether they male or female, but would not asked in affable way. Then when hip-hop became America's national cultural phenomenon in the 1980s, a mixture of men and women break dancer began to be known. They wore tracksuits while performing on stage, to obscure their own gender roles.

Genderless in fashion becomes a huge hit in the react of baby boomers after a quite severe gender stereotypes in the 1950s. It also occurs because of the freedom experienced by the women since post world war II. The women from that period get a lot of freedom in many aspects, especially in terms of the way they dress. They started to get influenced by the menswear, from trouser suit, to mannish turtleneck sweatshirt paired with oversized flannel trouser.

Comparatively, the similar case happened in Indonesia since the 9th century. Indonesia has 34 provinces in total and each province has their own traditional clothing. Those traditional clothes are tend to be identical for both men and women as well as the technique of their clothes’ wrap. Most of the traditional clothes from Indonesia are having relevance in today’s fashion, in which they are oversized and layered clothes. The traditional clothes from Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, Kalimantan and Sumatra in particular.

Baju Bodo is originated from Bugis-Makassar subculture in South Sulawesi and claimed as one of the oldest traditional clothing in the entire history. That assumption is supported by the history of muslin fabric, which is the main material to create Baju Bodo. This type of fabric known as Muslin cloth (Europe), Maisolos (Ancient Greek), Masalia (East India), or Ruhm (Arabic) first came into being in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This refers to the records of a Saudi merchant named Solomon in the 19th century. While in the year 1298, in a book entitled "The Travel of Marco Polo", Marco Polo illustrate that Muslin cloth was made in Mosul (Iraq) and traded by traders called Musolini. But the fabric is woven from strands of cotton woven with cotton yarn this was already known by the folk of South Sulawesi, namely in the middle of the 9th century, long before European society's new know him in the 17th century, and are popular in France in 18th century. Muslin cloth has voids and distances tenuous threads that make it look transparent and suitable for use in tropical and temperate regions of heat.

The name "Bodo" ​​came from a literal meaning of “short”, this is indeed short-sleeved shirt. Baju Bodo formerly worn without a shirt, exposing the innards of breast and contours of the wearer's chest, and combined with a wrapper that covers the waist down the body. But along with the influence of Islam in this region, the clothes had been showing genitalia has undergone a change. Transparent clothing is then paired with a suit of the same color depths, but lighter. While the dress underneath a matching silk sarong. Baju Bodo that specialise for women uses rules based on the colour that symbolises the age and caste of female wearer. Orange for women aged 10 years, orange and blood red for women aged 10 to 14 years, blood red for women aged 17 to 25 years, the white colour used by the host and shaman, the green colour is specifically used the daughter of royalty, and the colour purple is used by widows.

Traditional clothing is often worn for traditional events, such as wedding ceremonies. But now, the use of Baju Bodo began to spread to various activities, such as dance competitions or the welcoming ceremony the guests of honour. Although lately increasingly marginalised due to the influence of modern fashion, but in some of the villages in Bugis that is far from the developments and trends fashion, Baju Bodo is still worn by the bride during the ceremony marriage ceremony and wedding receptions, as well as the mother of the groom, companion bride, and the greeters.

Another particular traditional clothing from in Indonesia is Baju Mandar from West Sulawesi. Pattuqduq Towaine traditional clothes usually worn Mandar women, West Sulawesi during the wedding ceremony or while dancing the Patuqdu traditional dance. The main clothing consists of mire boko clothes (shirt pokkoq) as a superior and a subordinate lipaq saqbe. Boko clothes are all the clothes that is short and oversized sleeved which are generally made from brightly colored fabrics. While lipaq saqbe silk sarong typically mandatory to be wrapped in which created using traditional weaving techniques.

Lipaq saqbe sarong can be made with a variety of motives, including Sureq maraqdia (shades of the king), Sureq pangulu (shades of the prince), Sureq stone dadzima (shades of pomegranate seeds), Sureq puang Limboro (shades pappuangang Limboro), Sureq puang dent, etc.  Aside from being an addition to the aesthetic value, the sarong’s patterns in West Sulawesi custom clothing could have function as a social identity. Furthermore, tombi sare-sare is also wrapped in the waist to cover the hip for both men and women. Tomb sare-sare is rectangular cloth ornament that has red and green colour.

East Nusa Tenggara also has a relevant traditional clothes in genderless fashion. The art of weaving in East Nusa Tenggara is said to have existed at the time before the invention of the cotton fibers, at that time people Rote tribe weaving using fiber materials of a kind of palm trees such as palm and mother-of-pearl. Goods that are produced from woven materials include cloth called Lafe tei, then wear into everyday clothing. After the cotton fibers into the archipelago, the public switched Rote cotton weaving. However, there is still left of Lafe tei until now, the typical hat is Ti'i langga Rote, namely headdress shaped like a Sombrero from Mexico.

Ti'langga the accessories of traditional clothing for men Rote. But at certain moments, for example when Foti traditional dance, women using the cover of this Kapala. Ti'i langga made of dried palm leaves. Due to the nature of palm leaves increasingly dry, then Ti'i langga will change colour from yellowish become more brown. Taper at the longer the cap will not be upright, but tend to be skewed and difficult to be enforced return. It can said to symbolises the original difat Rote people who tend to be hard. Additionally, Ti'i langga also a symbol of confidence and prestige of the wearer.

In addition, for men, custom clothes rote form a long-sleeved shirt plain white. Under any part of the body was covered by a dark-coloured sarong, fabric is wrapped around the waist. The motive of this fabric assortment, can be a beast, existing plants scattered in the area of ​​East Nusa Tenggara. From the apparent motive of the woven fabric can be seen in the area of ​​origin of the manufacture of woven fabrics. As accessories small woven cloth slung over the shoulder. The pattern is compatible with the woven fabric sheath. In addition, a machete also inserted in the front waist.

For women, usually wearing short Kebaya and wearing a woven fabric sarong as the bottom, just like the men wrapped their sarong as the pants. One motif that is often used to decorate traditional clothes are tree motif skull. As a complement, a shawl stick on his shoulder. Bun-styled hair and wearing a crescent-shaped ornament with three stars. The ornament is called Bulan Molik. Bulan Molik means a new moon. This ornament is made usually made of gold, silver, brass, or bronze were forged and rolled flat, then shaped in such a way as to resemble a crescent moon.

Maluku Province is a province that is known to have the oldest history among other provinces in the archipelago. The historical record of the Maluku was found written on clay tablets in Mesopotamia, Iran, and Egypt said that the island is a rich province from the east. Diverse nature wealth from cloves, gold, and pearls is generated from this region.

Maluku traditional clothes known as Baju Cele or fabric Salele is a custom clothing with high aesthetic value and philosophical. Although Maluku has more simplified and functional clothes compared to the other traditional clothes found in Indonesia, Maluku custom clothing is considered to represent the characteristics of the indigenous tribes in the Maluku Islands are typical. Baku Cele is bright red shirt with stripes of gold or silver are geometric. The fabric is thick but still comfortable to use. For women, Baju Cele is generally combined with fabric or woven sarong kebaya with the same color. As for men, Baju Cele most commonly shaped like a jacket and shirt as the innards worn with formal trousers and black or white as subordinates. As for footwear, both men and women normally make black flat shoes as the main option.

Ngaju Dayak tribe is a tribe of the majority population in the province of Central Kalimantan with a total of approximately 46.62% of the total population. Ngaju Dayak tribe is known as the original provincial capital Palangkaraya is, therefore every culture of Dayak Ngaju considered representative of how the people of Central Kalimantan in survival.

Central Kalimantan’s native men dress consist of head hornbill feathers, vests and fabrics that cover the bottom of the knee. A typical wooden decorations shields together with mandau to be wrapped on hand. Jewellery worn in the form of bead necklaces and belts. Women wearing vests and fabrics like short skirt, headgear decorated with hornbill feathers, beads, belts and some bracelets for the accessories.

Bundo Kanduang, among the Minangkabau, also known as “peti ambon puruk", that is, those entrusted with the responsibility to hold the inheritance of his/her people. Thus, a man/woman who has the ability to be bundo Kanduang will has an important role to his/her own people, so that not all men and women can be Bundo Kanduang. Therefore, it was elevated to a Bundo Kanduang to be wise and high in leadership to rule people, so as to become the protector for his/her people. And, as a leader, of course, deserved a different costume from common men/women, since all of his/her clothes and jewellery worn are a symbol of their responsibilities towards their children at the Minangkabau’s traditional house, rumah gadang.

The traditional clothes Bundo Kanduang or Limpapeh Nan Rumah Gadang is unique, especially on the head covering shaped like buffalo horns or the roof of the rumah gadang. Bundo Kanduang itself is a Minangkabau traditional clothes worn by married women. But the men and women also wear this costume during a bridal ceremony.

There is also a relevance to the North Sumatra traditional clothing, Ulos. Initially, Ulos is identical to the amulet, believed to contain the "strength" of a religious nature magical and sacred and has a special power to provide protection. According to some studies use Ulos by the Batak tribe, showing similarities with the Karen nation on the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, especially in headbands, fabric and its Ulos.

From the legend, Ulos regarded as one of the three sources of warmth for humans (besides the Fire and the Sun), but is seen as a source of warmth is the most convenient because it can be used anytime (unlike the sun, and can not burn (like fire). Just like the other tribes, Batak Simalungun has a habit of "Mambere hiou”, in which has a meaning of “giving out ulos", and one of them symbolises giving warmth and affection to the hiou recipient. Hiou can be worn in various forms, as the cloth covering the head, body cover bottom, cover the upper body, cover backs and others. Hiou in various shapes and patterns / motifs have names and different types, for example in female head covering called the suri-suri (means “queens”) Hiou lower body cover for a woman, for example ragipanei, or used as everyday clothing called jabit. Hiou in clothes also symbolises Simalungun that is called tolu sahundulan, consisting of headgear (turban), a breastplate (clothing) and closed-covered bottom, which is called abit.


This trend began from the acquisition of rights in regards of dressing from post World War II. Women started to have the freedom to choose a more practical clothes.

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