Muhamad Rizqi’s catwalk is a pedestrian crossing, with traffic lights instead of floodlights.
As he steps towards the cameras in stilettos, a figure-hugging polka dot jumpsuit and a trench coat, the applause of Jakarta’s glitterati on the sidewalks is mixed with the sound of honking horns from passing cars.
Citayam Fashion Week – an organic fashion phenomenon centered around a pedestrian crossing near Dukuh Atas station and park area in Central Jakarta – is the latest in Indonesia’s capital, and Muhamad is one of its stars.
“When I first looked on social media, I thought, what kind of place is this? Why do these people go there?” the 21-year-old told the ABC.
“But after I went there, it turned out that even though they had just met, the people were friendly and fun, the interactions went beyond what was seen on social media.”
However, many in conservative Indonesia – including some in government – are not fans of Muhamad’s style.
From hangout for young people to viral fashion trend
Dukuh Atas is a transport hub in Jakarta’s business district where trains from the suburbs such as Citayam, Bogor and Bekasi meet the city’s bus lines and other routes.
The county redeveloped the area in 2019, creating a public park, crossing a road and creating a skate park.
It is one of the few places in greater Jakarta with public open space. About nine percent of central Jakarta is public green, while outlying areas such as Citayam and Bekasi are about 6 to 7 percent.
By comparison, Sydney is 46 percent green open space.
The name Citayam Fashion Week – it’s not a “week” as such – started as an ironic label for the habit of less well-off youth from outside Jakarta areas like Citayam to dress up and go to Dukuh Atas to hang out.
Sometimes they pretended the zebra crossing was a catwalk and posted interviews with each other on TikTok.
It’s not just the young fashionistas who have found a home there.
Citayam teen Muhammad Naifin Ilham – nicknamed Alpin – found a niche by posting Citayam Fashion Week videos on social media.
Alpin said he had no friends until he went there, but now has over 18,000 followers on TikTok.
“I’ve made new friends, a lot of them,” he said.
Oki Rahadianto Sutopo, director of the Youth Studies Center at Gadjah Mada University, said Citayam Fashion Week was a way of expressing oneself.
“These young people are trying to become agents of themselves,” he said.
“Especially those who come from areas that are relatively suburban, which may not look as good as the city center.”
dr. Sutopo said Citayam Fashion Week had given young people from disadvantaged areas access to a more cosmopolitan lifestyle.
“They can buy frugal things that don’t cost much, find their style, and create content on TikTok as if they were participating in the ‘cool’ urban culture,” he said.
He said that Citayam Fashion Week could have some positive side effects.
Its virality and popularity could “emphasize more crucial values such as lack of public spaces, social gaps, environmental issues, pluralism, multiculturalism”.
“But this is going to be a challenge in Indonesia, where things that go viral are often cashed in or used for political gain,” he said.
‘Hara-dukuh’ the new place to be seen
After the teens’ TikTok videos went viral, people from almost all walks of life — from ordinary citizens to state officials and politicians — wanted to join the trend.
Indonesia’s tourism minister, Sandiaga Uno, began calling Dukuh Atas as “Hara-dukuh”, referring to the iconic Harajuku street fashion center in Tokyo.
Last month, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan invited visiting EU Ambassador Vincent Piket and European Investment Bank Vice President Kris Peeters to cross the zebra crossing.
“I had the chance to try the SCBD-esque runway in Dukuh Atas. The bottom line is none of us are as cool as her, we don’t deserve to go on the runway,” Mr Baswedan wrote in an Instagram post. message.
“Next time we will be only spectators and admirers.”
Some Citayam teens have received offers for product recommendations and collaborations with local fashion brands.
Siti Kurma, one of the icons of Citayam Fashion Street, said she was now earning between $200 and $1,000 a day.
“I didn’t expect my child to go viral. Thank God, hopefully it would increase our dignity, we can buy a motorcycle, buy a car,” her mother, Dina, said in an interview with a local television station.
“I was touched to get so much money from my daughter…I bought gold rings and bracelets.”
Copycat events are even starting to pop up outside of Jakarta.
Conservative opposition to ‘LGBT campaign’
Muhamad Rizqi said that participating in the makeshift fashion parades and the community that has formed around them was not only a lot of fun.
He said it had helped him discover a passion for modeling and hoped it could lead to a professional career.
“I feel like this is my place and it’s also an opportunity for me to achieve success,” he said.
However, Citayam Fashion Week has some strong critics who have criticized it for “promoting LGBT”.
“We are obliged to protect children from LGBT campaigns, including during Citayam Fashion Week,” said Jakarta’s Deputy Governor Ahmad Riza Patria.
The head of Central Jakarta’s Social Service, Abdul Salam, told media he would take “action against men who dress as women during Citayam Fashion Week” because they were categorized as people with “social problems”.
Muhamad, whose photos are often used as a reference in the allegations, said he was not campaigning for anything.
“To be honest, I’m really sad…and I’m not trying to promote a group at all,” he said.
“I realize Indonesia may not be ready for the fashion I wear, but I try to be honest with myself, try to love myself… although I already know the consequences, I still want to try,” he said. .