Jakartans like designer brands. Their fondness for branded clothing is not limited to women but also includes men and now, more than ever, kids. It seems that even children are starting to feel the need to own designer brand items, whether in the form of toys, shoes or clothes.
When you find yourself in a crowd of Jakartans, it is always good to sport one or two designer items, even better if they are adorned with a very famous monogram. Some may ask where you bought your stuff and how much it cost. If you are honest, modest or trying to be helpful by replying, “Oh, I got it at a garage sale, it was very cheap!” — don’t. Not all of us will be comfortable hearing that. Some of us might even go so far as to imply that the stuff you own must be fake after hearing you say that.
To get our attention and approval, it is imperative that you go put on your best “Gossip Girl” attitude and insist that you bought your designer branded items at wholesale price. Throwing in stuff like “I just couldn’t be bothered to go to an outlet store,” or “I really needed the purse/watch/shoes/dress for an event that week so I simply could not wait until sales,” is always a good idea for building your cool cred.
But if you really want to gain our respect you could casually throw in a phrase like “Oh, I got it at a vintage store in Paris/Milan/London two summers ago. I was told it once belonged to a dear friend of Carla Bruni’s.” This way, although you are divulging information about how your stuff was not bought at wholesale price, you will appear more sophisticated, more traveled and, most importantly, “in the know.”
If you want to be accepted into a Jakartan clique and be well liked, you will have to be able to do all the above while at the same time maintaining a hint of humility — by complimenting our designer branded stuff, for example. We like people who make us feel good about ourselves and we like to be admired constantly.
One Jakartan faux pas is to be seen with a counterfeit designer item. If you cannot afford to buy the real thing, never go for fake. It is better to go down a class or two and wear DKNY, Guess, Liz Claiborne or Kenneth Cole.
Although we will not make a fuss about you at all, you will still be able to sit with us and listen in to our conversations while feeling considerably inferior. But what is feeling inferior when you can sit with us and be seen by your friends who can’t even afford a knock-off DKNY purse, right? Especially when you can post the pictures on Facebook the next day. Now that kind of publicity is priceless.
While we go crazy for famous high-end brands such as Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton, those of us who are smart — that is, not nouveau riche or nouveau riche-wannabes, but old money — we make sure not to wear the “obvious” branded stuff or the brands for “commoners.” We go old-school — and obviously very expensive. Some of the brands that best represent this are Hermes, Chanel, Cartier and Valentino.
More “cultured” and “traveled” Jakartans are especially proud to sport obscure and exclusive designer brands, ones that are not too widely known or easy to come across in Indonesia — Nicole Farhi, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Badgley Mischka, to name a few.
Some Jakartans take pride in their ability to know designer names by heart, even the most obscure ones. If you want to get in their good books, be sure to be in awe of that person’s ability to recite and perfectly pronounce difficult foreign designer names. They will immediately take a liking to you.
But better yet, show your admiration and at the same time show them you are also up-to-date with designer news by saying things like, “Yes, I absolutely love Ann Demeulemeester’s Fall line-up; I think her designs are underrated,” or “I am happy you know Dries Van Noten’s work, I haven’t met many Jakartans who do!”
Throwing in designer gossip, news and tidbits will get you the ultimate recognition nod. Of course, you must never attempt to seem better than us. Remember: showing a certain level of humility will still be the best way to get into our clique.