Youth Embraces Sustainable Fashion: “Wastra Nusantara Virtual Market”

Can you be fashion conscious and eco-friendly at the same time? This August 2021, a group of young artisans from across Indonesia showed how fashion and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand.

To mark International Youth Day 2021, UNESCO—in partnership with Citi Indonesia—invited you to meet young creatives who are striving to preserve ancestral crafts like batik, while incorporating traditional and contemporary practices to preserve the environment. Their work is helping to creating local livelihoods and uplift communities at a time when the pandemic has ravaged many micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

At the Wastra Nusantara Virtual Market on 18 August 2021, audiences learned about batik and traditional textiles including Ulos, Lombok tenun, Endek tenun, and Lurik. They were also able to place orders for the eco-print textiles and other fashion items the young entrepreneurs exhibited live during the creative market.

The global fashion industry is under increasing scrutiny over environmentally unsustainable practices and exploitative labor conditions. Against this backdrop, young entrepreneurs in Indonesia are finding new ways to ensure fashion aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals: uplifting heritage, using natural dyes, and supporting women’s financial inclusion and family income.   

Indonesia is one of the world’s top producers of textiles and the fashion industry employs some 3.7-million Indonesians. “As we strive to recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic, youth-led innovation is vital in to building a more sustainable and inclusive fashion industry,” says UN Resident Coordinator for Indonesia Valerie Julliand.  

The young designers who exhibited their designs on Aug. 18 are part of the UNESCO-Citi Creative Youth at Indonesian Heritage Sites programme, known as Kita Muda Kreatif in Indonesian. The program provides business capacity-building to some 400 young cultural entrepreneurs living around UNESCO designated sites and other popular tourism destinations in the country.