Indonesian fashion brand Happa is a fun and fabulous brand with an underlying mission to support traditional Indonesia textile workers, the majority of whom are struggling, and to also create a female-positive space for women of all sizes, shapes and ages.
Founded by Mel Ahyar and Andien Aisyah, Happa is part of the slow fashion movement; garments are made-to-order and require about five working days to be handmade in Happa’s ethically run factories.
While there is somewhat of an ethnic vibe, particularly in the brand’s lookbook shoots, the designs are comfortably modern, rendered in vibrant shades with artistic details created by using various traditional handicrafts and techniques.
Part of the brand’s mission, ‘Happa Lyfe’ is both a loyalty programme and a social media hashtag that connects the label’s widespread community both in Indonesia, and overseas.
Modest but definitely not boring
Being based in Indonesia – a majority Muslim country – there is a certain level of modesty about the garments making them appropriate to be worn by hijabi women, while also offering pieces that can be worn in a less modest way. Happa’s inclusive mission fits into the space of creating clothing for all women, which includes prayer appropriate cultural pieces like the ‘mukena’ redone in bright colours and prints.
Overall the cuts are forgiving, but also free flowing in nature. It is the colours, patterns and additional decorative details that not only give the brand its own style, but also creates the signature ‘Happa’ style.
The brand’s latest collection was inspired by the famous novel, Sitti Nurbaya: Kasih Tak Sampai or ‘Sitti Nurbaya: Love Doesn’t Come’ by Marah Rusli. The designers say that the novel “really touched them with the main character’s kindness and love for Samsul Bahri, and his intelligence, strength, and sacrifice.”
Sitti Nurbaya and Samsul Bahri exchange elegant poems while separated, speaking of their love and the beauty of the nature that surrounded them. The romantic couple’s words have been translated into lush fabrics in deep colours mixing plaids – traditionally worn by men – with nature prints which are more often worn by women.
Influenced by the novel’s Sitti Nurbaya’s origin, the designers also looked to the traditional clothing and textile crafts of the Minangkabau, or Minang. Interestingly, the Minangkabau people remain the largest matrilineal society in the world – all property, land and the family name passes from mother to daughter. The men of the family generally manage the religious and political aspects of society, although some women are also involved in these areas.
Minangkabau traditional embroidery motifs have been incorporated into a number of the Sitti Nurbaya collection’s pieces including dresses, tops and trousers, and combined with bright pops of hot pink, strong yellow and red.
“The beautiful and educated Minang girl, Siti Nurbaya. May your heart always be gentle, your steps always firm, and your eyes always sparkle,” say the designers of Happa. “Nurbaya, may your path always be shaded by love and kindness, your steps are strengthened, your shoulders are strengthened.”
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