Yuddy Cahya, Bandung – Indonesia's first Islamic fashion school is teaching students in the world's largest Muslim-majority country the usual skills of design, styling and marketing – but with a religion-specific twist.
As demand grows for Islamic apparel, featuring variations on traditional headscarves and long, flowing dresses for women, while men are targeted with robes or shirts embroidered with religious motifs, about 140 students have signed up.
"We want our students to make unique designs and become leaders in modest fashion," said Deden Siswanto, who founded the Islamic Fashion Institute nearly three years ago in Indonesia's third largest city of Bandung. "We also teach them about wearing clothes according to Islamic rules."
Nearby sat a group of young women working at sketchboards and sewing stations in the school, which offers nine-month courses in fashion styling, marketing, and basic styling.
Both men and women, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, may join. But teachers must be Muslim, to ensure familiarity with Islamic business practices.
The trend towards garments that meet religious requirements is becoming more visible among the burgeoning middle class in Indonesia, where, for years, few Muslim women covered their heads, or opted for traditional batik or Western clothing.
The Indonesian websites of leading online retailers such as Lazada.com and Zalora.com now have pages dedicated to Islamic fashion. The country hosted its first Muslim Fashion Week in 2015 and the industry ministry aims to make Indonesia a "Muslim fashion hub" by 2020.
One of the students at the school, Runi Soemadipradja, said she started wearing a headscarf in 2007 but found few options suitable for Muslims.
"I started designing my own clothes," she said. "We are overwhelmed by this (demand). So far I have released 10 collections." (Writing by Jessica Damiana; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Clarence Fernandez)