While exploring clothing stores in Indonesia, a range of reactions can arise from seeing the myriad of fabrics, hues and silhouettes that take up the vicinity.
For Indonesian fashion designer, Selly Djap, this frequent activity that she embarked on throughout her childhood sparked inspiration and a dream.
“My dream has always been to start my own fashion brand.”
“I grew up looking at how the fashion industry operates from their lens,” said Djap in reference to her parents who have a small clothing store in Indonesia.
“When I was young, my mom had always taken me shopping with her. And I guess that’s how I started to fall in love with clothing as well.”
To further explore her interest and talent in fashion, Djap began taking lessons in pattern drafting and sewing in the fifth grade at the Bunka School of Fashion in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“I was the youngest student there!” said Djap.
In her Teen Vogue story, Djap acknowledged that the Bunka School of Fashion,“didn’t really tell you you had to be original in what you made, you could just copy things that were already out there. But I was always doing my own original designs on the side.”
Fast forward to 2016, Djap moved to New York City, the fashion capital of America.
New York is a place for dreamers. For creators. For people to explore who they are and the unknown.
“I definitely see a change in myself ever since I moved to New York,” said Djap. “I realized how I have been living in a bubble in Indonesia because I grew up in such a closed community. Also, my ideas of faith, relationship and community have definitely changed as well.”
Not only has New York affected Djap personally, it has also greatly impacted her position in the fashion industry.
Currently a sophomore at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized study, Djap has a concentration in “Entrepreneurship in Fashion Business”.
“Attending NYU has helped me with preparing and running my own label,” said Djap. “It actually started when I participated in the NYU Gallatin fashion show. I fell in love with the experience and I wanted to extend that outside of the school community.”
In September 2017, Djap started her label and launched her S/S18 collection, SEX, during NYFW as part of Plitz Fashion Show.
“My design aesthetic is more about capturing moods and emotions,” Djap revealed.
SEX, significantly reflects Djap’s own life experiences, in which she said, “it is about how a woman begins to embrace her own sexuality after the realization that she has been so repressed her entire life. That change started when she moved to a new culture.”
SEX, “features the transformation from innocence to experience.”
Djap effortlessly conveys this concept within her collection as she intentionally has 10 looks in a particular order to show this progression, “they go from being more youthful and innocent in the beginning to more mature and intimates-inspired at the end. I designed the collection in order, so each look is reflective of what I was actually discovering and experimenting with at the time.”
Countless looks also incorporate hand-embroidered and hand-sewn lace flowers which she says are supposed to represent, “the blossoming of woman throughout her sexual journey.”
With pink, (specifically, a light blush pink), as the main color for her collection, the fashion designer said that she chose this hue because it symbolizes femininity as well as a core value of Djaps and her label, Grace.
The 19-year-old acknowledged that Grace became a core value in her own life and label through a series and compilation of events,
“Growing up, I was raised in a Buddhist family. And the concept/belief of karma really stuck out to me. It is the belief that if you do something bad, something bad will happen to you. But if you do something good, then something good will happen to you. At the end of the day, it really is just about me, myself and I. The sad thing is that I know that I’m a really “fucked up” person. Starting from my childhood and struggling through my relationships with my family, then moving on to friends and a significant other, I realized that there really is no way that I can rely on myself. I made so many mistakes in my life and I honestly feel broken inside. I realized that there is no way I can save or redeem myself. I need help. And so, really the opposite or antithesis of karma is Grace, in which it doesn’t matter what you do, you are loved for who you are. You’re accepted to be a part of God’s family as you are. For me personally that is the good news. That is why I really want to share the story and message of Grace to other people out there as well.
Through that realization, Grace really becomes the foundation of the brand. I really try my best to anchor my entire brand on the value of Grace, more specifically on the what it means from a Christian context. It’s never about the specific designs, the color of the fabric, or how the fabric flows. It’s always been about the story of Grace.”
Grace, Love and Faith.
These are three powerful terms that Djap uses to describe her label and radiate from her collection.
While Djap had an initial interest in Avant-garde, her style evolved over the course of designing, “I learn that what makes clothing or fashion so unique as a medium is the fact that it is so intimate with the wearer, unlike a painting that you hang on a wall and the audience look at it from a distance. From there, I begin to shift my style towards evening wear. The way I see it evening wear combines a mixture of Avant-garde while still being wearable.”
Djap’s brand is inclusive for all women, as she passionately declared, “I want to empower the women who wears them and inspire even those who don’t wear them.”
With “Embrace the Beauty of Your Own Sexuality” as the tagline for her collection SEX, Djap strongly believes that the fashion industry plays a major role in shaping our perception of sexuality.
“There are countless fashion advertisements that take advantage of the women body as a selling point. One brand that comes to mind would be Victoria Secret. Thus, I think that it is very appropriate for fashion to be the medium to speak against this issue,” said Djap.
“The sad reality is that a lot of women out there don’t even feel comfortable with their own sexuality based on how they dress. It is because the fashion industry portrays and dictates them to feel a certain way about their own sexuality. Through my clothing, I aim to make women feel both comfortable and beautiful in their own bodies.”
In addition to using her brand as a way to make women feel their most confident, Djap strives to have her brand spark conversations that will lead to a positive change in the world, in which she said, “I honestly think that the power to make change is out of my brand’s control because it has to be a collective effort.”
“My brand strives to speak to women from a sisterly tone than from an authoritative perspective:
“Hey, I’m with you in your journey”.”
Carlie: Why did you choose Brookfield Place as the location for this photoshoot? Why do you find it important for your label to be photographed (and based) in a NYC setting?
Selly: It is an NYC brand. There is a certain level of importance and influence that the origin of the brand has on the brand’s identity. Also, the planning behind the location of the shoot is that Brookfield Place has a certain luxurious vibe with its setting. From its marble flooring and huge glass windows. It expresses the vibe that is appropriate with our evening wear brand.
C: Is their another designer, person or artist that inspires you and influences your work?
S: Jesus! Just kidding! Not really. A lot of the stories behind my work is inspired by my journey of faith. In general, I’m most inspired by all the people that I came across with in my life. But, I think 1 person that really made an impact in my life would be my pastor, Billy Kim. He is someone who’s really there for me and walked with me throughout my journey. Even though I haven’t known him for that long, he really did made an impact in my life. I really look up to him like a father. For designers, I really admire Alexander McQueen and Valentino.
C: Is there a celebrity that you look up to?
S: Recently, I have been looking up to Selena Gomez. I really admire how she uses her passion to spread the word about faith as well. I really resonate with how she promotes “By Grace Through Faith” that is even listed on her Instagram’s bio.
C: You have already achieved so much at such a young age, what else do you hope to accomplish? What is a goal of yours for your label, Selly Djap LLC?
S: Though working with publications and media outlets, I hope to establish a community around my brand and spread the meaning of Grace. I also hope to have my first independent fashion show for SS19 and eventually sustain a living through my label.
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