Interview with Friederich Herman

Friederich Herman is one of the leading young emerging designers from Indonesia. select by ROOMOOMO interviewed him to find out more about him and his label.
“ As a child, I have a variety of passions in my life, but they all lead to one main area: the creative one.

…I really liked drawing when I was a kid. I started drawing when I was two years old; my first canvas was my bedroom walls, much to my parents’ dismay. However I never really knew anything about fashion back then; I didn’t look at fashion magazines until few years ago when I started studying fashion, to be honest. When I was younger, clothes were really just about what fit, because I was so tiny but very peculiar in what I wore. So I understood fit before I understood style.”

What inspired you then to get involved in fashion — how did it all actually start?

As a kid I dreamed of being able to draw as a professional, but for a long time I didn’t know what that job could be. I actually wanted to work as an animator, but somehow I ended up studying fashion. During those studies I discovered fashion illustration and it felt like the perfect combination of the two things that, at that time, interested me the most: fashion and art. I like to use fashion as a restrictive element in my illustration, sometimes even as a starting point. I find it interesting to have a real-life element in my illustration, and I really like drawing women and clothes.

I was also interested in thinking about the culture I lived in, the preoccupations of the people I knew and trying to synthesize some of it in a collection of sketches. I’d say that being a fashion illustrator while I was in college was one of the learning processes that I took to achieve my main goal to become a fashion designer. I myself enjoy translating the identity of a fashion designer’s collection into my illustration, and capture every intricate detail that a designer created on an outfit. Taking a closer look on a garment and the details that I’m going to illustrate gives me a better understanding about how a certain fabric drapes, what’s the best sewing and finishing technique to apply on a garment, and what’s the best fabric to use for certain silhouette.

How did your designs and the brand evolve from the early collections to now?

I always believe that if you have a vision and you really have an idea that feels individual and feels like no one else is doing it, then go for it, if that’s really what you want to do. I always thought of creating a brand that’s all about classic silhouette that fits well, feels luxurious, and blends seamlessly into any woman’s wardrobe. I did feel there was a need for luxurious basics at a contemporary price range to wear, without feeling like you’re in this fully branded look, instead you have these luxury timeless pieces that you can break up and mix in to your wardrobe to make it all more personal.

It started with that concept, and just kind of grew from there.

I tried to infuse this spirit of minimalism and anonymity into the clothes I created, combined with good tailoring. The cut is always subtle, exact, formal yet easy, and looks perfect proportionally.

My brand appeals to a clientele that is, well, on the whole, working women who are willing to spend money on quality, but don’t necessarily want to shout about it with loud logos. I don’t think our girls are spending too much time in front of the mirror as well, so I guess her concerns are really not about fashion itself but those little refinements in cuts and how she can wear a piece of clothing, how the fabric moves and reveals. My version of luxury is also a little less stuffy; it’s more casual but I understand the craft and respect the artistry.

It’s about clothes with integrity, I guess.

My typical customer would be refined, pragmatic, and effortless. She appreciates ultra-contemporary style and the idea of classic tailoring. She would rather simplify, so it’s more about the precise cutting and classic silhouettes.

How about your most memorable experience at a fashion show?

My first collection was showcased in 2012 in a humble presentation show. It was mostly black and white, and based on silhouette and form. I think it is memorable because I did it all by myself: the productions, castings, right down to the smallest details. The collection itself was super polished and a lot of people took notice! It was great, but at the same time, there were a lot of other things that came along — it’s not just all fun and fashion. It’s business, it’s creating a business. It’s a lot of work. Even to create the logo was a hard part because my name is like alphabet soup: there are so many letters. Coming up with a font was a mission on its own!

What has been your proudest moment in your career so far?

Straight out of college, I participated and won the Lomba Perancang Mode Femina, Indonesia’s biggest fashion competition. When I entered the competition in 2011, all I really cared for was to win it for the prize. However later on I realized that it was more about the process; meeting with all the seasoned and well known people in Indonesia’s fashion scene and having conversations with them about the business, and listening to what they thought we should do. Having those experiences is just so rare and I felt so privileged. I would hear from previous winners, “Oh the real prize was the mentorship”, and I’d be like “Yeah, right!”… — But it honestly is.

Good mentorship is priceless!

When you compare yourself to the other prominent fashion designers of Indonesia, where do you see yourself? How are you different?

I do respect fashion designers who have a full understanding of context and background and how they fit into it. And every time I see designers who have no idea of this, I think it’s a fluke, which is great, but in the long run, they’re not going to have longevity because they have no idea how they fit into things and why they are important. I see that in our local fashion scene all the time. I believe that as a fashion designer, you really have to have a good understanding about how women live, and how that is reflected in their wardrobe.

My design focuses in innovative concepts and sketches, to proper structure and fit, to a thorough understanding of the construction process, all the way down to the smallest details — which are very important but often compromised or overlooked in the local contemporary market. It may seem simple, but there is a lot of research and running around to find the right pieces without compromising quality.

Lastly, what’s the bigger inspiration for you in a new collection — art and creativity or knowing what the customers will want and wear?

As a young designer, I’d like to think of myself as a contemporary pathfinder.

I have one eye on what’s fashionable now, and the other on what are coming next, and also a strong feeling for basics-like proportion that the customers are familiar with, and therefore are willing to buy. My design is all about a refinement that’s a little bit nonchalant, effortless in attitude, but I want every piece to be strong — it must have a point of view, a reason to be.

People and life are my main inspirations. My friends and family are my muses but in some ways I always think you have to be your own muse. I am constantly inspired by my own self; for me creating a fashion collection is like picking the wardrobe for the story that is constantly being written in my head, if that makes sense? Ha-ha. I also always try not to design something so over-the-top that it’s obsolete a year later, therefore my collection usually tends to be in monochrome. But I do love color though: my wardrobe is a riot filled with color, textures and prints. My mom had a seizure the last time she peeked inside.

THANK YOU.

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Original article first published at select by ROOMOOMO