In eastern Indonesia, both the production and use of traditional textiles have been transformed as the production, use and value associated with textiles have changed due to modernization. In the past, women produced the textiles either for home consumption or to trade with others. Today, this has changed as most textiles are not being produced at home. Western goods are considered modern and are valued more than traditional goods, including the sarong, which retain a lingering association with colonialism. Now, sarongs are used only for rituals and ceremonial occasions, whereas western clothes are worn to church or government offices. Civil servants working in urban areas are more likely than peasants to make the distinction between western and traditional clothes. Following Indonesia's independence from the Dutch, people increasingly started buying factory made shirts and sarongs. In textile-producing areas the growing of cotton and production of naturally colored thread became obsolete. Traditional motifs on textiles are no longer considered the property of a certain social class or age group. Wives of government officials are promoting the use of traditional textiles in the form of western garments such as skirts, vests and blouses. This trend is also being followed by the general populace, and whoever can afford to hire a tailor is doing so to stitch traditional ikat textiles into western clothes. Thus, traditional textiles are now fashion goods and are no longer confined to the black, white and brown colour palette but come in array of colours. Traditional textiles are also being used in interior decorations and to make handbags, wallets and other accessories, which are considered fashionable by civil servants and their families. There is also a booming tourist trade in the eastern Indonesian city of Kupang where international as well as domestic tourists are eager to purchase traditionally printed western goods.
If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite pasttimes, amongst Netflix bingeing and cake baking, is looking at fashion blogs and borderline-stalking bloggers on their websites and social media accounts for outfit inspo. This is a great and enjoyable hobby to have, but can be disheartening if you’re a college student and can barely afford a Venti Starbucks, much less a Valentino purse. Most fashion blogs seem to be full of designer accessories and expensive jeans. But style is style, regardless of the price tag or brand, and whether you spend $5 or $500 on sunglasses, fashion is for all of us.
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