Renewing Tradition
    Category: Entrepreneurs By : Renjani Puspo Sari Read : 1441 Date : Friday, January 16, 2015 - 16:30:48

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Veteran designer Sianne Avantie—known as Anne Avantie, 50, has paved her success with the courage to make a creative breakthrough. While most designers prefer to produce modern fashion, Anne instead chose to work with the traditional  kebaya, usually worn by old women, and made it cool and hip.

    Anne’s kebaya are now a status symbol. Her contemporary design has become obligatory party fashion for high society. The most inexpensive price of Anne’s outfit is Rp 15 million for a kebaya, and at least Rp 50 million for a custom kebaya bridal dress. Her success has reignited interest in kebaya, which is now worn by women of all ages, not just older women.

    Anne herself has become a celebrity designer, and is the confidante of the rich and famous, such as singer Titiek Puspa and one of the royal families of Malaysia. She was one of the designers to make outfits for the participants of 2013 Miss World held in Bali. She says she also got a request for a kebaya from Michelle Obama, the wife of President Barack Obama, during their visit to Indonesia in 2010.

    Her success in this couturier business did not happen overnight. She began to sew her own designs in 1989 in Solo with only two sewing machines, calling her business Griya Busana Permatasari. She slowly built her business until she had 50 staff—then came the riots of 1998, and her factory was burned down. Two years before, in 1996, her mother got cancer. “I had lost my business, just as my mother got cancer. At this point, I just gave up,” Anne recalls (her mother later recovered after chemotherapy sessions).

    She then moved to Semarang and built her business again from zero. Anne says that her mother, Amie Indriati, had a big influence on her career—from whom she learned the sewing and beauty business, as her mother ran a salon (her father was in automotive trading). Anne’s talent emerged in childhood when she often helped to design various costumes for dancers of vocal groups in her school.

    Currently, Anne, who has three children, has her main boutique in Jakarta’s Grand Indonesia mall, named Roemah Penganten. She has also set up a second shop to sell clothing made by smaller local designers. To coincide with her 25-year career in the industry, Anne had a gala fashion show in Jakarta last year, involving many top models and artists.